In the past year or so, I’ve become somewhat of a Radiohead fanatic. I blame it all on the band’s latest effort, In Rainbows, but I digress. Anyway, I’ve become one of those people who will argue that Radiohead is indeed the best band ever (though, I’m still not quite one of those people who truly believe it), and I own every one of their discs, some unreleased songs, Thom Yorke’s solo disc, etcetera etcetera.
When I first saw the amazon.com page for Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Radiohead I was a little perplexed. A look at the description told me that the disc was a collection of Radiohead songs rerecorded in baby-friendly format. Meaning, less electric guitar and loud pianos, and more soothing instruments like harps, bells, and the glockenspiel. I knew I had to get my greedy little, Radiohead-obsessed hands on the album immediately.
The Rockabye Baby! people don’t just stop at Radiohead, however. They have released over 25 CDs of lullabies, including covers of Beatles songs, Coldplay, Nirvana, Metallica, Queen, the Pixies, and the Rolling Stones. At this moment in time, I have acquired five other Rockabye Baby! CDs.
I definitely don’t have any children. I don’t even want any in the near future. But after my first listen of the album, I almost wanted to have a bunch of little ones, just so I can brainwash them- I mean, introduce them- to Radiohead at an early age with this CD full of rock lullabies. The title of this review was what I wrote on my Twitter account after first listening to the album, and that pretty much sums up how I feel overall.
And anyway, don’t let not having children stop you from buying this disc. It’s almost incredible to hear the soft renditions of your favorite Radiohead songs on the album, and I’ll say from personal experience that these lullabies work well on adult ears too; pop this CD in before bed, and you’ll be dozing off quickly with visions of the Radiohead bear mascot floating in your head.
The entire album is exquisite, but there are definitely some highlights. The first time I listened to Subterranean Homesick Alien I felt my heart just leap with joy- hearing those all too familiar opening chords be reproduced by a tinkly little piano was adorable. Instead of the orchestration and sound getting louder as it does in the original (found on Radiohead’s third studio album, Ok Computer), the music becomes softer and gentler, with the sweet sounds of the glockenspiel in the background and more subdued piano playing throughout the verses where Thom Yorke’s vocals would be.
Paranoid Android (also from Ok Computer) is one of my favorite Radiohead songs, period, and the treatment here is lovely. The song sounds almost identical to its original counterpart, but again, the music is hushed and sweet- a xylophone takes up Yorke’s vocals, and a harp is heard throughout the choruses. So sweet.
Any Radiohead fan knows that There There. (The Boney King of Nowhere). (from their sixth studio album, Hail To The Theif) is a heavier song, but again, the Rockabye Baby! musicians tone it down and create the perfect lullaby. The mellotron steals the show throughout the song which again sounds similar to the original but, you know- baby friendly. This is another of my favorite Radiohead songs, and I love this version.
The album closes with another song from Hail, Sail To The Moon. (Brush The Cobwebs Out Of The Sky). The song has always been a favorite of mine for its beautiful melody, and the Rockabye Baby! version takes all of the lovely orchestration that plays along the background of the original and brings it the forefront. More xylophone, harps, and even a soothing maraca are added in to create a lush melody that makes for a stunning end to the disc.
Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions for Radiohead is a wonderful idea and perfectly executed album. If you’ve ever dreamed of raising your little rockers to listen to your favorite kind of music, this CD is definitely a start. And even if you don’t have children, this disc is worth buying. Sure, you may feel a little strange listening to an album full of lullabies at first, but the renditions are all fantastic and Radiohead fans (or even newcomers) will appreciate the creativity used to create new versions of these classic Radiohead songs. Besides, even adults need lullabies sometimes, and what better way to fall asleep than listening to No Surprises before bed?
1. No Surprises
2. Let Down
3. Subterranean Homesick Alien
5. Paranoid Android
6. Knives Out
7. Karma Police
8. There There
9. Everything in Its Right Place
11. Sail to the Moon