This week, Radiohead opened their very own ‘Public Library’, a new online platform that curates and collates archival, decades-spanning material from the band in one site.
Densely packed and organised by album, the Radiohead Public Library contains everything from previously unreleased live footage to HD versions of all the band’s music videos. There are also opportunities for fans to buy previously out of print merchandise and to explore the plethora of online artefacts that Thom Yorke and co have created over the years.
We’ve already spent far too much of our time digging through the band’s impressive history. Here’s the best of what we found.
Live at Pinkpop 1996
New recordings of the band’s live performances are the real core of the Radiohead Public Library, with highly sought-after sets from various festivals and TV appearances archived in much higher quality than previously available. The group’s 1996 performance at Pinkpop in the Netherlands has been hailed as one of their best by fans and was one of the key performances on Colin Greenwood’s personal picks from the archive. Watch it here.
The Drill EP
To mark the library’s opening, Radiohead have uploaded their 1992 debut EP, Drill, to streaming services for the first time. The tracks on this EP were recorded as demos back when the band went by On a Friday and the original run was limited to just 3,000 CDs. True [radio]heads (sorry) will already be familiar but the fact younger, more-online fans will be able to stream (almost) the band’s entire catalogue is news to be celebrated.
The TKOL RMX 8 EP
Another rarity that’s found its way onto streaming services alongside the launch of the library is the TKOL RMX 8 EP. Consisting of three remixes of tracks from the group’s eighth album, the EP was originally released as a follow-up to the TKOL RMX 1234567 album. Great news for everyone who’s been wishing they could stream Nathan Fake’s extended Harshdub remix of Morning Mr Magpie on repeat.
The Polyfauna app
Extra remixes aren’t the only bit of TKOL bonus content to re-emerge as part of the library’s grand opening. Radiohead have also made their audiovisual app Polyfauna available to download once again. The app allows users to create their own worlds based on art and recordings created by the band and changes with the lunar calendar. Thom Yorke also used the second version of Polyfauna to debut music from Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes.
The Diet of Worms scrapbook
Die-hard Radiohead fans will already be familiar with some of the band’s notebooks, such as the one that came as part of their OK Computer reissue in 2017. Yorke’s scrawls from that era were printed in its pages, and the deluxe edition came packaged with a sketchbook of illustrations by Stanley Donwood. In the past, there also existed a scrapbook section on the band’s site, which Yorke would use to dump unused lyrics, and later return to during spells of writer’s block. Now, the band’s 2004 edition of the online scrapbook – named Diet of Worms at the time – has been resurrected for the library. Click through the wormhole for lyrics (specifically, Burn the Witch), doodles and old photos.
Alongside their live and TV performances, the Radiohead Public Library also contains an archive of Radiohead’s various webcast performances, many of which feature alternate versions of tracks alongside interludes of the band’s members DJing and messing around with friends like Adam Buxton. While snippets of these performances have been uploaded to YouTube and other sites over the years, this is the first chance fans have had to watch them all in full since their broadcast.
Past merch collections are now being reprinted on-demand with items such as the classic Rainbow Cut Out t-shirt available again. Expect to see plenty of these in various fields come festival season.
The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time
Radiohead once produced 24 short films and divided them into four collections named The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time. Originally aired via Radiohead Television, they were later released on DVD in 2004. Now, all four episodes can be watched via the library. Lock in for 110 minutes of animations, webcast footage from live shows, promotional material and more.
One of the oddest aspects of the Radiohead Public Library is the archive of half-broken old Radiohead websites within it. These run the gamut from early Netscape-centric web pages to slightly less archaic sites as the band’s career progresses. There’s not much to actually do on these sites but click around and enjoy the nostalgia-inducing graphics, but they serve as a solid reminder of Radiohead’s continued embrace of technology.
Read our 2019 cover story with Thom Yorke.