Sound — 10
The I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings disc was released mostly as a way to let fans who may not be able to see Radiohead perform live hear some variations of songs found on the Kid A and Amnesiac albums. Since many of the songs from these albums were electronic in creation, live versions had to be radically altered in order to make them at all possible to play (aside from just playing back samples from the album). The songs are from different concerts played during the Amnesiac tour that took place in and around the year 2000. The album was released in 2001. Despite this, the album flows well. Overall, the quality of the album is probably the best I've heard on any live album. Radiohead themselves are in truly magnificent form and put to rest any apprehension I had about their live performance. Singer Thom Yorke is energetic and entertaining; you can almost literally hear the fact that he's really enjoying himself up there. Guitarist and backup singer Ed O'Brien is spot on and surprisingly on when it comes to singing. I was amazed at how much he sounded like Yorke. And Jonny Greenwood's jumping from instrument to instrument is really cool. He's generally thought of as the lead guitarist for Radiohead, but he only really plays guitar in "I Might Be Wrong" and "Morning Bell". Otherwise, he's hunched over a keyboard, playing the string section of most songs or playing the Ondes Martenot, an early electric instrument which includes a keyboard and a slide. This can be most predominantly heard in "the National Anthem", the disc's opening track. Alright, let's get down to brass tacks, gentlemen.
Lyrics — 9
The first track on the album, "the National Anthem" starts with the tuning of a radio. A familiar bass line kicks in, courtesy of Colin Greenwood, and it begins. This version of "the National Anthem" is unique in that it has a certain energy that even the album version could not capture. Thom Yorke does a sort of scat singing in the beginning before singing the first line. Another interesting difference in this version is that Jonny Greenwood's Ondes Martenot is much easier to hear and it really adds to the energy present. Finally, a full brass band is present just as in the album version which is really a pleasant surprise. A fine opening track. Second, the album's title track, "I Might Be Wrong." This differs from the album version in that it's sped up a bit due to the fact that the electronic hums present in the album version that add a sort of loud/quiet/loud dynamic are not present. However, the added speed and a spot on performance by the band make this an interesting performance. I find it strange that this should be the title track, however, as I find this track to be the least interesting one on the entire album. Next up is "Morning Bell." Very similar to the album version (the Kid A one, as it seems Radiohead have never played the Amnesiac version live, though I might be wrong. Har! ): Rhodes piano, terse, unrelenting drum beat, melodic bass line, it's all there. But what really makes this performance special is the burst of guitar noise during the build up and Thom's paranoid, unintelligible muttering as it all wind's down. These things are present during the album version, but this just works in a live setting so well. "Like Spinning Plates" is the fourth track. This is a radically different song from the album version. The vocal melody stays identical and the lyrics unchanged. However, the rhythm track for "Like Spinning Plates" was constructed from reversing the guitar bit from another Radiohead song, "I Will", which later appeared on "Hail to the Thief." In the live version, a dreamy acoustic grand piano constructs the rhythm. In my opinion, this is a much better version than the album one. It might be just because I have a certain affinity for the acoustic grand, however. In any case, I have to say this is one of the higher points of the album. "Idioteque" comes next. This differs only slightly from the album version; the drum beat sounds... almost flat and the sampled four chords present throughout most of the song remain. This had the potential to be a poor live song, but one Mr. Thom Yorke manages to turn it around. At first, I have to say, the percussion was distracting. But once it gets to the point where Thom Yorke is screaming his head off, snarling out every lyric with every member of the audience singing along, any negatives just don't matter. Good save, Mr. Yorke, good save. Now comes another major highlight of the album; "Everything in it's Right Place." A fan favourite, this song had much to live up to; the album version is one of my favourite songs ever. But this live version just does everything properly. It starts out pretty much as the album version but by the end, Thom's voice is getting looped and manipulated and spun all around and there's this building sort of pressure like steam creating this frenzied wall of sound, it's hard to describe. But my lord, it's great. Another favourite of mine follows, the song "Dollars and Cents." This one differs only slightly from the album version but once again benefits from the live energy created. Thom Yorke's vocal performance again is the stand out element as he growls out the last few lyrics of the song "We are the Dollars and Cents, Pounds and Pence." And the whole song collapses into Ed O'Brien's guitar bit, which is made up almost entirely of a B major/B minor chord progression, which he then stops abruptly with a crackle and a slam. The bewildered audience, silent until now, suddenly bursts into cheers. The last song is the previously unreleased, yet fan favourite song, "True Love Waits." A melancholy acoustic ballad, TLW consists of only Thom Yorke and his acoustic guitar. It's a fairly simple but enchanting song that really benefits from Thom's weary, almost hesitant voice. Lyrically, it's a typical love song with the odd Radiohead twist. From "I'm not living/ I'm just killing time" to "and True Love lives/ on lollipops and crisps" the song is haunting and beautiful. After the last chord sounds out over the audience, Thom gives a quick "thanks" and the album ends.
Overall Impression — 9
Although many live albums are pretty unnecessary, I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings is well worth any fans purchase (or at least, discreet download) for the unique renderings of "Like Spinning Plates", "Everything in it's Right Place" and "The National Anthem" and the "new" song "True Love Waits." Besides that, it just gives fans a feel of Radiohead's passion for music as it really comes through as they play. I only rate this album a 9 due to the lack of cohesiveness evident (or, rather, not evident) through the album as a whole as displayed in "Kid A" or "OK Computer". However, I guess that's kind of hard to do with a live album. Besides that, there's the odd rough bit such as parts of "Idioteque." So seek out this gem and never let it go! I let someone borrow it once and never saw it again so I had to shell out another $14 for it.