Airbag / How Am I Driving?

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Airbag/How Am I Driving?
EP by Radiohead
Released 21 April 1998
Recorded 1996–1997
Genre Alternative rock
Length 25:33
Label Capitol 58701
Producer Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Radiohead chronology
No Surprises/Running from Demons
(1997)
Airbag/How Am I Driving?
(1998)
Kid A
(2000)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media 9.2/10[2]

Airbag/How Am I Driving? is the fifth extended play (EP) by English rock group Radiohead, released in April 1998 specifically to the North American market. It includes most of the songs that had been issued as B-sides on Radiohead's CD singles from OK Computer in the previous year.

Background and recording[edit]

The contents of Airbag/How Am I Driving? differ slightly from the EP No Surprises/Running from Demons, released a few months earlier in Japan. The song "Airbag", which opens OK Computer, was never officially released as a single. The version on this EP fades out rather than transitioning to the song "Paranoid Android" as it does on the album.

"Meeting in the Aisle" was Radiohead's first instrumental,[3] featuring programming by Zero 7's Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker.

The sample that opens "A Reminder" is a recording from Prague Metro's automated announcement system: "Finish getting on and getting off; the doors are closing. The next station will be Jiřího z Poděbrad." An early version of "Palo Alto" was entitled "OK Computer."

The EP stylistically bridges the gap between the progressive-alternative OK Computer and Radiohead's experimental future sound, much as the My Iron Lung EP of 1994 had foreshadowed The Bends and OK Computer.

Release and reception[edit]

On the EP cover, the number 1426148550 is given. It was a working UK telephone number, and the voice on the other end, which simply said, "Hello?" was that of Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. Fans could even leave a message, and some of the content was used in later productions.[citation needed] This number has been disconnected for years. Calling it, as of 2009, yields BT's standard "The number you have dialed has not been recognised" message. Yorke, in concerts at the time, joked that it is the number to call to report bad drivers.

Airbag/How Am I Driving? debuted at number 56 on the Billboard 200,[4] selling 20,000 copies in its first week.[5] Although only 25 minutes long, the EP gained the distinction of being nominated for a 1999 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance,[6] up against full-length albums by other artists.[7]

The EP was re-issued in the Netherlands and the UK in early 2007. Before its re-release, the EP had been a highly sought-after item by Radiohead fans outside of North America.[3] In 2009, the album was released by EMI on iTunes.[8]

"Meeting in the Aisle" made its live debut in 2012 on The King of Limbs tour alongside other B sides like "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy" from Radiohead's back catalogue that had not previously been performed in concert.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Radiohead.

  1. "Airbag" – 4:46
  2. "Pearly*" – 3:33
  3. "Meeting in the Aisle" – 3:09
  4. "A Reminder" – 3:51
  5. "Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)" – 4:22
  6. "Melatonin" – 2:09
  7. "Palo Alto" – 3:43

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b Goh, Daryl (19 April 2007), Just like honey, Malaysia Star, retrieved 11 July 2008 
  4. ^ Randall, Mac (2004). Exit Music: The Radiohead Story. Omnibus Press. p. 181. ISBN 1-84449-183-8. 
  5. ^ Basham, David (6 December 2001), Got Charts? Busta's New Beginning; Radiohead Might Have Been Wrong, MTV, retrieved 11 July 2008 
  6. ^ "THE US GONG SHOW". NME. 6 January 1999. Retrieved 8 July 2009. 
  7. ^ Sherman, Heidi (5 January 1999), The Miseducation of the Recording Industry, Rolling Stone, retrieved 11 July 2008 
  8. ^ "Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP added to iTunes". ateaseweb.com. 12 March 2009. Archived from the original on 14 March 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2009.