Radiohead must drive music executives bonkers. Their last album, “In Rainbows” was downloadable on the web for whatever the buyer wanted to pay. For their follow up, “The King of Limbs”, they have created a very limited printed newspaper that will be given away to customers purchasing the CD and vinyl versions. Called The Universal Sigh, the paper (a poetic homage to trees and the environment) features 12 pages of short stories, lyrics, and artwork from the likes of Robert McFarlane, Jay Griffiths, and longtime collaborator Stanley Donwood. (The website Rip It Up has posted a pdf version online).
The release of the newspaper is the latest in a series of zingers from perhaps the world’s most iconoclastic mega band. After ditching their record company, EMI in 2007 because the company didn’t want to give “In Rainbows” away for free, Radiohead is back turning the music industry furniture upside down. And to add to the spectacle, Donwood and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke personally handed out copies of the publication Monday morning outside London’s Rough Trade East record store.
In late April, the band will further exasperate the music suits by releasing a “newspaper album” version of “The King of Limbs” which will feature a different paper than The Universal Sigh, as well as a CD, two vinyl records, and a number of pieces of art.