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20 Insanely Great Radiohead Songs Only Hardcore Fans Know

Revisit key deep cuts, B-sides and live-only gems that could end up on group’s ninth LP

Radiohead; 20; Insanely Great; Songs; Hardcore Fans

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Radiohead are up to something. It's been five years since the band released The King of Limbs, but with the arrival of headlining dates at summer festivals abroad such as Primavera and Lollapalooza Berlin, the unused Bond theme "Spectre" and reports that Radiohead established a new LLC — a likely precursor to a new LP — it's clear that Thom Yorke and company could drop their much anticipated ninth album at any moment.

Before it arrives, however, Rolling Stone dove into the lesser-explored crevices of the band's discography — deep album tracks, B-sides, compilation and soundtrack songs, and fan-favorite live cuts that have never seen official release — to compile a list of key obscurities. From "Follow Me Around" and "Fog" to "Worrywort" and "Lift," here are 20 great Radiohead songs only hardcore fans know.

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“Fog” (2001)

It may not share the vaunted reputation of "True Love Waits" or "Talk Show Host," but this fuzzy, slow-building Amnesiac castoff is one of Radiohead's greatest B-sides. It begins with some heavily garbled synth notes that rumble like the sound waves of an old radio transmission returning to Earth. When Yorke's voice eventually pierces through, it arrives with such a sudden clarify and closeness that it feels like he's singing directly into your ear. It's pretty much one big crescendo from there: The drums start to chug, Colin Greenwood begins mashing a tambourine, and a full-blown jam blooms around the fittingly opaque lyrics about NYC folklore and an unspecified child going bad. Rolled out in concerts on the rare occasions when the mood strikes, "Fog" is an emotionally unresolved crash course in what this band does best. D.E.

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“Worrywort” (2001)

Accented with lyrics that sound like the transcript from one of Thom Yorke's therapy sessions ("Don't find yourself in doldrums/Go and get some rest/It's such a beautiful day"), this synth-heavy Amnesiac-era B-side feels like a shot of novocaine right between your ears. Fueled by a serene digital melody that eventually ramps up in complexity in classic Radiohead fashion, "Worrywort" almost allows itself to become the band's first unrepentant feel-good track — speed it up and it's practically the stuff of a Passion Pit single. But this is Radiohead we're talking about, and so, even at its most soothing, this mantra of personal affirmation never loses touch with the pain that it's ostensibly trying to numb. D.E.

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“I Froze Up” (2002)

The sparse, haunting "I Froze Up" originally premiered during one of Radiohead's off-kilter webcasts in 2002, where Thom Yorke performed the song solo on a Fender Rhodes piano. This heavily bootlegged, low-bitrated version of "I Froze Up" was the only evidence the song ever existed … until 2010, when Yorke revived the track at a February solo concert in Cambridge, England. Two months later, "I Froze Up" popped up again, this time at an Atoms for Peace concert in Chicago, but that would be the last time Yorke revisited the somber cut. 

"Morning Mr. Magpie," another track that Yorke debuted during that December 2002 webcast, was also all but forgotten before its inclusion on Radiohead's The King of Limbs, which gives fans hope that "I Froze Up" could also one day be released from the vaults. D.K.

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“A Punchup at a Wedding (No no no no no no no no)” (2003)

Tucked away on the back side of Radiohead's longest album, this slinky midtempo deep cut is the closest thing to a diss track that Yorke has ever recorded. Written in response to a nasty review of a hometown gig the band played in July 2001 (one of Yorke's favorite performances), "A Punchup at a Wedding" helps Hail to the Thief bridge the gap from the simmering frustration of its first half to the sneering rage of its second one. "You've come here just to start a fight/You had to piss on our parade," Yorke foams, the taunting piano transforming the song into the badass older brother that "Karma Police" always wanted. D.E.

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“Gagging Order” (2003)

A lot of Radiohead songs start out as Thom Yorke flicking away at his acoustic guitar, but the gorgeous "Gagging Order" is one of the few that was actually recorded that way. Graced with some of the band's most haunting imagery ("Move along, there's nothing left to see/Just a body, pouring down the street"), this autumnal B-side proves that Radiohead is often at their best when mining veiled political statements for their haunting emotional undercurrents. Marrying a threatening title to a melody that sounds like it could soundtrack a wistful montage in Almost Famous, the track fleshes out the abstract Orwellian fears of Hail to the Thief by imbuing them with an unnervingly physical dimension. D.E.

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“Scatterbrain” (2003)

The penultimate track on Radiohead's bloated, schizophrenically sequenced Hail to the Thief, the fragile "Scatterbrain" appears like a tranquil oasis between the manic "Myxomatosis" and the 2003 LP's sinister closer, "A Wolf at the Door."

As Yorke explained in a 2008 interview with The Quietus, "Scatterbrain" stemmed from the singer's frustration following his involvement in the Jubilee 2000, which radically changed his worldview as well as hammered home many of Hail to the Thief's Nineteen Eighty-Four undertones.

"I realized how out of control the disintegration was," he said. "When I started with Jubilee 2000, I thought it was the most exciting thing I'd ever got involved with. Potentially, we could show what's been going on for what it is. But it never happened, because the G8 were very smart, and they and the IMF and the World Bank kept passing it to each other, and eventually I found myself thinking, 'Now I get it. It's never going to happen.'"

"Yesterday's headlines blown by the wind/Yesterday's people end up scatterbrain," Yorke wearily sings. "Any fool can easy pick a hole (I only wish I could fall in)/A moving target in a firing range." D.K.

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“Go Slowly” (2007)

For any other band, this would be one of their crowning achievements. For Radiohead, it's basically a sketch that accidentally struck gold. Too half-formed to earn a place on LP, but too haunting to be left on the cutting room floor forever, this spare stunner from the In Rainbows sessions unfolds like a distant cousin of "Exit Music (for a Film)." "Go Slowly" is rooted in a profound despair of some kind, and its only escape is to dig further down. "I didn't care/But now I can see that there's a way out …," Yorke croons, like he's calling to death itself as his voice sinks beneath a quicksand of feedback to end one of the most beautifully disconcerting songs that the band has ever recorded. D.E.

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“Down Is the New Up” (2007)

At first blush, it's pretty bizarre — albeit fitting, given the song's commitment to confusion — that this immense B-side didn't find a home on In Rainbows (it wound up on the disc of bonus tracks that was released alongside the album's CD release). On the other hand, this sniveling, carnivalesque piano jam is so discombobulating that it feels like the perfect complement to the album that flipped the music industry on its head. Kicking off with some of Radiohead's characteristically ominous instructions ("Pour yourself a hot bath, pour yourself a drink/Nothing's gonna happen without a warning …"), this unusually rich deep cut soon bubbles into a full-blown falsetto nightmare that would be even scarier if it weren't so damn enjoyable. D.E.

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“Faust Arp” (2007)

A 130-second song that's often dismissed as the interstitial ditty sandwiched between In Rainbows favorites "All I Need" and "Reckoner," this dense and richly orchestrated track is a far more crucial cut than its brevity might suggest. Balancing the intimacy of a lullaby with the passive-aggressiveness of a lovers' spat, "Faust Arp" finds Yorke cooing tightly coiled verses about taxidermy and resentment over a gentle tide of strings that make the whole song sound as though it's inexorably flowing downstream. But Jonny Greenwood is the secret ingredient here, his nimble acoustic guitar lending Yorke's vocals the support they need to get away with lines like "You've got a head full of feathers/You're gonna melt into butter." D.E.

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“These Are My Twisted Words” (2009)

For a band that is constantly innovating how they deliver their music — In Rainbows' surprise pay-what-you-want release, the BitTorrent distribution of Thom Yorke's Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, the SoundCloud drop of "Spectre" — the arrival of "These Are My Twisted Words" is still the most curious in Radiohead's discography.

Coming 22 months after In Rainbows, "These Are My Twisted Words" first appeared on August 12th, 2009, without explanation on file-sharing site What.cd, with the MP3 accompanied by an info file boasting an ASCII picture warning of a "Wall of Ice" arriving August 17th.

Five days later, the winding, krautrock-inspired track was formally released as a free download through the band's official website. The track never received a physical release — although Stanley Donwood–created artwork was included in the file for fans to print out — but "These Are My Twisted Words" continues to have a live presence, popping up frequently during the band's The King of Limbs tour. D.K.

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“Identikit” (2012)

"Identikit" was one of three still-unreleased songs — along with "Cut a Hole" and "Ful Stop" — that Radiohead debuted during their tour in support of The King of Limbs, with the band performing the track nearly three dozen times over the course of their trek.

The twisty, hypnotic cut, one of the funkiest tracks in the band's catalog, boasts guitarist Ed O'Brien's most prominent vocal work, which stays in perfect sync with Yorke throughout the knotty verses that lead into the chaotic chorus.

"Identikit" was also one of the two tracks that Radiohead laid down at Jack White's Third Man Records prior to their 2012 headlining performance at Bonnaroo. However, the band was reportedly unhappy with the finished product, and "Identikit" remains a TKOL tour relic barring inclusion on the upcoming Radiohead LP. D.K.

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