What Went Right With I Might Be Wrong?

by Jonathan on December 7, 2001

The following article is from MTV.com:

What Went Right With I Might Be Wrong?
Before I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings slinks off the Billboard 200 charts entirely (it slides to #166 next week), we’d like to take a moment and ponder what could have been (and maybe should have been) for Radiohead’s much-ballyhooed concert record.

Coming on the heels of the band’s potent 1-2 combination punch of Kid A and Amnesiac, as well as Radiohead’s acclaimed tours of Europe, North America and Japan this summer, I Might Be Wrong was obviously meant as a way to tide fans over until Thom Yorke and company’s next proper release. Nothing new there, as Radiohead had previously done something similar by issuing its Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP in spring 1998, almost nine months after releasing OK Computer and featuring several B-sides and unreleased tracks from the OK sessions.


As with I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, the Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP earned enough sales to debut in the upper half of the Billboard 200 albums chart. The seven-track Airbag EP sold 20,000 copies to skid into the charts at #56 during its first week in April 1998, and has since gone on to sell more than 157,000 copies to date, none to shabby given that Airbag is no longer in print in America.
In just three weeks, I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings has already sold over half that number, notching some 83,000 copies in sales, including an impressive first week where over 48,000 copies were sold, propelling the album to a #44 debut on the Billboard 200.
But considering how well Kid A (928,000 copies sold to date) and Amnesiac (628,000) have fared, we’re wondering if Radiohead might have missed a golden opportunity to serve up a true, full-length concert record instead. Based upon the early returns for I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, we think they have.
While we do appreciate the lovely unreleased track, “True Love Waits,” that Radiohead chose to include on Live Recordings, we’re convinced that the album’s relative brevity (eight songs that clock in at just over 40 minutes), when matched with its full-length price, undoubtedly turned some fans right from Wrong.
For a group whose anti-corporate stance is well-documented and who once considered using No Logo as the title for Kid A, it seems that Radiohead would be the kind of act that would want to give fans more product for less money. Instead, I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings is carrying the same, if not higher, sticker price than the band’s full-length studio releases ? and that’s not a-ok for the kids, computer.
Considering how well received Radiohead’s summer gigs went, a more typical ? and characteristically fan-friendly ? move from the band might have been to issue a 70+ minute live album on a single, regularly-priced disc, or even a complete concert across two discs at a discounted price.
When it comes to doling out live material, Radiohead is certainly no Dave Matthews Band, who have several platinum concert albums to their credit, including the 1.36 million-seller Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95, as well as Matthews’ 1.72 million-seller with guitarist Tim Reynolds, Live at Luther College.
However, based on Radiohead’s current following, we’re confident that if the Oxford band had issued a more comprehensive version of I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings just in time for Christmas, it would have at least surpassed the sales levels of such recent, moderately successful concert albums as Ozzfest 2001: The Second Millennium (166,000 copies sold), Ben Harper’s Live From Mars (185,000 copies sold), The Roots Come Alive (187,000 copies sold), or Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes’ Live at the Greek (199,000 copies sold), numbers that I Might Be Wrong will be lucky to near in its current configuration. Oh, well. Maybe next Christmas … or Bastille Day.
{thanks to David}



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