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Radiohead had been around for more than a decade before releasing their first major UK chart topping album on the 16th of June 1997. Before the production of the album, it could be argued that the guys hadn't really stunned the UK's main media base with jaw descending classic British sound! After their 1992 release of 'Creep', leading rock/indie magasine, NME described the group as "a lily-livered excuse for a rock band", and BBC Radio 1 blacklisted the central track for the simple reason that it was "too depressing" to be played.
Sure enough though, the group did recover from those tricky early days, and the depressing feel lowered to a suttle notion as to attract a wider audience and fan base.
2. Paranoid Android
3. Subterranian Homesick Alien
4. Exit Music
5. Let Down
6. Karma Police
7. Fitter Happier
9. Climbing up the Walls
10. No surprises
12. The Tourist
The album opens with such enthusiasm and uplift that you can almost feel the regret on the faces of those NME writers who down trood theis bands style. In no way is this collection of instrument and voice a depressing sensation to the ears, 'Airbag' is as well-written and well-balance an opening track as you will find on any album of recent times.
'Paranoid Android', perhaps one of the better known tracks from the band enters into the album with acoustic guitar strums and light drumming. It builds patently into a reverb filled rock riff based power house, designed to get you singing along and really into the album as a whole. But what I love most about this song is the central chorus/verse/bit, "Rain down, rain down, come on rain down, ohh rain, from a great height, from a great height" is sensationally well sung - all the emotion you could possibly need.
'Subterranian Homesick Alien' is first off, bizzarly titled, but yet again an extremely well balance acoustic song. The melodies of voice and instrument criss-cross brilliantly in a way only a genius could choreograph. The piano/keyboard sound is particularly inspiring. "I'll show you the stars and the meaning of life"...
'Exit music' is what you would call depressing. Its drowny, simple, but effective. It reminds me a lot of 'creep' actually, and perhaps this song was a way of Radiohead 'creeping' back in some of that previous (media hated) stuff they clearly enjoyed producing themselves.
The bass guitar in 'let down' makes this track an instant hit. a rolling, deep sound which continues throughout and really gives the whole song an uplifting, positive feel. You do feel that the lead vocals relaxed approach doesn't work as well here as in other songs from the album.
'Karma Police' is I believe the most well-known track from the album, repeated so many times on radio and Tv, but that doesn't make it a poppy, every-day tune. It's a really innovative song which brings in some interesting chord changes and vocals only Radiohead would attempt to get away with. "That's what you get when you mess with us"...
'Fitter Happier' is a really truely bizzare little clippet of ranting from 'Microsoft Sam' or an equivelent electronic voice going on about human happenings and daily things we all do or should do. Now this is depressing... but does it bring up real issues? maybe.
Back to rock and roll with 'Electioneering' and some beefy guitar riffs with heavy drums and less lazy singing (not that the lazy style is anything but brilliant). The song is well lirically written, definetly one for turning right up!
'Climbing up the walls' takes the album back down a notch with some interesting sound samples, and a rolling lazy drum beat throughout. The vocals have adopted a kind of muffled effect for the song too which works incredibly well. The chorus is partically good with the introduction of some threat descending echoey electric guitar to join the various stages of the track.
'No surprises' is my personal favourite song of the album because it's just so catchy!
'Lucky' is a slow, droaning song with a similar echoey drawn out electric guitar sound used in Climbing up the walls. Its a very well balanced track once again, and the outro is particularly well put together.
'The Tourist' wraps up the album beautifully with yet another slow, semi-depressing sound from those rolling drums, reverbed guitar and muffled, droaning voice. I love how the sounds of this track blend - its almost too difficult to tell the instruments, voice and electronic samples/sounds apart, they're so well integrated.
The electric guitar breaks out into a muffled solo which also works really well with the track.
Overall It's difficult to believe that this is the same band that was slattered so badly by the UK press back in the early 1990s. Radiohead have gone from being a failed 'depressing' pop/rock band to a massively talented group of British legends; a group of inspirational musicians and writers capable of producing some excellent recorded and live sound!
Well radio head have been sucessfull sice their early hit creep. The cheeriest song in the album is airbag it is about a positive emotion you feel when you have just failed to have an accident. He also has plenty of rage against business. Also in let down is all about being trapped very well put together and full of emotions rage and experience.
My favorite song is paranoid android which is inspired by coke crazed socialities this is all very spacy and the album is like syntesizing the smiths with queen sounds. Radiohead influences were matched by there talent. They seem to have been coming on leaps and bounds but this album was chaos and was the peak of their talent releasing this album wacky and well constructed the label was parlophone also radioheads producer was nigel godrich. The running time for this album is 53 minutes twenty one seconds a good album back in the day still listen to the album from time to time. This was released in the ninties when music was just class and this was a touch of class and always will be the alternative rock band will be legendary forever. The album has now became triple platinum.
This, Radioheads third album was released in 1997, and stands as one of their finest albums to date. This is often hailed as being one of the greatest albums of the 1990s and whilst I am not 100% sure I agree with that, it certainly has some very fine songs on it.
It begins with Airbag, concerning survival and a fear of driving. It starts with a great guitar riff, and whilst it is a rather droney song, it is catchy and has some great drumming, a good solid start to the album.
The next track paranoid android is one of my favourite songs on the album, the song has a great tempo, energy and so many different parts. It is musically very complex, and produced brilliantly and has contrasts of soft and quiet and passionate, one of Radioheads greatest songs, a classic.
Another song to watch for on the album is the beautiful Karma Police. The piano and guitars are beautiful throughout, Thom York sings it beautifully, this is radiohead at their brilliant innovative best.
The last song that I particularly like on the album is Lucky, it is very simple by Radiohead standards, but is beautiful and very expressive both vocally and in the guitars.
This is a diverse album, probably one of radioheads more accessible albums, it provides some lovely melodic songs, that are musically complex as well as some of the more self-indulgent ones. Definitely worth listening to.
After the success of Radiohead's 2nd album, "The Bends", an album many critics to this day would have in their top ten of all time, the world waited expectantly for it's much-heralded follow-up "OK Computer." We were not to be disappointed. One of the masterpieces of the 1990s, it now sits firmly at the very top of many critics' lists.
In many ways OK Computer was an album of transition for the Oxford band. Moving away from their pure indie-rock beginnings, it marked the beginning of the new experimental and more electronic direction Radiohead were to take. Although generally guitar based, the album also included to various degrees the mellotron, glockenspiel, cello and electric piano amongst others.
Released on 16th June 1997, "OK Computer" was thought by many to be a concept album, although the band have refuted this. There are certainly many themes running throughout the album - consumerism, science-fiction and paranoia being three of the more obvious. It is a disturbing commentary on modern life
There is no doubting the genius that runs through it. Recorded partly in an historic mansion owned by Jane Seymour, the album is eerie, atmospheric and sometimes genuinely creepy and sinister particularly on "Climbing Up The Walls" where Thom whispers "I am the key to the lock in your door that keeps your toys in the basement" to disturbing effect against the background of minimalist ambient noises.
Thom Yorke's unique voice is probably the biggest strength of the album, somehow drawing the listener in whilst still sounding remote and detached. Most of the vocals were actually first take recordings, and sound all the better for being slightly imperfect.
For me, the highlight of the album, and the song that really absorbed me into the world of Radiohead, is "Paranoid Android". Similar to Bohemian Rhapsody, it sounds like several different songs rolled into one. Awe-inspiring though it is on the album, it sounds even better live where the complex sounds seem to take on a life of their own and fill the venue. It is anthemic in places, and builds to an unforgettable crescendo.
Another of my favourite tracks "Subterranean Homesick Alien" follows another familiar Radiohead theme - Science Fiction. It is also a commentary on alienation - The narrator is living in a town devoid of any inspiration "I live in a town where you can't smell a thing" and he feels alienated from the other inhabitants "all these weird creatures who lock up their spirits" and wants to get away "I wish that they'd swoop down in the country lane late at night when I'm driving, take me on board their beautiful ship..." For a band who've turned heartbreaking lyrics into an art form, they outdo themselves at the climax of the song "I'd show them the stars and the meaning of life they'd shut me away but I'd be alright". Although not one of my favourite Radiohead songs, this really symbolises the band for me with the beautiful haunting lyrics and sounds - at the same time it's the most uplifting and depressing thing you'll ever hear.
Other highlights include the relatively conventional "Karma Police" and "Electioneering" which are like a breath of fresh air in the stuffy, claustrophobic context of the album and are probably the only songs that could have made it onto their previous albums.
"No Surprises" is also a gorgeous song. It's beautiful pop-melody and tinkling xylophone rather hiding the dark subject matter of the song "I'll take a quiet life, a handshake, some carbon monoxide...". It is typical Radiohead.
Probably the most unpopular "song" on the album is "Fitter Happier" which is basically a robotic voice describing in monotone how he has conformed to so many stereotypes he has become devoid of personality, "a pig in a cage on antibiotics". Thom describes it as "the most upsetting thing I've ever written". It's probably a bit self-indulgent and pretentious for some, but I actually think it's quite a clever idea and doesn't sound out of place in this stark, bleak album at all.
There are certainly some songs that aren't quite as strong - "Let Down" and "The Tourist" spring to mind, but this really is an album where the sum is greater than the parts. Although it may not be a concept album, it does flow like one and each song needs to be heard in context.
Radiohead are criticised for being depressing, and it is at times gloomy and bleak. But it's also music at it's very best - five incredible musicians, Thom's beautiful voice portraying the full range of human emotion and the thoughtful and at times obscure lyrics
This really was the album that set them apart from their brit-pop peers and put them in a new league. It's never going to an album to put on at a party, but then that was never the point. Radiohead are who they are and the album is what it is - one of the masterpieces of 20th century music.
Radiohead's OK Computer really does fascinate me - it's hailed frequently as one of the greatest albums of all time, but I just don't see it. Sure, it's well composed and harmonious, but it's also beyond depressing and plodding. It also features the waste of space of a track that is Fitter Happier, where Steven Hawking seemingly makes a guest appearance. I was always a bigger fan of their superb album Pablo Honey, which featured the likes of Creep and Anyone Can Play Guitar. It's not that I don't like this album - I do, but I find it incredibly overrated.
I listened to it once and wasn't very impressed, so I kept listening to it and it did admittedly catch on. It's quite different to their previous efforts - it's a lot more refined from a production perspective and nowhere near as raw or gritty. Although it means the grungey and raw elements of their previous album are mostly gone, it does mean that we get some really robustly produced songs - Paranoid Android is engineered with a very crisp and robotic sound that does fit the tone of the song itself obviously. The unqualified triumph of the album is Thom Yorke, whose vocals are again very good. Particularly in the song Exit Music, he makes it both emotionally resonant and very intense - you can tell that he's poured his entire heart and soul into it.
Karma Police is probably my favourite song on the album - it was a hit single and features some funny lyrics (such as "her Hitler hairdo is making me feel ill"). It's a very clever song with an interesting concept.
Electioneering is also a great tune - it's a lot heavier and more raw than most of the stuff on this album, and feels as though maybe it was written in the production cycle for Pablo Honey rather than this.
I still don't see what the fuss is about after all of this time - I think it's a good album, but I fail to see why it's so hailed as one of the best albums of all time. It's a clever, well written album, but I fail to see what distinguishes it from its peers. Also, after numerous listens, I still profess to prefer Pablo Honey.
In 1997 Radiohead followed up their first two albums ("Pablo Honey" and "The Bends") with one of the true masterpieces of British rock music. Whereas their earlier, well received efforts had been instantly accessible, traditional rock albums, albeit influenced in parts by grunge and Britpop respectively, "OK Computer" is innovative, experimental and packed with some of the highest quality music I've ever heard. It confirms them as more than just rock musicians - they are music artists.
At a time when Britpop was in its death throes and Oasis were on the cusp of releasing "Be Here Now", an album which would leave everyone craving music with genuine substance, Radiohead were ahead of the curve and had already released this magnificent album. The guitars are prevalent, but there is also the first sign that Radiohead are willing to experiment with anything - samples, spooky keyboards, ethereal electronic a and a breathtaking use of percussion.
The album starts with the snarling guitar riff of "Airbag" which follows on from their previous album ("The Bends") and eases the listener into the experience. The track listing is as follows:
Subterranean Homesick Alien
Exit Music (For a Film)
Climbing Up the Walls
After "Airbag", "Paranoid Android" follows, a sprawling epic veering from thrash to prog rock to ballad and back. Lyrically, it scales the heights; obsessed with power, it ends on a refrain of 'God loves his children yeah' and one is left unsure of the final meaning - cynicism with religion, or the last vestige of hope. The first interpretation seems more likely, yet the beauty is in the uncertainty.
Another highlight for me was "Exit Music". It is a haunting song, devastating in its simplicity. It is based on a typical 'Romeo and Juliet' love story, but the guitars are so hushed, and Thom Yorke's voice so powerfully beautiful, his hushed tones ramped up to a conclusion so climactic it is as though his voice is about to make itself physically manifest. Just awesome.
"Let Down" is about as conventional as the album allows itself to become, "Karma Police" is a song agonising in its simplicity yet beautifully executed. "Fitter Happier" is about the only low point on the album, a computer generated voice that blends with spooky samples and strange percussion. The idea is good, but in practise it's not the most musically astute move on the album. This is followed by "Electioneering" which takes the rock and roll template and shakes it out in a whole new way, really rocking, really dancing, yet strangely modern. "Climbing Up the Walls" sends a shiver down the spine, a shimmering vocal which barely cuts through the intimidating, foreboding bass line and chorus. The climax features a scream which genuinely scares me. "No Surprises" is a wonderful piece of music. Who else could use a xylophone in that way apart from Radiohead?
The final two songs are a great finish, perhaps a little bit too similar in tone for my liking after the rest of the album has been such a mix, but good songs in any case.
What is so striking about the album is its diversity. The vocals range from smooth, to rough and ready rock and blues. Thom Yorke's falsetto is heartbreaking, and his hushed singing suggests mystery, and also sets the mood wonderfully. This is a landmark album, full of killer lyrics concerned with power, corruption, and desperation in the modern age, so at odds with the euphoria that Britpop had brought in the 90's until that point. "Ok Computer" acts as the wake up call, and does it superbly.
When you see these Top Ten albums of all time lists, quite often Radiohead, OK Computer is up there. This album came out way back in 1997, it was a huge hit for the band. I bought this one off the hype and never really liked it back then. Now as my taste in music has changed I love this album. It has some amazing songs on it. So here is what I think of the tracks:
1. Airbag - If you have never heard Radiohead, you listen to this and either think, wow! Or you turn it off and launch it out your car window. This song tells you exactly what the band are all about. Crazy blue sky music! 8/10
2. Paranoid Android - Bonkers! A really stunning song. It is so strange, I used to hate this song, now I love it. Some magical sounds, and Tom Yorke's vocal range is just stunning! 10/10
3. Subterranean Homesick Alien - These guys must really have been out of it when they made this kind of song. It's just so weird. Has a beautiful sound to it though that you can't help but fall in love with. 8/10
4. Exit Music - Ever wanted to throw yourself of a cliff? Yes? You must have been listening to this song! It's amazing, but so depressing! A real piece of magic from the band. 9/10
5. Let Down - Slightly more upbeat than other songs. Another great tune, not sure what instruments they use but they make such a unique sound. 9/10
6. Karma Police - Stunning! Crazy lyrics 'her hitler hairdo is making me feel ill'. Ey? One of the most powerful songs I have ever heard and a real classic. I love this song! 10/10
7. Fitter Happier - Weird. Not a song, just has a robotic voice talking over some piano music. 7/10
8. Electioneering - This one is a bit heavier. Another good song and showing a different side to the band! 8/10
9. Climbing Up The Walls - More chilled out crazy music. This is not one of my favorites, was never quite able to get into this one. 7/10
10. No Surprises - Just kill me now and have done with it! Another amazing song. It is so beautiful, Yorke's insesant drone just makes it sounds so miserable. But in a good way if that's possible! 9/10
11. Lucky - This one kind of builds slowly and gains momentum. Another brilliant song that I do enjoy listening too. 8/10
12. The Tourist - Magical way to round off a magical album. More heavenly sounds, with Yorke projecting his voice skywards. Amazing! 9/10
Well what an album. Is like nothing I have ever heard before and probably will never hear again. It can be a bit miserable, but there is a time and a place for this kind of music. So if your in that time and place, this is perfect. A wonderful album that everyone should own!
Overall would rate it 9/10
Not only is OK Computer one of the most overrated albums of the 1990's but it is one of the most overrated compositions in the whole of musical history. OK Computer is far from a bad album, in fact, it is very good one. Unfortunately in recent years critics have blown the magnitude of this album out of proportion and anybody listening to it for the first time cannot help but feel a little shortchanged after all the praise that has been heaped upon it.
Things start with the tragic explosion of guitars and thumping drums of Airbag, which funnily enough details the events of being saved by an airbag in a car crash and being "born again". I have no doubt in my mind that this is a euphemism for something of a higher order but I'm not going to challenge myself with the bands' cryptic messages and neither should you. Almost immediately a problem becomes apparent with OK Computer and that the issue is the clarity of Thom Yorke's vocals doesn't really help anyone. Occasionally hard to distinguish where one word ends and another starts it can be an extremely frustrating experience for the first time Radiohead listener. Although, this isn't always the case and Thom Yorke does have an almost angelic voice when he successfully implements it, it's just a shame that if you aren't prepared to give the songs time to develop and unfold it is far too easy to write him off simply whining.
Paranoid Android is a tremendous accomplishment on the bands' part and I always consider it a highlight of the album. Check the funky bass line at 2 minutes in and melt; it sets the scene nicely for Yorke's change in vocal tone which in turn gives violence the go ahead as he screams at the top of his voice "YOU DON'T REMEMBER?? WHY DON'T YOU REMEMBER MY NAME?? OFF WITH HIS HEAD"! This of course is swiftly followed by an unquestionably storming guitar solo from Jonny Greenwood!!
Exit music (for a film) starts off extremely sad and downbeat until something akin to monastery chants from monks impress a gargantuan impression of fear and terror upon the listener. Further distortion is introduced at a little before the 3 minute mark and it truly makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Moments such as Climbing Up the Walls and Electioneering shovel brilliantly written pieces of music upon you by the spade full and Thom's vocals really shine on the latter. These songs are also worth checking out for some great musicianship and superior guitar work.
I used to detest this album and rubbish the name Radiohead at every opportunity for this once overrated monstrosity, but over time my appreciation of OK Computer has grown ten-fold. While I still prefer The Bends and find it the far more emotive album of the two, OK Computer is no doubt the moment in time in which Radiohead started shooting for the stars and tried to outdo everything that they had previously accomplished.
I can pleasingly report that for the most past, they succeed.
Read more of my reviews at www.danielkemp.webs.com
This is an amazing album full stop.
1. "Airbag" - This song starts the album perfectly, heavy drilling guitars with lovely melodic play, Thom's voice is a mix of gentle and manic, he drawls with a strange dislocated melody playing behind him before launching into the chorus which makes no sense to me at all but is something I always wail along to pretending I understand it.
2. "Paranoid Android" - Simply one of the greatest, most innovative songs of all time, I thought the video they made for this perfectly summed it up, this is incredible, with the screaming chorus of 'you don't remember, you don't remember', this song is a mixed up little kitten, full of paranoid voices in your head, with a computer voice reeling off random words, a gentle melodic guitar playing through the lower notes and heavy thrash through the manic episodes, this is what it feels like to be in Thom Yorke's head around that time, negative, paranoid it feels angry and violent, it feels like Thom has walked into a bar full of bankers and is disgusted, talking about their 'opinion being of no consequence at all'. This is heavy stuff, the song is like Bohemian Rhapsody in that it falls into distinct phases but also references the Beatles in songs like 'A day in the Life' in successfully mutating from one style to another within a few bars, this is one of my all time favourite songs and I even think Sia's drawly cover of it is excellent too.
3. "Subterranean Homesick Alien" - I love Thom's gentle voice on this one with the distorted guitar and the lo-fi drumming in the background, the lyrics are stunning, there is a shouty part which fits with this image of a man on edge, talking about beauty and then feeling overwhelmed, I really adore this song, it has elements of pity, of peace and of wonderment wrapped up in quite a warped vocal.
4. "Exit Music (For a Film)" - A gentle guitar, a gentle lyric, this sounds like a man who has had too much, it starts slowly and builds to sweeping chorus'. For me this is a love song, I think of love and loss when I hear it, I love the sweeping guitars and how Thom's voice rises to meet it perfectly, an elegant, beautiful bittersweet song.
5. "Let Down" 4:59 - Starting with the complicated guitar melody, this is one of the more traditional songs on the album, again lyrically its hard to read what its about, as with most Radiohead songs, Thom sounds sad and lonely and talks about disappointed people and being 'let down and hanging around', I love his use of words and how something so sad can sound so beautiful, the song builds, the drums become more crashing, Thoms vocals are supported by other voices and the guitars meld with the bass to form a musical explosion of sorts.
6. "Karma Police" - 'Karma police arrest this man, he talks in melts' , this starts with a wonderful piano melody and crashes into something more sinister, Thom's voice is raised like a frightened cat, he's negative and lashing out, I love the comment about 'arrest this girl with the hitler hairdo'.
The chorus is wonderful, low key but then building to wonderful thumping drums and bass, the song has wonderful rhythym and lyrics, Yorke is wonderful and again if you really listen the creepy backing vocals add to the madness of this song, elegant madness.
7. "Fitter Happier" - A computer voice talks about being fitter, happier and more productive, talking about feeling better, not feeling lonely, being a better person, more normal, more suburban, it starts so positively, robotically, a melancholic piano in the background, a strange noise occurs, the voice becomes harder to hear, we return to it and we hear somebody who is 'concerned but powerless', 'like a pig in a cage on antibiotics'. For me this is about Prozac or something similar and its ability to take away negativity but in turn take away creativity, its a compelling song questioning whether we should accept becoming robotic people who conform but don't compell, or whether we should be as messed up as we really are.
8. "Electioneering" - Starts with an enormous bass sound, this has jazzy elements to it, the bass almost fights the guitar, Phil thumps the drums for all their worth and Thom sounds almost detatched, punky and funky, this is a decent tune with a good chorus, it sways all over the place and is complex and layered, it is not the best song on the album but is better than most bands could ever dream of.
9. "Climbing Up the Walls" - This starts with a depressing dystopian beat with screeching noises in the background, Thom's voice is distorted and high, lyrics are distorted, heavy and disturbing, this is slow paced and heavy, it requires repeated listens, as with all of this album it builds to meaty choruses and the bass and guitar are prevalent as always although the use of violins on this song is welcome and adds to a sense of unease.
10. "No Surprises" 3:48 - One of my favourite Radiohead songs, the melody is wonderful, the use of a xylophone add to the feeling of a Tim Burton-esque wicked fairytale, Thom sounds like he is on anti-biotics, restrained and held, the lyrics are about bringing down governments and people being unhappy, this is a very personal tune and one with enormous resonance for me. I listen to this to cheer me up as it has a real uplifting side when you think about it, I think its beautifully sad and the lyrics are stunning but make sense in portions only, it sounds like a goodbye note to somebody, but part of me thinks its a goodbye note to the old Thom Yorke, as his lyrics hint at a desire to be happier.
11. "Lucky" - This is another amazing song, it sings about plane crashes, but talks about luck changing and again its incredibly depressing with its slow guitars and Thoms weak drawl but the lyrics for me are a turning point, the guitars hint at Pink Floyd, the drums are splendid but the lyrics and vocal make this song something special.
12. "The Tourist" - A decent tune to finish the album, although one of the weakest this has a lazy feel, a feeling of relaxation, its almost as though the rest of the album has been such a struggle for the band and its listeners that you need this to wind down so you don't walk away wired or incredibly depressed.
This is generally categorised as one of the greatest albums of all time and for me it is, it tries so many things, when you listen to the textures and layers of each song, they have put so much effort in, each band member is on top of their game, Thom Yorkes vocals and lyrics are exceptional and point to a man in a sense of upheaval feeling awful and trying to get better. It is for me an uplifting album, one of somebody overcoming themselves. I would recommend this on so many levels.
The album brings all of these songs together and they fit,the mood changes during the album, particularly after the computer vocal of 'fitter, happier' this is a triumph of production and ideas.
The album costs around £6 at Play.com and is great value, alternatively you can borrow it from any library to listen to, or purchase downloads for around a fiver on I-Tunes
This was the bands third album followed on from the successes of Pablo Honey and The Bends. Must be ten years now since it was released. It stands the test of time well, the mark of any good album. For me it's got better with age. OK Computer is an intense and atmospheric exploration of the modern world. It is a diverse and provocative collection of songs full of oblique social commentaries and subtle cynicism about consumer society, urban alienation and technological breakdown. From the psycho melody of 'No Surprises' to the schizophrenic rant of Paranoid Android it tramples across a malignant British cultural landscape, has a dig at false modernity, spits in the eye of capitalism, puts on the white cloak of a madman and looks death in the face.
The album absorbs a wide range of musical influences from different artists and periods. According to lead singer Tom Yorke one major influence was 'Bitches Brew' by jazz composer Miles Davis, especially apparent on "Subterranean Homesick Alien". Other influences are said to come from Ennio Morricone supposedly on 'Exit Movie (for a film), although I fail to recognise any. 'No Surprises' is said to derive its inspiration from the Beach Boys and Marvin Gaye.
Although dominated by a guitar sound, the album incorporates a diverse range of instrumentation that partially reflects the influence of contemporary classical composer Krzysztof Penderecki. There is an electric piano, mellotron, cello, glockenspiel and even a cow bell on 'Electioneering'. Other string instruments are over laden with various electronic effects and rhythms. The spaced out track "Climbing Up the Walls" uses metallic drum beats and an ambient background of electronically produced insect noises. The quirky synthetic voice on 'Fitter Happier' divides the album neatly.
The Karma Police is probably the stand out track for me set around acoustic guitar and piano, with a chord progression derived from The Beatles' "Sexy Sadie" and unforgettable lines like:
"...arrest this man, he talks in maths. he buzzes like a fridge, he's like a detuned radio. Karma police, arrest this girl, her Hitler hairdo, is making me feel ill..."
Although the beautiful poetry of 'Airbag' - a song about a born again car crash victim comes a close second:
"in a jack knifed juggernaut, I am born again, in the neon sign scrolling up and down,
I am born again"
In recent years OK Computer has often been acclaimed as one of the best albums ever made. It may not be, as once voted by the readers of Q magazine, the greatest album since time began, but it is an accomplished piece of work. Certainly a defining moment of the 1990s. It's influence is clearly evident in subsequent work produced by bands such as Cold Play, Travis, Bloc Party and Snow Patrol.
When I hear OK computer I immediately think of one of the best albums ever made. That is no something that I can say lightly but it is true.Radiohead are one of the best brittish bands ever. In this generation they are the best band! Themusic is definately one for those with musical intelligance. You can admire the creative and brilliant writing by these musicians. Every track is a great listen. They are ordered in such a way as the album becomes a piece of art. Channel 4 rated this number 1 in the 100 greatest albums of all times. It beat off the beatles and queen. Thats not something done easily. It shows how much respect people have for radiohead and also why you should buy this album straight away. People from any musical tastes will love the music in this album as it delivers on so many levels.
Radiohead - OK Computer (1997)
When i think of all the albums that i've listened to which have had a genuine effect on me, the one album which always sits at the top of the list is this. Most people who know me, will know that i'm a huge Radiohead fan. I've always been fascinated by the link between musical content and the message which it sends out to society. There are some bands who make no excuses for what they're worth. They churn out poppy songs with fancy hooks that shift records from shelves. I was a fan of those particular bands for, well, most of my life. Until i heard Radiohead's "OK Computer". This one album changed my entire taste in music, and also introduced me to a slightly more reflective outlook on society. They're the band that inspired many of today's acts. Coldplay and Muse have both cited Radiohead as their ultimate catalysts. Rightly so, Radiohead are the modern day Pink Floyd in that they bring something utterly different to a music indistry which is flagging painfully.
"OK Computer" is the album which propelled Radiohead from post-Grunge alternative rockers, to become the most important band in the world. Arriving on the scene in 1993 with their debut album, "Pablo Honey", they were dismissed as one hit wonders in the light of their one big commercial hit ("Creep"). Fronted by Thom Yorke, they remained essentially a guitar-driven band through the early 90's. The release of their second album ("The Bends") saw them earn a very loyal fan following and there was a reasonable deal of expectation surrounding their next record. When "Ok Computer" was released in 1997, it received worldwide acclaim and quickly became acknowledged as one of the records of the year. Swooping various awards, the critics loved the futuristic sound that resonated from the album. Success took the band members by storm, and Thom Yorke has been, and still is, notoriously vocal in his dislike for the spotlight which they were plunged in to. A global tour through 1997 and 1998 turned Radiohead in to arguably the most respected band on the planet.
I still remember the first time i listened to "OK Computer". It didn't click at first. Like most Radiohead records, their sound is so complex, so multi-textured, it really does take a few listens to understand just what it is that Yorke's lyrics are trying to convey. After playing it through a few times, i slowly found myself slipping in to each track and becoming emerged in the music, in a way that i've never felt before. Each song is constructed in such a way that the album succeeds admirably in making every song sound different, yet never losing the theme of the record.
The theme itself is often pondered over, and the band have never really given a clear indication of what it's all about. Believing, probably quite rightly, that to disect every last detail would be to reveal the magic, Thom Yorke has gone as far as to refuse interviews on the subject. When a band refuses to talk about it's own music, it merely serves to create more interest. Perhaps an indication as to why their follow-up album ("Kid A") debuted at number one worldwide without any radio or television play. Even now, eight years on from it's original release, OK Computer remains a remarkable feat of musical engineering. It's the album which refined the way that i listen to music, and it sits at the top of my list when it comes to all-time favorite records. If you haven't heard this album, i wouldn't say that you're missing out, since there's no other record that you can compare it to. It's an album which you have to be patient with. I often preach about intelligent music which requires the listener to make the effort to appreciate it, and people tell me that it's crazy to have to do such a thing. But this album is an artistic achievement more than anything, just like a good book, it requires a lot of effort to understand. The reward though, is an experience that you'll rarely find in the modern day music industry.
Airbag - ( In an interstellar burst / I am back to save the universe ) - 8.5/10
Thom: "Has an airbag saved my life? Nah...but I tell you something, every time you have a near accident, instead of just sighing and carrying on, you should pull over, get out of the car and run down the street screaming, 'I'm BACK! I'm ALIVE! My life has started again today!'. In fact, you should do that every time you get out of a car. We're just riding on those things - we're not really in control of them."
The album kicks off with this excellent track and it really sets the tone for the album immediately. A drum loop features in the background, and Yorke's voice hums over the proceedings. Some great guitar work, a recurring theme across the album. This is one of Radiohead's better openers to an album.
Paranoid Android - ( When i am king / You will be first against the wall / With your opinion / Which is of no consequence at all ) - 9.5/10
An epic six-minute track which originally started as three smaller songs. The band took inspiration from John Lennon and pieced them together, the result is one of Radiohead's most famous pieces of work. A fan favorite when played live, Jonny's guitar work here is some of the greatest on any album, past or present. When Thom cuts in to his crying of "Rain down, Rain down, Come on rain down on me" you almost feel sorry for the guy. This song was released as a single, with a famous cartoon video. A centerpiece to the album.
Subterranean Homesick Alien - ( I'd tell all my friends but they'd never believe me / They'd think that I'd finally lost it completely ) - 8/10
This song floats along with some great studio work, the dreamlike sounds float up and really mesmorise if you listen with headphones. The lyrics are equally dreamlike, with Thom voicing his dismay at society. Almost forgotten amidst the other heavyweight songs, this is perhaps one of the best achievements from a musical standpoint.
Exit Music - (Wake from your sleep / The drying of your tears / Today we escape / We escape ) - 10/10
Thom: "I saw the Zeffirelli version [of Romeo and Juliet] when I was 13 and I cried my eyes out, because I couldn't understand why, the morning after they shagged, they didn't just run away. The song is written for two people who should run away before all the bad stuff starts. A personal song."
This song acts as the closing credits for the remake of "Romeo and Juliet". It's a hugely powerful track which starts off with the mere acoustic guitar work of Yorke, followed by the clear vocals of how a couple are being torn apart by their parents. As the song progresses, the rest of the band come in and the sound spirals out of control until finally dying down as Thom screams that "Now we are one, in everlasting peace". You can feel the emotion and this is a fine example of what Radiohead do best.
Let Down - ( One day / I am gonna grow wings / A chemical reaction / Hysterical and useless ) - 10/10
This is perhaps Radiohead's most underated song in all of their commercial work. It bounces a long with excellent drumming and such a complex sound that even now, after hundreds of listens, i'm still discovering extra riffs and hooks. There's a point halfway through this song where the music peels apart only to come back together as Yorke chants the final chorus, and it's a captivating feeling when it finally hits you. It still amazes me how any band could put together a sound this complex, yet hit all the right notes in the all the right places. This is probably my favorite song on the album.
Karma Police - ( For a minute there / I lost myself ) - 9/10
Jonny: "It was a band catchphrase for a while on tour - whenever someone was behaving in a particularly shitty way, we'd say, 'The karma police will catch up with him sooner or later'"
Thom: "This is a song against bosses, fuck middle management!"
One of the most famous songs in Radiohead's repertoire. Karma Police was released as a single and received a lot of airplay for it's hymn like quality. Some excellent backing vocals really make this song for me. It's structured perfectly and makes use of each band member's craftwork. Not quite as catchy as the hooks you'll find in the mainstream, but by Radiohead's standards, it's a great singalong.
Electioneering - ( When i go forwards / You go backwards / Somewhere we will meet ) - 9.5/10
Thom: "We live under a world banking system and media that make it almost irrelevant who is in power. Political systems worldwide are at the mercy of business and bullshit economies. I can't recycle any of the polythene packaging that fills my house. Why?"
Originally frowned upon for standing out slightly from the rest of the album, this is a rip-roaring rock song which raises the tempo and follows a brief computerised interlude known as "Fitter Happier". The guitar work, as you'd expect here, is outstanding. It's amazing how the three guitarists can play their seperate parts in tandem and produce such a faultless sound. A political song, which really gets the crowd moving when played live.
Climbing Up The Walls - ( So lock the kids up safe tonight / Put the eyes in the cupboard / I've got the smell of a local man / Who's got the loneliest feeling ) - 9/10
This acted as a sign of things to come for Radiohead. Described as the first scary song in the band's repertoire, the eerie dancing sounds combine effectively to produce a song which really does strike an uncomfortable nerve with me. It has a threatening scary sound, but one of the standout transitions of the album which really marks Radiohead for their intelligence. The track scares the listener in to a state of insecurity, before fading straight in to a child's lullaby.
No Surprises - ( A heart that's full up like a landfill / A job that slowly kills you / Bruises that wont heal ) - 10/10
Infamously panned as "Cut your wrists" music on Sky News, No Surprises is positioned perfectly on the album. It takes the unsettled listener back to bed with a simple glockenspiel intro which has become a trademark sound for Radiohead. This song really is capable of guiding you in to a deep sleep and the sounds are so enchanting that you hear something new every time, although on the surface it sounds like a simple format. Yorke's voice retains it's cool throughout. Originally slated as a potential "World Number One Hit", it's hard not to fall in love with the "little is more" sound that the band produce here.
Lucky - ( Pull me out of the aircrash / Pull me out of the lake / I'm your superhero baby ) - 8/10
A happy song deliberately modified with a slow tempo to fit in with the rest of the album. The opening tingly rift sets the tone immediately and the band once again whisk the listener away from the cosy "No Suprises" in to a much larger sound. Yorke's vocals are near their most effective hear and he really gets the emotion across perfectly. Some nice inventive guitar work helps retain the theme of the album through yet another song.
The Tourist - ( They ask me where the hell i'm going / At a 1000 feet per second ) - 9.5/10
Thom: "We were in a beautiful square in France on a sunny day, and watching all these American tourists being wheeled around, frantically trying to see everything in 10 minutes. I was shocked at how these people could be in a place so beautiful and so special and not realize it because they weren't taking the time to just stop and look around."
A really beautiful closing to the album. Yorke pleads with the listener to "Slow down", and you can feel the spacey strings bringing out every last drip of emotion. The track sounds like the perfect ending to any album, as it slows the tempo and winds in to a furious cry of emotion from the frontman. The song fades away quietly and you know that you've been taken on a music exploration of such diversity, it really is hard to explain. The Tourist marks the end of Radiohead's guitar routes, and the end of OK Computer.
To restrict Ok Computer to a mere analysis of each song would be to do the work an injustice. This is an album which has to be listened to and appreciated from start to finish. It will go down in history as the record which made Radiohead the world's most important band, although years from now, it'll be perhaps their follow-up album (Kid A) which stands out as their defining work. But if you're a fan of intelligent music, don't accept anything less. This could very well be the album you've been waiting your entire life to hear.
Having released two albums, which revolutionized music the world waited to see exactly how Radiohead were going to follow up Pablo Honey and The Bends. Well the answer from the Oxford band was Ok Computer a superb album, which again would move the goal posts for modern music.
The British band are becoming one of the biggest acts in the world and this album released in 1997 went a bit further to proofing that point.
Track 1: Airbag
The albums opening track starts with a guitar and some bells gently tapping in the back ground before the drums come in leading into the vocals. A pretty mellow sounding song that wouldn't be out of place on the bends eases you into the third album. A solid drumbeat throughout the song and the first use of the samples, which have become do prominent in this album. The end of the track uses even more samples before eventually leading of nicely straight into Paranoid Android.
Track 2: Paranoid Android
As just mentioned Airbag leads nicely into Paranoid Android, which starts with a guitar and maracas. The first single released from the album had a cartoon video and with the song lasting over 6 minutes it is also the longest on the album. The bass and guitar are used to keep the main beat with a few samples mixed in for the chorus and the maracas keeping time nicely instead of a drum.
Track 3: Subterranean Homesick Alien
Bit of a weird name for a song but that is something that Radiohead seem to specialise in. It starts with a deep echoing Bass before the guitar and drums come in with a few samples and then the vocals. This is the longest song on the album at almost 6 and a half minutes. The song drifts along in a nice peaceful vibe that not only relaxes you but also could quite easily help you drift of to sleep. This is a wonderful piece of music that carries on at the same mellow tempo only picking up for the chorus.
Track 4: Exit Music (For a Film)
This song starts with a acoustic guitar playing before the vocals come in quite dark and deep. The echo on the vocals adds an eerie complexion to the song. The song carries on with just Yorke's vocals and the acoustic guitar before a vocal chorus joins in with part of the song. A few samples are used in the background. The mellow vibe carries on when the drums and Bass come in towards the end. The vocals also pick up towards the end getting faster and losing the creepy vibe.
Track 5: Let Down
The next track starts a little bit more upbeat than the last one with the drums coming in a lot earlier with the guitars and vocals. Another very mellow song, although its not quite as laid back and relaxing as the last one. Again the vocals sound superb like on any other Radiohead song.
Track 6: Karma Police
Another of the singles released on this album Karma Police was the video where the car was chasing someone along the road before he blew it up. A slow guitar intro before the vocals come in on another mellow relaxing tune. After a few listens the lyrics become quite memorable, even though there aren't really that much of a difference. The vocals sound superb again and Thom Yorke is showing why Radiohead are changing music with songs like this.
Track 7: Fitter Happier
This is a bit of a bizarre song. Starts with a computerised voice just talking and a bit of background noise with a piano playing. This really lets the album down, as the voice is a little bit annoying. Its just less than 2 minutes long and really an ideal candidate to be skipped, but at least its the only one on the album.
Track 8: Electioneering
A tambourine starts this song off before the guitars and drums come in for a fairly upbeat song by this albums standards. The vocals come in and the song is very catchy and one of those you can't actually sing along with but can tap your foot to or your hand on the steering wheel. The vocals aren't that clear but it seems to add to the effect of the song and make it a little better. Another of those weird song names though for the song that is probably my favourite on the album.
Track 9: Climbing Up The Walls
A sample kicks off this track before it gets a little darker with the introduction of a couple of other samples. You can hear a little of the influence on the last couple of Blur albums on here, which just reinforces my point about Radiohead being a spearhead for other bands. Although at first it sounds a little dark and depressing, there is no doubt that this is a quality song.
Track 10: No Surprises
The third of the singles from the album and probably the second best track on it. It starts with a piano and guitar mixed sample before the guitars really start to build a little in to the beautiful lyrics. The vocals are calm and soothing and really suit in with the musical element of the song. It keeps a slow mellow pace throughout the song. Really enjoyable to listen to especially on a day like this when it really suits the mood the rain has set.
Track 11: Lucky
Well were now onto the second to last track, which again starts with a quiet sample before the guitar and vocals come in. Again its quite a relaxing, mellow track with superb lyrics again; Yorke's voice really does suit this type of track. The drums keep time well and let the song carry on in places with a guitar solo, which sounds superb.
Track 12: The Tourist
The final track on the album, the Tourist starts with a piano in a similar way to a Coldplay song. The drums join in with it with a slow beat before the vocals come in with a similar style to all the other songs. The vocals reach new heights on this song and its maybe something a little slower as it is the end of the album.
It did take me a while to get into this album but if you like anything you've heard by Radiohead then you will love this. A lot of bands coming onto the scene are being heralded as the new Radiohead, which must be a real compliment to Radiohead. The album will set you back a bargain £8.99 from CD-wow.com and its well worth it as your getting a superb album.
Well how do you follow up from one of the greatest albums of all time, the bends, well u change course because another rock album would not have done so. enter the amazing electronically produced Ok computer. Ok computer exceeded my expectations so much, it takes a few listens and sayingf to yourself 'what the hell is this?' Then all of a sudden it just clicks and you gradually grow to love every track and i meqan love every track! Starting off with airbag which is superb and then blending into the outstanding paranoid android. This album takes you on a journey. every track is brilliant and completely different, Thom Yorkes vocals are amazing, listen to exit music and you will understand, an absolkutely tremendous song which erupts into a crescendo for the last 30 seconds. Karma police is probably the most commercial song but still is superb and will have you singing lines like 'her hitler hairdo's making me feel ill'. No surprise sounds like a quaint happy song but is far from it when you listen to the lyrics 'a heart thats full up like a landfill a job that slowly kills u, bruises that wont heal'. Brilliant stuff! My favourite track is that haunting climbing up the walls, which is such a paranoid freaky song but you find yourself wailing along to it and singing the chorus. Electioneering goes back to their routes in a rock tune which could have come straight off the bends. Seriously this album is groundbreaking, if you dont have this album, purchase it, its one of the greatest of our time, up there with the beatles! People who say radiohead are depressing are talking rubbish, this album is far from depressing. such an original album which sounds so different from any other but amazingly you still will learn all the words and sing along to it in a Yorke sounding voice but cant pull it off. Great album!! P Dogg out
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Paranoid Android
3 Subterranean Homesick Alien
4 Exit Music (For A Film)
5 Let Down
6 Karma Police
7 Fitter Happier
9 Climbing Up The Walls
10 No Surprises