All-time favourites /// Radiohead ‘OK Computer’ (1997)

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Being human in our times can prove a challenging thing to do. The era of smart machines, various devices and ever-present-in-our-life gadgets can drive anybody nuts. However, this constant buzz can inspire truly great works of music, like Radiohead‘s third studio album ‘OK Computer’ (1997). You’ve probably already lost count of how often this record was included in various lists of best/great/greatest albums of the year/10 years/all times, but that’s the destiny of all great albums, so don’t bother. So, why exactly is ‘OK Computer’ so grand?

When Radiohead found themselves at the point when they needed to start thinking about their next studio album, the band firmly decided to do things differently from the work at their first two efforts. As studio work caused Radiohead a lot of discomfort, pain and strained the musicians, they teamed up with Nigel Godrich – sound engineer, producer and Radiohead’s friend sometimes called the sixth member of the band, bought a mobile studio to be able to write anywhere and set to work. And the new approach paid off generously. As if having got rid of the fetters and ‘it’s-a-must’ pressure, Radiohead found themselves in the flow of inspiration which allowed them to finish the recordings of the album without much painstaking. However, real problems came with the final stages of work. When Radiohead heard what they’d recorded, they were shocked: having been as inspired as never before, the band created the album which sounded like nothing they’d recorded before. Bearing a classic morose, gloomy air with sarcastic coating, ‘OK Computer’ was living its own life of a greatly crafted album with complicated labyrinths of structures, numerous layers drowning in the darkness and excellence.

However, it’s fair to say that ‘OK Computer’ had started this life of its own even earlier when the band were planningRadiohead-OK-Computer the album. Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke wanted to create a positive album and even was writing down all the good things that captured his attention. But he couldn’t incorporate them into his music as it meant going against his will, producing something artificial and alien to the musician. More abstract, but still bearing an autobiographical touch between the lines, the lyrics of ‘OK Computer’ ended up as gloomy, sarcastic and cynical as opposed to the initial plan, but harmonious and organic stories about disasters, fake people or constant humming of computers.

After the band had taken a lot of time to finalise the record, put the tracks in the suitable sequence, time came to show their new brainchild to the public. That was something the band, and especially Thom, feared most. This album was so special and so unusual, that they probably didn’t understand the whole grandeur of it just then. The feelings of vulnerability, insecurity and the unasked question ‘What will people say about it?’ haunted the band right to the moment when they started receiving first reviews – and those were raving reviews. Every tiny detail the band wanted to draw attention to was noticed and understood, the level of mastery on ‘OK Computer’ was exceedingly perfect and the boldness didn’t go unnoticed. Creativity and foresight of the musicians in the way they structured the songs, energized them with that reverberating, captivating atmosphere were huge for that time.

Radiohead created the album which was destined to become a huge part of music history. Upon its arrival, ‘OK Computer’ settled in people’s minds for days on end, infecting and hypnotising with its gloom and elegance of craft. ‘OK Computer’ was simply destined to push Radiohead irreversibly to the status of one of the greatest rock bands in the world and it did the job perfectly.

Tracklisting:

1. Airbag
2. Paranoid Android
3. Subterranean Homesick Alien
4. Exit Music (For a Film)
5. Let Down
6. Karma Police
7. Fitter Happier
8. Electioneering
9. Climbing Up the Walls
10. No Surprises
11. Lucky
12. The Tourist

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Comments
2 Responses to “All-time favourites /// Radiohead ‘OK Computer’ (1997)”
  1. An amazing album. I really fell in love with Radiohead after hearing this album. Also, album songs great in concert.

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