OK Computer

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OK Computer
Studio album by
Released16 June 1997 (1997-06-16)
Recorded
  • 4 September 1995 ("Lucky")
  • July 1996 – March 1997
Studio
Genre
Length53:21
Label
ProducerNigel Godrich
Radiohead chronology
The Bends
(1995)
OK Computer
(1997)
Airbag / How Am I Driving?
(1998)
Radiohead studio album chronology
The Bends
(1995)
OK Computer
(1997)
Kid A
(2000)
Singles from OK Computer
  1. "Paranoid Android"
    Released: 26 May 1997
  2. "Karma Police"
    Released: 25 August 1997
  3. "Lucky"
    Released: December 1997
  4. "No Surprises"
    Released: 12 January 1998
  5. "Airbag"
    Released: 24 March 1998

OK Computer is an album by the band Radiohead. It was released in 1997.[1] It reached No.1 in the UK Albums Chart. Four singles were released from it. "Paranoid Android" reached No.3 in the UK. "No Surprises" reached No.4. It got good reviews. Pitchfork gave it 10 out of 10.[2]

Reception[change | change source]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[3]
Chicago Tribune3.5/4 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[5]
The Guardian4/5 stars[6]
NME10/10[7]
Pitchfork Media10/10[8]
Q5/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]
Spin8/10[11]
The Village VoiceB−[12]

OK Computer received near-unanimous critical acclaim. Critics in the British and American press generally agreed that the album was a landmark of its time and would have far-reaching impact and importance,[13][14] and that the band's willingness to experiment made it a challenging listen. According to Footman, "Not since 1967, with the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, had so many major critics agreed immediately, not only on an album's merits, but on its long-term significance, and its ability to encapsulate a particular point in history."[15] In the English press, the album garnered favourable reviews in NME,[7] Melody Maker,[16] The Guardian,[6] and Q.[9] Nick Kent wrote in Mojo that "Others may end up selling more, but in 20 years time I'm betting OK Computer will be seen as the key record of 1997, the one to take rock forward instead of artfully revamping images and song-structures from an earlier era."[17] "Every word sounds achingly sincere, every note spewed from the heart," wrote John Harris in Select, "and yet it roots itself firmly in a world of steel, glass, random-access memory and prickly-skinned paranoia."[18]

In an otherwise positive review, Andy Gill wrote for The Independent, "For all its ambition and determination to break new ground, OK Computer is not, finally, as impressive as The Bends, which covered much the same sort of emotional knots, but with better tunes. It is easy to be impressed by, but ultimately hard to love, an album that luxuriates so readily in its own despondency."[19]

The album was well received by critics in North America. Rolling Stone,[10] Spin,[11] and Pitchfork Media[8] published positive reviews. In The New Yorker, Alex Ross praised its progressiveness, and contrasted Radiohead's risk-taking with the musically conservative "dadrock" of their contemporaries Oasis. Ross wrote that "Throughout the album, contrasts of mood and style are extreme ... This band has pulled off one of the great art-pop balancing acts in the history of rock."[20]

Reviews for Entertainment Weekly,[5] the Chicago Tribune,[4] and Time[21] were mixed or contained qualified praise. Robert Christgau from The Village Voice said Radiohead immersed Yorke's vocals in "enough electronic marginal distinction to feed a coal town for a month" and to compensate for how soulless the songs are, resulting in "arid" art rock.[12]

The album appeared in many 1997 critics' lists and listener polls for best album of the year. It topped the year-end polls of Mojo, Vox, Entertainment Weekly, Hot Press, Muziekkrant OOR, HUMO, Eye Weekly and Inpress, and tied for first place with Daft Punk's Homework in The Face. The album came second in NME, Melody Maker, Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Spin and Uncut. Q and Les Inrockuptibles both listed the album in their unranked year-end polls.[22] It was a nominee for the 1997 Mercury Prize, a prestigious award recognising the best British or Irish album of the year.[23]

The near universal positive reception to the album overwhelmed the band, and some members thought the press was excessively congratulatory. Particularly irksome to the band were links to progressive rock and art rock, with frequent comparisons to Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon.[24] Yorke responded: "We write pop songs ... there was no intention of it being 'art'. It's a reflection of all the disparate things we were listening to when we recorded it."[25] He was nevertheless pleasantly surprised that many listeners identified the album's musical influences: "What really blew my head off was the fact that people got all the things, all the textures and the sounds and the atmospheres we were trying to create."[26] "In England, I think a lot of the reviews have been slightly over-the-top," remarked Jonny Greenwood, "because the last album [The Bends] was somewhat under-reviewed possibly and under-received."[27]

==Reissues==Radiohead left EMI, parent company of Parlophone, in 2007 after failed contract negotiations. EMI retained the copyright to Radiohead's back catalogue of material recorded while signed to the label.[28] After a period of being Out of print on vinyl, EMI reissued a double-LP of OK Computer on August 19, 2008, along with later albums Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief as part of the "From the Capitol Vaults" series.[29] OK Computer became the year's tenth best-selling vinyl record, shifting just under 10,000 units.[30] The reissue was connected in the press to a general upswing in vinyl sales and cultural appreciation of records as a format.[31][32]

OK Computer was reissued again on March 24, 2009 simultaneously with Pablo Honey and The Bends, without Radiohead's involvement. The reissue came in two editions: a 2-CD "Collector's Edition" and a 2-CD 1-DVD "Special Collector's Edition". The first disc contains the original studio album, the second disc contains B-sides collected from OK Computer singles and live recording sessions, and the DVD contains a collection of music videos and a live television performance.[33] All material on the reissue had been previously released.[34]

Professional ratings
"Collector's Edition"
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[35]
The A.V. ClubA[36]
Pitchfork Media10/10[37]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[38]
Q5/5 stars[39]
Uncut5/5 stars[40]

In a March 2009 interview, O'Brien claimed that EMI had not notified the band members of the reissue and said "I think the fans have got most of [the material on the reissues], it's all the stuff up on YouTube. This is just a company who are trying to squeeze every bit of lost money, it's not about [an] artistic statement."[41] Press reaction to the reissue announcement reflected the concern that EMI was exploiting Radiohead's back catalogue. Larry Fitzmaurice of Spin accused EMI of planning to "issue and re-issue [Radiohead's] discography until the cash stops rolling in",[33] and Pitchfork's Ryan Dombal said it was "hard to look at these reissues as anything other than a cash-grab for EMI/Capitol—an old media company that got dumped by their most forward-thinking band."[34] Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone defended EMI, saying "While it's easy to accuse Capitol of milking the cash cow once again, these sets are pretty comprehensive."[42]

The reissue was critically well received, although critics were mixed about the supplemental material. Reviews in AllMusic,[35] Uncut,[40] Q,[39] Rolling Stone[38] and PopMatters[43] praised the supplemental material, but with reservations. A review written by Scott Plagenhoef for Pitchfork awarded the reissue a perfect score, arguing that it was worth buying for fans who did not already own the rare material. Plagenhoef said, "That the band had nothing to do with these is beside the point: This is the final word on these records, if for no other reason that the Beatles' September 9 remaster campaign is, arguably, the end of the CD era."[37] The A.V. Club writer Josh Modell praised both the bonus disc and the DVD, and said of the album, "And what can be said about 1997's OK Computer that hasn't been said before? It really is the perfect synthesis of Radiohead's seemingly conflicted impulses."[36]

Track listing[change | change source]

All songs written and composed by Radiohead (Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Jonny Greenwood, Philip Selway, and Thom Yorke). 

No. Title Length
1. "Airbag"   4:44
2. "Paranoid Android"   6:23
3. "Subterranean Homesick Alien"   4:27
4. "Exit Music (For a Film)"   4:24
5. "Let Down"   4:59
6. "Karma Police"   4:21
7. "Fitter Happier"   1:57
8. "Electioneering"   3:50
9. "Climbing Up the Walls"   4:45
10. "No Surprises"   3:48
11. "Lucky"   4:19
12. "The Tourist"   5:24

Personnel[change | change source]

Charts and certifications[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

Footnotes

Citations

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  14. Clarke 2010, p. 121.
  15. Footman 2007, p. 182.
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