|associated singles/EPs:||I Promise|
Man of War
No Surprises / Running From Demons
|covers:||A Tribute To OK Computer by Various Artists|
KO Computer by Various Artists
OK Computer (8-bit) by Quinton Sung
OK Computer Turns 10 by Various Artists
Radiodread by Easy Star All‐Stars
Stereogum Presents… OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer by Various Artists
Strung Out on OK Computer: The String Quartet Tribute to Radiohead by The Section Quartet
|included in:||5 Album Set (Pablo Honey / The Bends / OK Computer / Kid A / Amnesiac)|
Album Box Set
|part of:||Grammy Award: Best Alternative Music Album nominees (number: 1998 winner)|
Absolute Radio's The 100 Collection (number: 39)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2020 edition (number: 42)
Mercury Prize shortlist nominees (number: 1997)
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 162)
As an occasional admirer of this band, I've never quite got my head around the fact that OK Computer *is considered by many (British) music fans to be one of the Greatest Albums of All Time. On its release, I listened to it just once and, unmoved, moved on. Ten years after its release, *OK Computer's slow-growing appeal has finally worked its magic. I still wouldn't rate it as a desert island disc, but it is undeniably a great album, well deserving of the 'classic rock' tag.
Recorded during the dying days of Conservative rule in the UK, perhaps it was the despairing-yet-hopeful tone and the theme of alienation that captured the Zeitgeist of the time. Intelligent without being intellectual, and political (Electioneering) yet never literal or linear enough to be hectoring, it also must have represented a sophisticated alternative to mainstream Britpop, which by then had lost much of its spark. The 'prog rock for the nineties' tag that some critics lumbered it with doesn1t really stand up, even if the three-part structure and ambition of "Paranoid Android" does have more than a whiff of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" about it. But contrasted with the muscular economy of the opening "Airbag" and the wonderfully evocative, saturated soundscape of "Subterranean Homesick Alien", it makes perfect sense as part of a seamless sequence that runs all the way (via tunes as memorable as "Karma Police" and "No Surprises"), to the emotionally bruised finale of "The Tourist". This is one of those rare albums that can be listened to as a single piece of music.
The dense instrumental textures never seem over-stuffed and are wide-ranging and often thrilling, driven by Phil Selway1s meaty drumming, layered with growling guitars and the varied use of keyboards, synthesisers and electronic treatments. Tom Yorke's dread-filled voice will get on some peoples' nerves. It sometimes rises into a trademark falsetto and is often partly buried in the mix, but when it emerges, there are none of the usual boy-meets-girl clichés. And for that, we must be thankful.