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Radiohead's third album got compared to Pink Floyd a lot when it came out, and its slow drama and conceptual sweep certainly put it in that category. OK Computer, though, is a complicated and difficult record: an album about the way machines dehumanize people that's almost entirely un-electronic; an album by a British "new wave of new wave" band that rejects speed and hooks in favor of languorous texture and morose details; a sad and humanist record whose central moment is Thom Yorke crooning "We hope that you choke." Sluggish, understated, and hard to get a grip on, OK Computer takes a few listens to appreciate, but its entirety means more than any one song.
Whilst one suspects some kind of pre-millennial hysteria prompted Q magazine's readers to vote OK Computer The Greatest Album Ever Made scarcely five months after its release, it certainly doesn't look stupid up there in the pantheon. Following the hot red rock attack of 1995's The Bends, OK Computer heads out into the cold deep space of prog-rock and comes back with stuff that makes mere pop earthlings like Stereophonics tremble. Whilst the eight-minute-long "Paranoid Android" comes across like "Bohemian Rhapsody" with a gun held to its head, and "Electioneering" is a little too like a kiddy-version of Blood And Chocolate-era Elvis Costello to be truly revelatory, the rest of OK Computer spans the sublime to the ridiculously sublime. Thom Yorke had been obsessed with Ennio Morricone during the recording of the album (in a haunted mansion, fact-fans), and it shows on the expansive space-dream of "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and the endlessly comforting closer "The Tourist". And if neither "No Surprises" (played on a toy guitar with Yorke and Ed O'Brien harmonising like a two-man Crowded House) nor "Lucky" (recorded in one day for the Bosnian aid album War Child--it reduced Yorke to tears the first time he heard it played back) make the hairs on your skin spit with electricity, then maybe you're with the Q reader who voted for Anita by Anita Dobson. --Caitlin Moran
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm partially writing this review so that the person with the review below me, Vader, won't be the first review you see. It seems he had gone to every single radiohead album and given it a bad review, and with nothing much to back up his opinon. Sure, this album isn't for everyone and if he doesn't like it, fine but a smart, intuitive, musically inclined person can see that these guys have a knack for writing atmospheric and captiving songs. Another review said that all drugs should be pulled from the market and people should just listen to this album. He's right. This album takes you to another world and you'll find yourself wanting more. I can't wait to hear what else Radiohead has to offer.
'Ok Computer' is packed with beautiful and melodic songs. Thom expressed himself that he tried to be a different person on every track, it shows. For example, the tortured torment he portrays on 'Climbing up the walls' is very different to the lulling 'No Surprises' - an instant classic.
The whole album is very varied in styles but not in quality, as all tracks stand out as strong and intricate 'art-rock'. Any one of them could have been a single.
1) Airbag - Brilliant introduction into the album, the song that reveals the wonderful way in which 'an airbag saved my life'. Very strong and some brilliant phasering effects.
2) Paranoid Android - The best song i have heard for some time now. Radiohead melt art-rock, solemn acoustics and hard rock, all into 6 and a half minutes of pure genius. Definitely one of the best songs ever written.
3) Subterranean Homesick Alien - One of my favourite tracks on the album. A mixture of calming rhodes piano with mystifying guitar effects to give you the feeling you have really been abducted by aliens.
4) Exit Music (For a film) - This song is played at the end credits of the film 'Romeo and Juliet'. Beautiful, almost baroque style. Strong, with haunting keyboard effects and a strong pulse until the end.
5) Let Down - A soft and wonderful mellow piece with the mention of squashing bugs and transport. Beautiful.
6) Karma Police - The trade mark 'the karma police will get you' track.Read more ›
Airbag is a banging opener, but Paranoid Android is a trip. The different pieces of it fit together, and the time signature shifts only add to the forceful element of the song. The Homesick Alien song is nice and dreamy and Exit Music is even more beautiful and is a great emotional climactic deal. I didn't like Let Down at first but it's a nice simmer and a bridge. Karma Police is irresistible. Fitter Happier is NOT A FILLER TRACK give it a chance it's a well written social commentary. Electioneering is very loud but it's got energy.Read more ›
OK Computer is sort of the same, but for my money, slightly more flaccid. The songs and the arrangements are certainly easy on the ear and the textures reward repeated listening. But it's a bit *too* ironic, a bit *too* serious, a bit *too* caught up with its own importance. Thom and co. (and many others besides) wouldn't agree with me, but in my view the Rock Album is not a particularly good vessel for relaying complex socio-political messages, as it tends to tip over into self parody rather too readily. OK Computer doesn't quite do that - but it sails a tack closer to the (dire) Straits of Self-Importance than it ought, and Kid A and that other one, when they get there, promptly capsize and sink without trace.
So in my assessment, while it's pretty and moody (the track lifted from Romeo & Juliet is a cracker), it marks the point where Radiohead's famous disappearing act kicked off. Where did they go, you ask - well, when they look out these days, all they see is brown. Put it like that.
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent album! The vinyl brings out all the nuances in a wonderful way!Published 11 months ago by kgallag1
An amazing musical effort by a fantastic band. I also own the cd version. I will never tire of it.Published 22 months ago by C. LeGrow
My wife LOOOOOOVES Radiohead and this is one of the best by an amazing band.Published on July 10 2014 by Neuro
Well it's an incredible album - I think Radiohead's best - and the sound quality of this LP is really good. I wish it were on 1 LP instead of 2 though. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2013 by A. Jones