On this day in 1997, Radiohead released its third studio album, OK Computer in the UK. (It was released July 1 in the US.)
OK Computer saw the band moving into more experimental territory, with its melancholic lyrics, dense, atmospheric moods, and broken-textured, distorted drums, buoyed by Phil Selway.
In his book on the topic, music journalist Tim Footman described the “key paradox” of the album as such:
“The musicians and producer are delighting in the sonic possibilities of modern technology; the singer, meanwhile, is railing against its social, moral, and psychological impact. … It’s a contradiction mirrored in the culture clash of the music, with the ‘real’ guitars negotiating an uneasy stand-off with the hacked-up, processed drums.”
Despite being cast by label EMI as uncommercial and difficult, OK Computer reached number one on the UK charts and debuted at number 21 on the Billboard 200.
In 2017, Radiohead released a remastered version of the album with additional tracks titled, OKNOTOK 1997 2017.
And just a few weeks ago, a scandal erupted when almost 18 hours of material from the OK Computer sessions leaked online, including demos, alternate takes, and live recordings.
Enjoy the complex, slurry, sonic inventiveness of OK Computer with the following songs, (including “Subterranean Homesick Alien” above) plus one from OKNOTOK 1997 2017.
Live in Glastonbury, 2003.