The world in which Radiohead launched its monolith ok computer Not much like the ones we live in.
Just 19 days before the record was initially revealed in Japan, New Labor rose to power in the UK with a massive majority, after 18 years in the wilderness and successive periods of harsh Tory austerity. Amid a flurry of optimism, the upcoming party promised that things could get better. The new prime minister, Tony Blair, was once a punk band member, and pessimistic commentators and aides reassured. Meanwhile, “Girl Power” was dominating the UK pop charts, mobile phones were largely playing Snake online, and the internet was something you could access for a limited time thanks to the direct marketing genius of demo tablets from AOL. Even then, it was primitive at best.
By their already well-established standards, the five-piece Oxford stands apart from what’s been going on anywhere else. The “Brilliant Britannia” era may have engulfed a few champagne socialists, but Radiohead saw something more terrifying in its entirety.
Entering the public consciousness as a severe anxiety, songs ok computer They were anxious and distrustful of technology, politics, and the modern world. With the unknown date of the new millennium soon approaching, Thom Yorke and his colleagues were wondering where we were headed long before anyone else was. Introduce a colorful array of characters and villains, from sickening girls with Hitler’s hairstyles to other superheroes who have survived aviation disasters. As the prevailing cultural trend leans towards all things everyday and consumable, ok computer Instead, it has captured the unerring darkness, detachment, isolation, and paranoia that underpin the margins.
If they were so inclined, this would have been the time for Radiohead to take advantage of it. Although nothing quite reaches the heights of a crunchy breakout single crawling From the 1993 album, Paul HoneyThe band’s second album, bends, was a huge success and made great artistic strides forward, albeit still rooted in the meditation on guitars first. After I got the license to try, with ok computerThey were determined to do something completely different. In the process, they will become something different, too.
Capitol Records, the group’s US label, fears it is a commercial suicide, slashing its previously expected sales forecast by turning two million units to just a quarter of that. Although the most optimistic murmurs were made by the UK arm EMI, the notable lack of further creep appears to be the dominant cause for concern.
Do not worry.
It was September 4, 1995, when the seeds of all this mystery were first sown. Avant-garde legend Brian Eno invited the band to contribute a song to the charity group War Child, Help albumTo help the devastated lands of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The catch was that all participating artists had to record their shows in one day.
Hiring the services of engineer Nigel Goodrich after I worked with him black star And some aspects B of bends, the band embraced the challenge and landed the job in five hours. the resulting song, luckythat would light the way forward, eventually becoming the penultimate path ok computer. Buoyed by the excitement and ecstasy of this new experience of working with Godrich, a very lasting and fruitful partnership has been formed.
But for all the ultimate grandeur, the record has crystallized in earnest in a humble setting. Having recently concluded a US tour with giant REM, Radiohead was invited to return as guests on Alanis Morrissette, whose debut album was small coarse grain They were fast on their way to selling nearly 19 million copies worldwide in 1996. Just before the tour began, the band retreated to the Didcot countryside, set up in their training space, Canned Applause.
But as for the sound of some cows and birds in the sweet summer air, it was only the five members, the producer, and no one or anything else around for miles. Solitude would prove to be the perfect setting for the soul of the emerging songs, and in those initial sessions an additional foundation was laid for a demo record that looked anxiously at the outside world.
Days after the Alanis tour ended, the band entered St. Catherine’s Court, an Elizabethan manor house in Bath, owned by actress Jane Seymour, to resume recording. Far from the relative spit and sawdust of Didcot’s apple shed, these sessions were recorded in a ballroom, surrounded by medieval furnishings and all-wooden, to beautifully capture the sound. It was also allegedly haunted. Definitely.
“People claimed they saw what they thought was me [dead] “A mother in a big blue dress walks through the walls to go to the bathroom,” Seymour told writer Andy Green. “Obviously that was weird. We had séances. We have people who specialize in that kind of thing to walk around the house.”
The Radiohead singer personally witnessed the oddity. “The ghosts were talking to me while I slept,” York claimed. “I got really freaked out while recording vocals Music Out (for a movie). I felt like someone was standing next to me.”
Nigel Goodrich, however, has ridiculed any suggestions of supernatural events like Scooby-Doo.
As the new songs began to merge, York and artist Stanley Donwood worked to create the album’s signature blue-and-white artwork, combining digital labels of existing items, scribbles, warnings, symbols, and abstractions in both English and Esperanto, with everything looking a bit smudged, foreshadowing Dangerous, and evocative at once.
“I got the wrong idea that white is the color of death,” Donwood said in 2017. “I was an absolutely horrible character.”
Morbidity and mortality are all sewn through the lyrical record. opener airbag He revisits Tom York’s fear of the cars that survived an accident a decade ago. lead one sad Paranoid Android It deals with themes of madness and violence, mixed with some anti-capitalist sentiment. Alien homesick underground talking about Chloe
Encounters of the third type The desire to hijack, thanks to the feeling of alienation, incompatibility. These are only the first three songs. Through the record are insightful themes of mental health and a litany of societal ills, based on the idea that the modern world is rushing toward ruin. To say it’s a collection of songs ahead of its time is an understatement.
This is embodied in one of the most impressive moments, but also one of the most unconventional. employment Experienced happiestThom has taken a back seat to ‘Fred’ – the robotic voice Apple Macintosh computers used in the ’90s to turn text-to-speech – and he’s reeling in a host of mundane ways one can live a better life, including everything from healthy eating to driving. Safely and gentle on insects. The sentiment-free, synthetic delivery gives the tip a chilling quality:Like a cat, tied to a stick, driven into the squalor of freezing winter.“
Looking at what has happened in the 25 years since its launch, it is clear what a historic moment in Radiohead’s career ok computer he is. Laughing in the face of anyone who questioned their commercial appeal, the record made the band bigger than ever, as they ranked first on the UK album charts, won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, and sold nearly 7 million copies worldwide. .
In 2014, the United States National Recording Preservation Board selected the songs for a place on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, a distinction reserved for music that has a “significant cultural, historical, or aesthetic impact” on American life.
Such was the impact of the record on the wider world that it inevitably inspired many lesser lights to bring sound, soul, and vision closer together, often not failing miserably. In response, Thom Yorke got tired of guitars and joined the artists Aphex Twin and Warp Records, paving the way for a change in the face of Radiohead’s next album, kid a, in 2000. This record would once again establish a whole new chart and music board to work on. The debate over which of Oxford’s many towering five-piece recordings may be the longest could go on forever. What’s not in question is that their third album should be in the conversation, having played a pivotal role in everything that came after.
Often iterated but never matched, it’s run on ok computer That Radiohead initially became their thing. It shaped a track so successful that they’ve had the freedom to experiment and do whatever they wanted in the quarter century since. It remains a special edition, by an unrivaled band. And while it was launched into a world virtually unrecognizable today, in many ways it is all we do.