Tuesday, June 16, 2009

12 Years Ago Today: Radiohead releases "OK Computer"...

OK Computer is the third album by the English rock band Radiohead, released on June 16th, 1997. Radiohead recorded the album in rural Oxfordshire and Bath, during 1996 and early 1997, with producer Nigel Godrich. Although most of the music is dominated by guitar, OK Computer's expansive sound and wide range of influences set it apart from many of the Britpop and alternative rock bands popular at the time, and it laid the groundwork for Radiohead's later, more experimental work. Radiohead do not consider OK Computer a concept album; however, its lyrics and visual artwork emphasise common themes such as consumerism, social disconnection, political stagnation, and modern malaise.

OK Computer reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and marked Radiohead's highest entry into the American market at the time, debuting at number 21 on the Billboard 200. The album expanded the band's worldwide popularity, and has been certified triple platinum in the UK, double platinum in the US. OK Computer received considerable acclaim at the time of its release, and has been listed by music critics and listener polls as one of the greatest albums ever recorded.


After the success of Radiohead's second album, The Bends (1995), the band decided to produce their third album themselves, although a number of producers, including Scott Litt, were offered a position to work on the album. They were encouraged by recording sessions with engineer Nigel Godrich, who had assisted John Leckie in producing The Bends and had produced several Radiohead B-sides. Bassist Colin Greenwood said "the only concept that we had for this album was that we wanted to record it away from the city and that we wanted to record it ourselves." The band prepared for the recording sessions by buying their own recording equipment, though they consulted Godrich for advice on what to acquire. Godrich eventually outgrew this role and became co-producer on the album.

After the stressful tour in support of The Bends, the band took a break in January 1996 and expressed a desire to change their musical and lyrical style from that of their previous album. Drummer Phil Selway said that "The Bends was an introspective album… There was an awful lot of soul searching. To do that again on another album would be excruciatingly boring." Singer Thom Yorke said "The big thing for me is that we could really fall back on just doing another miserable, morbid and negative record lyrically, but I don't really want to, at all."

Suggested viewing:

Radiohead - Karma Police

Radiohead No Surprises

Suggested listening:

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