It seems that there are so many standout bands and artists with records turning 20 this year. 1997 was the year Notorious BIG released Life After Death. Foo Fighters saw an unprecedented success with The Colour and the Shape, with their mega-hit “Everlong” still one of the most played songs on radio today. Then there is Radiohead. Radiohead is one of those bands that was hugely successful during a time when music was more celebrated for its art, while being mainstream. For many, their album OK Computer was one of the most memorable of their career.
Yesterday, the supreme sorcerers of cryptic marketing tweeted a message announcing the release. The band’s website has returned to the state it was in when OK Computer was released. The homepage is bare white, except for the words, “This is the Radiohead website [from about 1997].” It is a pretty cool throwback replete with clickable elements that take the visitor down a rabbithole of images and phrases like, "More private security, less political participation, worse politicians, more fear." Fans will be excited about what they will see at the end of the Wonka-esque tunnel of imagery, which the site calls the "discarded ephemera from the broken hard drives of Donwood & Tchock." Stanley Donwood and Dr. Tchock are the artists who are largely responsible for Radiohead's artwork.
There are four variants of OK Computer that fans can get their hands on, starting on June 23, with the Boxed Edition shipping out in July. The boxed set contains three 180 gram black vinyl 12" records, a hardcover book containing over 30 original works of art from OK Computer, with never before seen art and lyrics to all of the songs. Also included in the set is a notebook that contains "104 pages from Thom Yorke's library of scrawled notes of the time, a sketchbook containing 48 pages of Donwood and Tchock's 'preparatory work' and a cassette tape with demos and recordings from the OK Computer sessions. A digital version will also ship with the set with the original twelve track album, three unreleased tracks and eight B-sides, "all newly remastered from the original analogue tapes" in MP3 or WAV format. The set is priced at $130 USD. The remaining three variants are Vinyl (The set of three as described above, minus the extras: $30 USD), Compact Disc (Two-disc set: $13 USD), and Digital format (available to download on June 23).
OK Computer is the home to huge hits like "Paranoid Android" and "Karma Police," the haunting and somber number "Exit Music (For a Film)," and the band's final single from the album, "No Surprises," an homage to the everyday working class. The video for "Paranoid Android" was created and directed by Swedish animator Magnus Carlsson and was perfectly suited for the three movements contained within.
Cuts from OK Computer have been covered by numerous artists over the years. Most recently, "Exit Music (For a Film)" and "No Surprises" were reimagined by reknowned music composer Ramin Djawadi. While known for his original work on juggernauts like Game of Thrones and Prison Break, it is within the wild strange land of Westworld that these songs reside. The version of "Exit Music (For a Film)" set the tone for the final scene in the season one finale of the HBO series and is an absolutely heartwrenching and beautiful rendition. During the build to the climax of the song, one can hear shades of the show's main title theme.
We celebrate the success of Radiohead and the remastered reissue of OK Computer, due on June 23. Some of the themes within the lyrics still ring true today, sadly; but we will enjoy also looking back and reflecting on progress that we've made. New meaning will be found in this timeless record and old memories will rise to the surface.
"For a minute there, I lost myself. I lost myself."