Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, recently reflected on Radiohead’s magnum opus 20 years after it originally hit shelves. The album “OK Computer” is seen as a masterpiece today because it blends electronic music, elements of Miles Davis’ psychedelic period, and the melancholic acoustic guitar strums that the band has always been known for.
A rare interview with the BBC reveals how the band got started and how the album came together. So, what’s prompting Thom Yorke to quietly reflect on an album that saw its release 20 years ago when Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were two dominant players on the political scene.
Radiohead is planning on reissuing “OK Computer” in a new album, of sorts, called, “OKNOTOK.” The upcoming reissue is slated to contain a number of b-sides and insights into the musings on Thom and the band at the time. Every reissue will come with selections from Thom’s notebooks and a behind-the-scenes look at the songwriting process that went into every song.
The new reissue will feature remastered cuts of all of the original songs plus three previously unheard tracks. Fans can expect eight b-sides when the digital version of the reissue drops at the end of the month (June 23rd).
The reissue, which will come to consumers in a black box, will feature over 100 pages of Thom’s notebook musings from the period of “OK Computer” as well as four dozen pages of artist and producer Stanley Donwood’s sketches. Artwork from the period has recently been uploaded to Radiohead’s core website for fans to check out.
Reflecting on the album in the BBC interview, Yorke recounts his inspirations at the time, which included glam rock band Queen, the improvisational jazz of Miles Davis, and a touch of heavy metal to sweeten the whole deal. The album originally featured over three dozen takes of the song’s bohemian rhapsody-like saga, Paranoid Android. Fans can expect the reissue to drop on June 23rd.
Radiohead’s new video, “I Promise”, resounds with haunting beauty. “I Promise” is an official release of an old track only performed at concerts and on B-sides of their records. The song conveys a different side to Radiohead, one that seems to be like a swan-song to their concluding tour of A Moon Shaped Pool.
Radiohead’s upcoming album is a reissue of OK Computer called OKNOTOK. The music video has timeless Radiohead-esque tales of detachment, technological advancement and human detachment. A bus drives on with passengers soullessly peering out of its windows with blank, empty stares. Revealed to be an animatronic shell, the video hints at what it means to be detached from the hustle and bustle of life and all its humdrum and harrowing experiences.
As the robot tries to fall asleep, he is reminded of lost memories of a woman crying. The robot begins to cry and have an emotionally cathartic release, before the video sweeps into a quietly haunting conclusion.
The video’s director, Mark Pritchard, also directed a music video featuring a single by Thom Yorke called Beautiful People. This music video has similar themes of androids coupled with humanity: Thom Yorke wandering an alien planet through a robotic face-lens.
Thom Yorke said his album OK Computer had inspiration from his lack of connection with other humans while touring for The Bends. He said that he felt paranoid and disconnected from everyone, and that writing was his way of reconnecting to other human beings.
Radiohead is finishing up their last part of A Moon Shaped Pool tour in July. Always in transit, Thom Yorke used these feelings of alienation and disconnection to create new, beautiful soundscapes and lyrics. Their re-release of OK Computer includes a special boxed edition. Included in this special edition are three black 12” vinyl records, a hardcover book featuring artwork, and full transcriptions to the lyrics. Thom Yorke’s personal library of handwritten notes and a sketchbook with a cassette tape mix are also included.