Welcome to the latest edition of ‘Golden Vault’, where we delve into the annals of music to bring you a classic album. You’ll know some like the back of your hand and nothing of others. We hope to get you reacquainted with old friends and create new favourites. The album to be taken out of the Golden Vault for reappraisal this week is ‘Ok Computer’ by Abingdon’s finest sons Radiohead.
Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ is a classic album if ever there was one. Constantly topping ‘best album ever’ lists, this album elevated the band to superstar level in an era where the upbeat bounce of Britpop ruled the airwaves. The album spawned three top 10 singles, and has been heavily lauded by critics and fans alike.
So what made this album so very special? Basically because it was packed with excellent tunes from start to finish. Just look at the fabulous beast of a track that is Paranoid Android, a moody Bohemian Rhapsody for nerds if you like. At over six minutes long, the track chopped and changed constantly, with every section as good as the last, guitar solos squealing left, right and centre and Yorke’s croon resonating throughout the song. There’s the eerie ballad Exit Music (For A Film), where an acoustic guitar has never sounded so chilling, and no matter how much you listen to this song, Yorke’s vocals will give you goosebumps every time. Finally the song reaches a sudden and fantastic climax with Yorke screaming emphatically for all he’s worth.
Then you have the piano-driven Karma Police, with amazing lines like “arrest this girl her Hitler hairdo is making me feel ill.” The chorus “this is what you get, when you mess with us” makes you grit your teeth, clench your fist and make you want to ‘stick it to the man’ as it were, before the ambiguous outro “for a minute there, I lost myself” allows you to interpret the lyrics however you like, either as a release from conformity, or as an unsuspecting return. Ultimately, a song has never been this hopelessly empowering before. No Surprises features that infinitely delicate riff and an impossibly emotional vocal performance by Yorke. The gloriously ecstatic Lucky, a slightly underrated track in comparison to the other singles, is still a behemoth of a tune, with an irresistible guitar solo that guides the song to its conclusion.
A true sign of a great LP, the album tracks are just as good as the well-known singles, with the powerful chorus of Let Down worthy of significant praise, along with the guitar insanity of Electioneering, and the genuine insanity of Climbing Up The Walls, and of course the coarse bluntness of The Tourist (“Idiot, slow down.”)
‘OK Computer’ remains one of the finest albums of all time, a masterclass in songwriting, musicianship, and in lyric writing. The album featured hints of the electronic direction the band would pursue in later years, and despite several exceptional albums in the intervening years, ‘OK Computer’ is Radiohead’s greatest moment, and will forever be held in high-esteem.
Radiohead – OK Computer
Did you enjoy this weeks edition of Golden Vault? Get involved, comment below and join us next week in the Golden Vault where we’ll be discussing ‘Astral Weeks’ by Van Morrison.