Maybe there are no alarms and no surprises that Radiohead is planning something to commemorate the 20th anniversary of OK Computer, the album that turned them from the “Creep” guys into the thinking man’s choice for world’s greatest band. But it wouldn’t be Radiohead if they didn’t use a little mystery and misdirection in the run-up to whatever it is they’re planning.
First, some posters suddenly appeared last week in major cities featuring sinister slogans that sounded like second cousins to the lyrics of the harrowing OK Computer spoken-word track “Fitter Happier.” The latest evidence showed up yesterday in the band’s Twitter feed, and this time it’s a more direct reference to a song from the album.
The new clue is a 29-second video featuring some old-school computer graphics. A childlike voice makes some ominous threats that sound like they’re taken straight from a horror-movie trailer. But astute fans will soon realize them as a chunk of lyrics from “Climbing Up The Walls.” To top it off, “OK” pops up at the end of the clip.
OK Computer was initially released on May 21, 1997, the band’s third album. Spurred on by the attention-grabbing first single and video “Paranoid Android,” it quickly grabbed the attention of alternative music fans and received nearly universal praise from critics, eventually earning the band the coveted Album of the Year nomination at the Grammys (which it lost to Bob Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind.) The quintet has released six more albums since, including last year’s acclaimed A Moon Shaped Pool.
Radiohead has made no formal announcement of their plans, and certainly these two clues aren’t serving up anything definitive. But for a band that once warned us not to get sentimental, it certainly looks like they’re ready to take some sort of fond look back at their 1997 masterpiece of an album.
Update: Radiohead Releasing OK Computer 20th Anniversary Reissue
It looks like we weren’t being paranoid androids after all. Radiohead announced today that they’ll release OKNOTOK to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of OK Computer. The main package will include the original OK Computer album, eight B-sides from the era, and, most tantalizingly, three previously unreleased tracks that were recorded in that time period. “I Promise,” “Lift” and “Man Of War” represent three songs that not even the most ardent of collectors have been able to procure to this point.
A box set with even more bells and whistles, including three vinyl albums and a hardcover book with all kinds of archival material, will also be available. All versions of OKNOTOK will be available on June 23, which is certainly OK by all those who love this album.
— Radiohead (@radiohead) May 2, 2017
OK Computer (OKNOTOK Edition) Track List
02 Paranoid Android
03 Subterranean Homesick Alien
04 Exit Music (For a Film)
05 Let Down
06 Karma Police
07 Fitter Happier
09 Climbing Up the Walls
10 No Surprises
12 The Tourist
01 I Promise
02 Man of War
05 Meeting in the Aisle
07 A Reminder
08 Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)
10 Palo Alto
11 How I Made My Millions