Guitarist Ed O’Brien: Radiohead left “Lift” off “OK Computer” because it would have made the band too popular

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty ImagesOne of the Radiohead tracks finally seeing the light of day on OKNOTOK, the OK Computer 20th anniversary package, is a studio version one-time live favorite “Lift.”

So why did the band leave the track off the original album? Guitarist Ed O’Brien tells BBC Radio 6 Music, that basically it’s because they thought the song would have made them too popular.

O’Brien recalled playing the song when the band was on the road opening for Alanis Morrissette.  “The audience…suddenly you’d see them get up and start grooving. It had this infectiousness. It was a big anthemic song,” he recalls.  The band was worried that the song would have been a massive hit.

“If that song had been on that album, it would’ve taken us to a different place, and probably we’d have sold a lot more records, if we’d done it right. And everyone was saying this, and we kind of subconsciously killed it,” he says. “If OK Computer had been like a Jagged Little Pill, it would’ve killed us. But ‘Lift’ probably had the potential…it just had this magic about it.” 

Jagged Little Pill, of course, has sold more than 33 million copies worldwide and is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

As a result, the band sort of seized up in the studio when they were recording it. “We didn’t do a good version, because when we got to the studio and did it, it felt like having a gun to your head,” O’Brien explained.  But he said, in the end, “I’ve got a monitor mix, and it is pretty good.”

OKNOTOK will arrive as a two-CD set, three-LP collection and digitally on June 23.It features OK Computer‘s original 12 tracks, eight B-sides, and three previously unreleased tracks, including “Lift.”

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