ParlophoneTwenty years ago today, the world was introduced to OK Computer.
Radiohead‘s seminal 1997 album first arrived in Japan on May 21, 1997. It would later be released in their native U.K. in June and then in the United States in July.
Coming off the band’s more rock-driven album The Bends, which in turn was the sophomore follow-up to their debut Pablo Honey, OK Computer found Radiohead experimenting with more layered electronic sounds. According to drummer Phil Selway, Radiohead’s record label deemed the group’s new direction to be “commercial suicide.”
However, OK Computer went on to cement Radiohead’s international popularity: it’s sold 4.5 million copies sold worldwide, and was certified double platinum in the U.S. It’s widely considered one of the best albums of the ’90s, and regularly ends up near the top of “Best Albums of All Time” lists.
In addition to the densely layered music, OK Computer was acclaimed for its lyrical content, which explored themes of technology, consumerism, politics and alienation in tracks like “Karma Police” and “Paranoid Android.”
OK Computer was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2015 for being a “statement and a cautionary tale for the digital age.”
Radiohead will reissue OK Computer with three previously unreleased tracks in a collection titled OKNOTOK on June 23.
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