Graham Reid | | 1 min read
On reflection it is hard to believe that on just their second album (The Bends) that a band could make such a daring, sideways career move -- and then to confirm their direction by the even more innnovative and impressive OK Computer.
On its release many hailed it as their Dark Side of the Moon, meaning it was an album of depth and resonance as much as musical invention. It was certainly closer to the ambition of Pink Floyd than any of the Britpop bands who were their contemporaries.
As expected, the album has held up well, and for many has in fact grown in stature because of its layered nature (musical and lyrical). In interviews their reference points were also Miles Davis' Bitches Brew (n the manner of constructing tracks in the studio) as well as classical composer Penderecki, DJ Shadow and the Beach Boys.
None of those are direct and necessarily audible influences, but the approach those artists took at particular periods in their careers is from what Radiohead drew.
OK Computer remains Radiohead's most important musical statement -- but also, unlike U2 who retreated to type after Pop Mart, Radiohead never looked back and their career since has consistently delivered challenging music.
There has, of course, been the elaborate two-CD and DVD reissue box set, but sometimes all you need is the actual album as it was on release.
In that regard, seeing it at JB Hi-FI stores (here) for $13 makes this not just a Bargain Buy, but cheap enough to pick up one for that 14-year old just growing out of vacuous radio pop and starting to get a little sullen.
This could be their soundtrack for a few years to come . . . and a door into a very different kind of music.