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Radiohead - OK Computer CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.05 | 989 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Time to weigh in. Is it prog? RADIOHEAD themselves would likely say no, as would a huge segment of the prog fans out there. It's not the first time the band has suffered from a number of pigeonhole attempts (Billy Corgan especially could get very snide about their originality, although the SMASHING PUMPKINS are probably in no danger of appearing here). Iin my opinion "OK Computer" is a landmark album, prog or not, that keeps the embattled idea of a guitar-driven rock band fresh and dynamic.

To be honest, I don't even like every song; the widespread attraction of "Karma Police" has always eluded me, and I find "Climbing Up the Walls" and "Lucky" to drag on a little too long in exactly the wrong place on the album. However, the high points on this album are more than enough to place it in the top tier of my collection. "Paranoid Android" redeems an entire decade of lackluster rock music (though I can never quite get used to the extreme wah sound, and I wish the heavier sections lasted a little longer) and "Subterranean Homesick Alien" is both lushly atmospheric and hard- a way that must have made Steve Wilson wet his pants. "Exit Music" is almost unendurably cathartic (yes, that's a Mellotron, and no, I don't care one bit about the film) and "Airbag" is a great opener and proves that real drums and 'Drum N Bass'-style cut-and-paste production can work comfortably together.

I could go on and on; "Fitter Happier" is eerie and thought-provoking (or should be, for anyone unafraid to reflect on our bourgeois attitudes) and "Electioneering" is a Gotterdamerung rock song that crashes and wails like a post-punk "Gimme Shelter". Both "Let Down" and "No Surprises" take a pleasing pop rock basis and infuse it with odd sonic corners and intriguingly bent but heartfelt lyrics. "The Tourist" is a mostly fitting finale to the album, but strangely I miss a sense of closure- especially after the hit-and-miss construction of the second side (or second half, anyway).

So there we are. A classic rock album that is unarguably modern. An extremely progressive rock album that's probably not 'Progressive Rock' (so at best I can only give it 3 stars in this venue). Some of its parts are much better than others, but the sum of its parts is better still. Does it belong here? Dunno, but it belongs in the collection of anyone at all interested in how much life there is yet in rock music.

James Lee | 3/5 |


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