OK Computer (2009 Collector's Edition)
REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/06/2009
In a last-ditch effort to rake profits in the name of Radiohead, EMI’s attempt to come out with a “Best Of” compilation coinciding with the release of In Rainbows, and then to resurrect the band’s first three records as double-disc “collector’s” editions, if anything, reeks of desperation. But, in the case of OK Computer, this move is nothing short of a blessing for fans.
The bulk of the bonus disc contains tracks from the EP Airbag/How Am I Driving and B-sides from the three singles that resulted from OK Computer – “Paranoid Android,” “Karma Police” and “No Surprises.”
Without tossing in alternate versions of tracks from OK Computer or worthless outtakes and demos, this inclusion of a whole bunch of new songs unknown to most folks has made the second disc an album on its own rather than a supplementary disc of random mishmash.
The new songs have the same sort of experimental zealousness of the disc they were derived from, but contrary to what one might expect – these being “rejects” after all – they aren’t too radical to be tossed out into the trash-pail. This disc plays the same role as Amnesiac did to Kid A.
Tracks like “Polyethylene (Parts 1 & 2)” and “Pearly” have the similar arena-rock grandeur of “Airbag” or “Paranoid Android,” whereas the slower numbers “A Reminder” and “Lull” are sparser and more sincere like “No Surprises.”
Although the band had no clue during OK Computer as to what the follow-up would sound like, one can clearly see the beginnings of Kid A in “Melatonin” and “Meeting In The Aisle.” The creepy synthesizer sound of the former has an air of Kraftwerk-esque minimalism, and the latter, which is an instrumental, finds the band experimenting with trippy electronic beats.
The two remixes of “Climbing Up The Walls” are the choice cuts on this album. Both the Zero 7 and the Fila Brizillia mixes completely embrace the song wholeheartedly in their narrowly divided worlds – downtempo techno in the case of Zero 7 and ambient breakbeat in the case of Fila Brizillia. Still, each of these makeovers sounds nothing like the original or like each other.
Although OK Computer still leaks into the bonus disc – live versions of “Airbag” and “Lucky” and BBC sessions of “Climbing Up The Walls,” “Exit Music (For A Film)” and “No Surprises,” none of these is mixed with the rest of the album. And even though extra music always sweetens the deal, these ones can be overlooked without so much as an ounce of guilt or shame.
This move by EMI might be greedy, but as perverse as it sounds, it deserves a vote of appreciation from Radiohead fans.