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30 Best Loved Albums - Ok Computer

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List.

Although I have stated that I’m not going to rank or place in order my favorite 30 albums, there is somewhat of a method to my madness. The first five albums were near and dear to me, some may not necessarily be an all-time favorite, but instead are albums about which that I had a lot to say. Albums 6-10 included artists with long and critically acclaimed careers with many, many different albums from which to choose. Albums 11-15 were more related to “roots? music: folk, country, americana, etc. Albums 16-20 favored punk and alternative. Now that we’re two-thirds through, I thought we needed to look at my favorite “headphone? albums – those trippy albums that are best heard on headphones or after you’ve been snacking on your cousin Ernie’s homemade brownies. So sit back, tune in, and let the music take over your mind as we continue with number 21 of my best loved 30 albums.

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21. Radiohead – Ok Computer (1997)

What can be said about this album that hasn’t already been said? “Top album of the 1990’s,? “Best Album of the last 20 years,? over 2000 user reviews at Amazon.com (a vast majority of them with 5 stars). Heck it even merits a ranking on the “Definitive 200!!? Ok Computer was a huge shock from a band that had a couple of cool songs on a two middling albums during the early to mid-1990’s. This album propelled Radiohead into mega-stardom with each one of their subsequent albums creating a buzz over “what’s Radiohead going to do next??

Although Thom Yorke and the boys maintain that Ok Computer is not a concept album, there are definite themes running throughout. Is the album about a dystopian future of mankind being ruled by machines and computers? Is it a modern take on man’s disconnection with humanity in the computer age? Is it just a bunch of great songs that combine straight ahead rock licks and electronica doodads and gizmos with esoteric, dreamy lyrics? Well I definitely come down on the latter and could be convinced of the former two. What really gets me going with Ok Computer is the songs. There’s not a weak song in the bunch (o.k. I don’t consider Fitter Happier a song) and I just love how the rock guitars are augmented by all the electronics. Furthermore Radiohead obsessed over the sequence of the songs on the album and it really shows. It’s hard to imagine these songs in any other order with each song recognizing the song previous while also setting the table for the following song.

With each song a great song, it’s hard to pick out favorites. Paranoid Android (The band played an 11 minute version of this song when opening for Alanis Morrisette in 1996 – man what a trip!) is an obvious with it’s awesome guitar pieces that would put most rockers to shame while Subterranean Homesick Alien is an atmospheric, dreamy song about someone who is abducted by aliens but when he tells his friends, they don’t believe him. Is the alien real or is the singer referring to himself alienated from society? It’s up to you. Let Down is one my all time favorite songs as it captures perfectly the feeling of the disappointment felt when let down by a loved one, friend or just an acquaintance. The chorus says it all: Let down and hanging around, crushed like a bug in the ground. Let down and hanging around.

The album ends with the weary song The Tourist and it’s plaintive wail of “hey man slow down, slow down? accompanied by a nasty little guitar riff. The song sounds like it should be the final track and the album ends fittingly enough with a single note chime (once described as the bell on a microwave). A perfect end to a nearly perfect album. An album that deserves all it accolades and high rankings and album that has given me hours of listening pleasure over the last 10 years, Ok Computer deserves an exulted place on my list of 30 best loved albums.

What do you think of Ok Computer?

Place on the Definitive 200: Criminally it is only ranked 111!


Comments

Subterranean Homesick Alien. Easily the best song on the album. Very atmospheric. And actually, if you look closer the song is about aliens looking down at us and seeing us as a little too uptight. The narrator wishes he could be abducted so that he could find the the "meaning of life" and share it with his friends, but concludes they'd probably lock him up anyway. The song comes from a country walk by Thom Yorke in which he thought, "I bet aliens think we are a pretty strange race of life."

Anyway, OK Computer is awesome. No doubt about it. Let Down is also one of my favorites. I can't figure out why radio stations are so obsessed with Karma Police when they could play SHA or Let Down.

I agree about Karma Police. It is a decent song but there are a number of other songs on Ok Computer that are "radio-friendly" and are much better.

Now Shane, if I could only get you to like Kid A or Amnesiac!

No way. Kid A is painful to listen to. Hail to the Thief was a step in the right direction, but no OK Computer.

The old Kid A Sucks/Is Brilliant debate....

I agree Kid A was -- to be charitable -- a "Letdown" after Ok Computer but time was been kind to Kid A. At least now it is listenable and can stand on its own rather than be compared to OK Computer. Amnesiac, which the band quickly released after the bad reaction to Kid A is imho one of those unacknowleged classics.

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