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Radiohead’s OK Computer released 15 years ago today

Radiohead’s OK Computer released 15 years ago today

Today marks the 15th anniversary of Radiohead’s third album OK Computer.

Released in the UK on June 16th 1997, the record soon became a classic album in music history and reached the number one position in the UK album charts. OK Computer has sold 4.5 million copies worldwide so far.

I remember buying the album on friday june 13th – albums in the Netherlands are released 3 days before the official release date – at my local record store. And yes, people actually went to record stores to get new music. I think there weren’t that many albums I played so many times, over and over again. Also in anticipation of Radiohead’s live show in Utrecht, only a week later. 15 years later, OK Computer is still one of my favourite albums of all time. Today is OK Computer Day!

When did you first hear OK Computer? Did it kick in right away? Do you still give it a spin now and then? Love to know. Please share.

39 Comments

  • Paranoid andries video on MTV I believe just before release of album. Great song great video. Knew at that moment I would be following this band my whole life.

  • I was rather over whelmed by it actually. I remember recoiling from it as I was still bathed in the glow of ‘creep’ and the bends. This speaks of the great leap forward which is OK Computer. I totally get it now seeing how it is permanently in my top 10 of all time fav albums. The perfect soundtrack to the millennial fears that permeated the cultural mood of the time.

  • heard it 8 years ago, time flies!

  • I love that album now as much as I did when I first bought it. I have to listen to it every few months at least, the more I’ve listened the more I have re- discovered different elements to it. Could quite possibly be in my top 3 albums ever, maybe even best!

  • I remember really liking the video for Paranoid Android. Falling in love with Airbag, Lucky and Let Down right away. Not a bad track on the album :)

  • being from oxford and in the local band scene, new radiohead albums were a very big deal. virgin megastore opened at midnight with local bands playing and giveaways etc. at first i was not sure (i was primarily into grunge and alt rock then and this seemes really lacking bluster after ‘the bends’) but kept it in my walkman anyway. i remember a day or two later getting really stoned at a mate’s house and walking half of oxford listening to it, completely consumed by it! i got to ‘the tourist’ as i arrived at gloucester green and was actually in tears because of thom’s amazing vocal performance and the beautiful arrangement. i then left my bag at the bus station, losing a load of my own demo tapes i had inside as i completely forgot to pick it up, so oblivious to everything around me because of this album. it opened up a lot of doors to other acts only yet ajar for me musically. it also had loads of production techniques (as did primal scream’s ‘vanishing point’ from that time) i had used on my aforementioned 4track demo tapes but in a wide screen high production value that really gave me hope and reassurance that my ideas about making music were not only valid but really worked! still today certain tracks really send shivers up my spine: climbing up the walls and the tourist being 2 of my ultimate fave radiohead songs ever! lee :-)x

  • I bought it on recommendation from my guy at the record store. Loved it from the start. Spent my first year of medical school trying to figure it all out on guitar instead of studying. That album is the soundtrack for that year of my life. Funny how that goes, isn’t it? My whole life is like that, remembered by me by what I was into at that time. That album has aged amazingly. I believe In Rainbows will age similarly.

  • I was going into 8th grade when I discovered Radiohead (1999), and immediately went on a bender of purchasing every album. I remember the exact moment I put on OK Computer for the first time: out in the backyard, blue Discman strapped to my waist, mowing the lawn. Sure, not the most ideal of settings, but I still remember the opening riff to Airbag–how it excited something in me. It’s like I knew this album would probably change how I listened to music. For the rest of the afternoon, I was listening to it over and over again, trying to pick apart every last nuance (and trying to decipher what the hell Thom was saying). It’s still one of the most vivid memories I have of my childhood, and every time I listen to the album in full, I’m taken right back to that sense of awe and excitement I felt in the late 90′s.

  • Im from Mexico, saw paranoid android video for the first time in June 1997 in what used to be a good music television channel. Immediately I felt it, this was it it was the sound hidden to the world for so many time and finally discovered by some geniouses. Immediately I told my brother come with me we have to buy this record that same day I was totally obssessed with fitter happier, reading and reading again all lyrics it was just a big discovery in my life, something that hit me right in the face telling me this is real, nothing else is as real as this it. The bends album was not so distributed in Mexico as Pablo Honey so to my there was a big jump between Pablo Honey and Ok Computer I was amazed and still I am :)

  • The day Ok computer was released was one of the best days of my life. I was in grade 11, had been eagerly anticipating its release, and had my final exam for the year on the same day. I took the test, and then rushed to get the album from the local mall. Sitting on my balcony on a warm sunny day, I put on the album start to finish. I played it over and over again that day, and for months after. In grade 12, it was pretty much the soundtrack to my life. I wrote the lyrics and doodled illustrations of them in all my notebooks, spent hour discussing and analyzing its lyrics with friends, and listened to the songs any chance I had. At a formative, it influenced so much of my thinking and perception of the world, so much so that I don’t think I would be the same person today without it. I haven’t listened to any album so fanatically since (maybe except In rainbows). But I can certainly say, no other album has been as influential for me. I don’t listen to it much now, but once in a while, when the occasion calls for it – like driving on desolate highway at night – I throw it on, and it’s still just as mesmerizing.

  • I think “Karma Police” was included on one of those NOW compilation disks in the late 90s. I was sitting in the youth room at church when I first heard it, and it was so inexplicably haunting that I set it on repeat. Later, when visiting Denver on choir tour, during which our high school choir was to sing the National Anthem for the Rockies game, I stopped by Super KMart next to the hotel and picked up a copy of OK Computer. While everyone else on the bus, enroute to Coors Field, was practicing the tired strains of our nation’s theme song, I was listening to OK Computer – completely lost in it.

  • I unfortunately only found out about Radiohead in college 2007. After watching an episode of Ergo Proxy the ending theme began as Paranoid Android. I was completely mesmerized by the music and listened after watching every episode. After a while I picked the album. Couldn’t say I loved it at first since I not only cursed by the mainstream, but none of the other songs on the album were like P.A. I found myself listening to the album a lot though. One thing led to another and Radiohead is my favorite and most respected band. I’m proud to say I own every album they have including the box version of OK Computer.

  • I was training to be a teacher that year and driving a knackered old Mini Metro. I’d copied the CD onto cassette to play in the car and it got stuck in the tape deck. I listened to nothing else whilst driving for well over 6months until I got a job and changed cars. Never got tired of it.

  • July ’97. Loved Paranoid Android. Bought the single. Loved its B-sides, Polyethylene (Pts 1 & 2) and Pearly*. Decided to buy the album. It was my very first Radiohead album. Became an obsession; my favourite of all time. The rest is history.

  • i first heard Paranoid Android on MTV in 1997 – i was 12 – and bought the album the day it came out, which in the US was July 1st, which is also my birthday, so nice timing there. I remember listening to it for the first time, from beginning to end, and just sitting there after the last little bell sound of “The Tourist” for what seemed like hours, my head still trying to wrap itself around what it just heard. Up to then, I had never heard anything that adventurous from a band that was still together and (very) active. It was mind-blowing, for lack of a better word hehe. My love for certain songs on the album has changed so much (“Let Down” was the first long-time favorite) and now I just love the work entire. I used to go to Downtown LA and watch business people walk to and fro while listening to it, since I felt the music focused on the bore of business/industry culture. It fit so perfectly. It sends my memories back to feeling incredibly inspired to create and look deeper.
    Of course, my entire Radiohead world would become flipped over yet again in 3 years, with the release of Kid A – but for those three years, I listened to barely anything but OK Computer

  • I found and I was charmed by this album and even Radiohead, sometime in 2006 and from that day every time I hear, I see more reasons to love this band, this album and everything that is created for them.

    Thom, Jonny, Ed, Colin and Phil, thanks for everything.

    I can not wait to see them live in Brazil in the near future.

  • Half of my life loving it. Because i didn’t have any money was so difficult to me to got it, i used to listened on tape… over and over and over. There’s so much of the OK Computer in me, it’s a big part of my genetic code.

  • I was 14 and in France for the first time when OK Computer came out. I was an exchange student and my host family had a CD player in my room for me. I had got the CD in London but hadn’t listened yet. I will never forget being in that tiny room in Lille, France and hearing the opening of “Airbag”. I still smile when I hear it and think of that time in my life.

  • OK Computer has always been my favourite album with Subterranian Homesick Alien my favorite track(found out today it was inspired by Miles Davis – Bitches Brew “trying to build huge spaces and watching them tumble away”).

    Every song on the album means more to me than I ever put into words and always will do, the sounds, the lyrics, the originality to some of the melody’s, its a truly beautiful album and i’ll never grow tired of hearing it. Thank you Radiohead, a great band who have made some of the greatest music i’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, keep on keeping on.

  • I initially bought ‘OK Computer’ on cassette tape; probably a couple of weeks after it was released. I was 14 at the time and that summer I was going on holiday to Rome with my family and my best friend’s family. We both had cassette Walkmans and wanted to listen to the album and other tapes during the trip. I think David, my friend, might have actually bought his copy of OK Computer at the airport before we left. Anyway, as a fourteen year old I was obviously quite angsty and fell in love with Radiohead after The Bends a couple of years before, admiring in particular Thom Yorke’s “fuck you” attitude I had seen on TV. It was also around the time that I had learnt what an atheist was at school and had stopped going to Church on Sundays. My growing cynicism of religion, mixed with hormones and general teenage animosity was reaching a apex just in time for the Rome trip and the impending visit to The Vatican – I was determined that OK Computer was going to be the soundtrack to my Vatican tour. Now, I can’t say we listened to the album throughout the trip but it was certainly on blasting in my ears for part of it. At the time this was, as far as I was concerned, one of those ‘small victories’ that you conjure up in your head as a kid. The Vatican, as you would expect, was full of tourists all pushing into each other and I recall being pleased with myself for noticing the poignancy of the track ‘Tourist’ right at that moment. In two weeks I’m actually going back to Rome for the first time since that holiday to see Radiohead play at Ippodromo delle Capannelle. For old time’s sake and to celebrate its 15th Anniversary, I will listen to OK Computer when I visit The Vatican again before the gig.

  • I am a proud supporter of the Radiohead Bourgeoisie Class of musical fandom–there is Radiohead and then there is everyone else. If Radiohead did not exist, I would think that groups like smashing pumpkins, the bravery and cold play were worth listening to. Since the many years and the many albums since OK Computer, Subterranean Homesick Alien is my favorite song from Radiohead; I just wish they played it more live. So thank you Thom, Jonny, Colin, Ed and Phil for shaping my musical conscience! Here is to 15 more years of OK Computer dominating my ipod…

  • It was six months later that I bought OK Computer, having read a few really engaging interviews with the band, and too many glowing reviews to even count. I felt like I was arriving pretty late to the party.

    The first time I listened to the CD, I quite literally was moved to pull my car to the side of the road mid-Fitter Happier, so I could collect myself and restart the CD to hear from the beginning—I hadn’t paid super close attention during the first song or two and wanted to immediate correct that.

    That album seemed to just go cachink!— snapping so perfectly into an empty spot in my head and heart I didn’t know was there. To see them perform that year and enjoy that as a collective experience was all the more amazing.

    It’s so impressive to consider how far they’ve come since then, and how much has happened in my own life and in the world along the way.

    Happy Birthday, OK Computer!

  • I remember reading about it in a French mag, which concluded at the end of a glowing review, that “this album is their Aftermath” (obsessed with the Stones). Somehow it stuck with me…

  • Estaba a punto de cumplir 13, me sentia sola en ese paso de niña a adolescente y pasaba todo el dia encerrada en mi habitacion. Un dia en la radio escuche Karma Police y dije wow! no entendia nada de ingles, pero la musica me volo la cabeza. Ahorre mis mesadas y me compre un cassette despues de mi cumple, en septiembre del 97, cuando llego a Chile y de ahi se transformo en mi compañero inseparable durante 2 años, me dormia escuchandolo, lo llevaba en mi walkman y me sirvio de refugio, de escudo frente al ataque siniestro de las boy bands de la epoca y las estellas pop y de fiel compañero en las noches de pena infinita. Mi favorita, por lejos, Lucky

  • I was 14 years old when I first see the Paranoid Android video in MTV LatinAmerica and I was completely shock about the song, it changes my life; i felt I stop feeling a boy and start feeling like a man. A week later I bought the Cd in Caracas, Venezuela.

  • A classmate was all like “Dude you gotta hear these guys, Radiohead, check out this album”. I took it home, played the CD and never gave it back. I avoided him in the hallways. This album introduced me to Radiohead, ….thanks a lot Sergio, sorry ’bout that.

  • I wish I had some sort of story about what I was doing when Ok Computer was released, but being 3 years old at the time, I didn’t really have much appreciation for music at that stage.
    It was 2 years ago, when I was 16 I was in the car with Dad on the way to school when he, in his attempts to get me into decent music, put Ok Computer on. Needless to say, my life pretty much changed from the moment Airbag broke out.

    • I am doing the same for my kids. Started off Radiohead, now onto Portishead

    • Dad sounds like a cool guy. Glad you’re onboard.

  • The first time I ever listened to OK Computer was through Paranoid Android video on MTV (1997). I remember turning the volume all the way up and rocking with my brother when the “heavy” part came. Then, it was Karma Police of course. It was 2001 when I finally got the CD, and it completely changed the way I used to think about music. I´d never get tired of listening to him. It´s still one of my favorite albums ever. Let Down and Climbing Up The Walls are probably the ones I like the most at the moment.

  • Remember the day fairly well!

    I was 17 and left school at lunch to buy the album. Was the first radiohead album I bought on the day of release. I got the bends towards the end of 1995. As with all radiohead albums I was initially underwhelmed. I wanted instant gratification like I had when I put the bends on that I’d been listening to for nearly 2 years.

    Of course this didn’t last long and I loved the album very quickly. Then Radiohead played my home town of Doncaster when their album had been number 1! Couldn’t believe they played there! What a great year (apart from Dianna dying).

  • I already knew a couple of songs (Paranoid Android, Karma Police), but the first time I listened to the new album it was a few days after my 16th birthday, in october 2003. Throughout the whole year I got more and more into Radiohead and for my 16th birthday I asked my parents, family and friends to receive the complete album discography. I remember listening to the full album for the first time inside the car with my father. The first impact was strange. I liked it immediately but it required a couple more listenings to get it. Back then I also didn’t like Climbing Up the Walls… what a fool! One of my Radiohead’s favourite now. OK Computer is my favourite album on par with Amnesiac. Of course I still give it a play, quite often. Such a masterpiece.

  • Coming from the Bends, Ok Computer sounded too jarring and alien to me at first. After a couple of weeks though I came to realise its brilliance – now by far my favourite album. Every track a stunner. The lyrics and themes, melodies, the dense instrumentation and perfect production techniques, Even after hundreds of listens, there are still new subtleties I pick up. Let Down is the most beautiful song I’ve heard. One to throw on when you’re driving alone at night on a desolate road.

  • I got it a couple of weeks early, found it on Japanese import or something. This was great, as I was seeing them live at Glastonbury 1997 for the first time a couple of weeks later. I was a typical obsessive teenager and didnt listen to anything else for literally 6 months :) I still think the jumps between pablo honey to the bends, and from this to Ok computer arepretty much unparalleled in rock! Spent months absorbing everything, the basslines in Airbag, all the bits to Android, and Lucky is probably still the best thing they’ve ever written. I personally think that, Kid A possibly aside, KOL represents the most significant rebirth of RH since then. But I seem to be in the minority on this…

  • Wonderful, ecstatic celebration of five (six w/ Nigel) geniuses laying the wood to the common man and the drivel that permeated our airwaves in ’97. Will always remain one of my favorite pieces of music. Listening to it the other night on a 45-minute ride home made me try to rank my fave ‘Head albums. Impossible. Try to rank your children-you’ll get nowhere. The albums rotate in and out based on my moods, my struggles, my life. Bends, OK, Rainbows, Kid, Limbs…Every record’s a journey. They’ve all been soundtracks for me. In Rainbows was non-stop when I first met my 2nd wife. The Bends when I married my 1st. “Limbs” now that I’m older with my 5th child. The happiest that this music makes me is when I can share it…when others ask “who is this?”. I feel proud! I feel like saying “see? you’ll now feel the light!!” Best band ever. Hands down.

  • The first time I ‘got’ OK Computer was during a early evening midsummer thunder storm, it perfectly soundtracked the lightning and thunderclaps and as ‘The Tourist’ brought the album to a close, the moon shone through the window for the first time. Sounds corny, but the album made sense at that moment in time.

  • http://qyd.k.af

  • My first time with OKC was on tape. It didn’t go too well b/c the new tape I purchased was spoiled. My friend and I went to the mall to return it for the CD version and my parents weren’t happy that I did that. OKC is what lead me to collect the rest of the albums over the summer. I still listen to OKC and think “Wow! You are reason that got me obsessed with them, huh?”

  • I am too late for anyone to read this, but I bought it on the day it came out. During my school lunchtime I was 17 and went to HMV (I think) to get the record. My lasting memory is walking down the street with the record feeling excited about what I’d bought. I lived in Doncaster, and I felt I was the only one who bought this record as I didn’t really know many people that didn’t like shit music.

    I’d listened to the bends and pablo for a couple of years (Fake Plastic Trees started my obsession). Paranoid Android I had on single and I found that song too much to take when I first played it, but of course after repeated listens I loved it. Same feelings I had with the album and I felt the bends had the better songs initially. I maintained FOR YEARS that the bends was the better album… I guess as I grew older I found OK computer said more to me. I guess I was a bit too young to understand the themes of OK Computer fully. Don’t get me wrong I have ALWAYS adored OK Computer but Planet Telex, The Bends, Fake Plastic Trees, Just, My Iron Lung and Street Sprit meant so much tio me in my younger days. They still do, but Airbag, Pazza Azza, Exit Music, Let Down, Karma Police, Climbing up the walls, No surprises and lucky are sublime. I still adore both albums and they remind me very much of being 15-18 when music is your life and finding these albums means the world to you. Fake Plastic Trees still breaks my heart after 17 years of listening to it though.

    I adore 90′s radiohead, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I adore the rest too as well though! ;)

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