RADIOHEAD – ” O.K Computer ” OKNOTOK The Extras

Posted: June 3, 2017 in MUSIC
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Photo credit: Danny Clinch

When Radiohead releases OK Computer: OKNOTOK, an expanded edition of their groundbreaking 1997 album O.K Computer in June, fans will finally hear three tracks that have long say in the band’s vaults and brains.

Though previously unreleased, the three tracks, “Lift,” “I Promise” and  “Man Of War” won’t be completely unfamiliar to fans. “Lift” has had a regular spot in 1996 set lists , when it became a fan favorite, and was resurrected on tour in 2002. Radiohead started tinkering with it again in 2014, while they began work on 2016’s “A Moon Shaped Pool” .

According to fan site Green Plastic frontman Thom Yorke said he wasn’t happy with their live performances of “Lift” in the ‘90s, and even recorded a few versions during their sessions for OK Computer but never released it. Yorke wanted to air it out before the band began dissecting it. They toyed with putting versions it on Kid A in 2000 and “Amnesiac” in 2001, but it never came to fruition.

“We haven’t lost the song. We played it too much in a certain way that didn’t work in my opinion,” he said. “It didn’t feel right. So we need to approach it in a different way but at the time of OK Computer it was impossible to get into rearranging it because everyone had fixed ideas on what to play and we’d all just got into a habit we couldn’t break, like staring too long at strangers, know what I mean?”

Although guitarist Ed O’Brien called the song “a bogs—e B-side and we were very happy to leave it off the album,”  Radiohead unveiled a slower, more lyrically polished version of “Lift” in Lisbon, Portugal, and at a few other shows in 2002. The update also notably removes mention of Thom, the person being saved from a stuck elevator.

As recently as 2015, while confirming that the band had been working on the tune again, guitarist Jonny Greenwood told the Dutch website 3voor12 that such resurrections are common practice for Radiohead albums.

“What people don’t know is that there’s a very old song on each album, like ‘Nude’ on In Rainbows. We never found the right arrangement for that, until then. ‘Lift’ is just like that. When the idea is right, it stays right. It doesn’t really matter in which form.”

Like “Lift” and “Man Of War” both of which will also be included on the reissue of Radiohead’s  O.K Computer OKNOTOK  a reissue marking the 20th anniversary of O.K Computer, “I Promise,” which you can listen to above, was a regular on the set lists of the ’90s.

In particular, the song was played on tour in 1996, but never to return to performances or see an official release, though it has long been circulated by fans on bootlegs. Despite a large swath of unreleased Radiohead songs, all three were among those most widely topping fan’s wish lists.

“I Promise,” however, is more personal than the other two songs that are getting their first official airing, as well as the bulk of 1997’s OK Computer. Where the rest of the coming two-disc collection revolves around more abstract ideas like technology, globalization and aliens, “I Promise” seems like it might follow a couple’s argument, with the narrator’s pledge to do better.

Several fan favorites will be among the three previously unreleased tracks that will grace Radiohead’s 20th anniversary reissue O.K Computer OKNOTOK iincluding “Man of War,” .

Marking the anniversary of their groundbreaking 1997 album OK Computer, the two-disc set will also include “I Promise” and “Lift.” All three tracks, though never officially released, were setlist mainstays in the ’90s, and have floated around on bootlegs for years. The song was written around the time the band released their second album, “The Bends” , in 1995. It has alternately been called “Big Boots” or “Man o’ War.”

According to the fan site, Green Plastic, the band tried to record it several times, including for The Avengers soundtrack, but were never satisfied with the results. They were seen working on it in their 1998 documentary, Meeting People Is Easy, but it had been left in the vaults because, as frontman Thom Yorke told MTV’s 120 Minutes, they “couldn’t find a proper way into it.”

“We ditched it because we were so messed up and we went in, tried to do the track, but we just couldn’t do it. It was actually a really difficult period of time,” Yorke said. “We had a five-week break and all the s— was coming to the surface. It was all a bit weird – I mean we went in and tried to do this old track that we had and it just wasn’t happening at all. It was a real low point after it.”

After a week of fans speculating on what would an anniversary edition might include, many of them wonder when they’ll hear the updated versions of these previously unreleased tracks, like “I Promise,” live. Radiohead will begin the European leg of its 2017 tour on June 7th.

XL Recordings

You can pre-order OK Computer: OKNOTOK, which will be released on June 23rd, on Radiohead’s website.

 

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