After teasing us with a series of cryptic posters around the world and releasing an equally-cryptic video yesterday, Radiohead have announced a 20th anniversary reissue of their landmark album OK Computer called OKNOTOKCOMPUTER, featuring b-sides and three unreleased tracks that fans have been salivating over for two decades. But more importantly: I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE RADIOHEAD CONSPIRACY THEORY. NOTHING CAN TAKE AWAY THE EXQUISITE PLEASURE OF SWEET VINDICATION.
RUMOR HAS IT Radiohead will announce 'OK Computer' 20th anniv reissue/celebration/~something~ as soon as tmrw... @simonwilliam
— Ben Yakas (@yenbakas) May 1, 2017
Okay, back to Radiohead! The big news is the three unreleased tracks that any Radiohead fan worth their weight in Thom Yorke ponytails is likely already obsessed with: "Lift," "I Promise" and "Man Of War" (a.k.a. "Big Boots"). All three were played at various times around the OKC period and became fan-favorites. Johnny Greenwood let slip last year that the band was working on "Lift" as well in an interview: "It’s a “management-favorite.” 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."
"Lift," in particular, always seemed like a shoe-in for late '90s rock radio. It was the hit that got away:
The band attempted to record "Man Of War" for The Avengers soundtrack (not the Marvel characters, the Sean Connery/Ralph Fiennes /Uma Thurman film adaptation of the British television series no one remembers for a very good reason—it's really bad), and clips of those tortured sessions appeared in the documentary, Meeting People Is Easy.
And "I Promise" had a bit of an R.E.M. vibe:
It's a tiny bit disappointing that we aren't getting any of the other legendary songs which were recorded/attempted during the OKC sessions (that includes "Follow Me Around," and the original versions of "Last Flowers," "Nude," "True Love Waits" and possibly "The National Anthem" and "Knives Out"), but the three being released were definitely the cream of the crop. In addition to those tracks, OKNOTOKCOMPUTER comes with a remastered version of the original 12-track album plus the 8 released b-sides.
The digital version is out June 23rd, and physical editions will ship in July. For superfans, there is also an OKNOTOK BOXED EDITION which will ship July:
Featuring a black box emblazoned with a dark image of a burned copy of OK COMPUTER containing three heavyweight 180 gram black 12" vinyl records and a hardcover book containing more than thirty artworks (many of which have never been seen before) and full lyrics to all the tracks (except the ones that haven’t really got any lyrics). Under this weighty tome are yet more surprises: a notebook containing 104 pages from Thom Yorke’s library of scrawled notes of the time, a sketchbook containing 48 pages of Donwood and Tchock’s ‘preparatory work’ and a C90 cassette mix tape compiled by the band, taken from OK COMPUTER session archives and demo tapes.
The reissue was teased in recent weeks with a series of mysterious posters which showed up in Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Brooklyn and more, all featuring the dates "1997 - 2017" (OK Computer was released on May 21st, 1997). Fans on Reddit found a piece of OK-era concept artwork (compiled online almost five years ago) with a similar picture. The locations of the posters all seemed to correlate with the offices of Beggars Group, of which XL, Radiohead's label, is a part of. And the band's longtime producer, Nigel Godrich, tweeted a photo of his OK-era recording notebook last month.
You can pre-order the reissue here.
And I will leave this here (h/t nicemarmot):