Where Does The Time Go: Radiohead's 'OK Computer' Turns 20 Next Month!


Like millions of others, the first time I heard "Creep" on Chicago modern rock powerhouse Q101, I thought I was hearing the next Nirvana. Either that or I was witnessing the birth of yet another band hamstrung by a momentary flash of dumb youthful brilliance that they could never top.

While everybody claims to love The Bends now, at the time of its release in 1995, Capitol did everything but give the darn thing away in hopes of getting folks to move on from "Creep" and still the album failed to catch on. The band even opened for R.E.M., which, at the time, was about the best audience a band like Radiohead could hope for at the time.

If critical raves equaled album sales, The Bends would have been certified plutonium. As it stood, the band's second album was the talk of every entertainment magazine from Entertainment Weekly to Rolling Stone to the Village Voice, yet sales for Album #2 failed to match the first.

Incredulously, two years later, the band turns in the even more challenging OK Computer. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of the promo department after they'd thrown everything they had at The Bends and gotten squat in return. As obviously genius as it may have seemed to anyone at the label with ears, they were still tasked with promoting an album that seemed almost intentionally inaccessible at times.

In that sense, there was a certain punk sensibility to it all. By comparison,10cc may have been just as intentionally weird, but they were always immediate.

The one song where immediacy and nuance not only meet, but wonderfully co-exist is "Karma Police".



On first listen, the song has a certain familiarity and world weariness that one could easily be mistaken for thinking had already existed. Even so, there is something always just a tad unsettling about the arrangement that keeps it from being a "feel good" song.

I mean, who wakes up on a bright sunny morning in late May in the most beautiful city on the planet (Chicago, of course!) and says ""Hey, I feel like a cold glass of orange juice and some 'Karma Police'!"?

Nobody, that's who.

But the next time it rains cats and dogs and your expensive Macy's umbrella turns inside out like a cheap Chinese toy, there will something comforting in the plaintive words of one Thom Yorke.

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