Radiohead Call For A Revolution

On their upcoming album Radiohead take plenty of chances. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Almost two years after the release of their critically-acclaimed

album, The Bends, England's Radiohead have completed their self-produced

third album, OK Computer. The album is tentatively set for release in

Japan in mid-May, and in the UK and U.S. on July 1.

The album (ATN

obtained an advance copy of the Japanese version, which may differ slightly

from the U. S. release) is a striking departure from the group's previous work.

OK Computer offers up a fresh sound from the band that became famous for

the 1993 angst-ridden anthem, "Creep" (off their debut album, Pablo


With the exception of a few songs, OK Computer displays

the more mellow, dreamy side of Radiohead. "Exit Music (for a film)," a

bare-bones acoustic number, has the timeless characteristics of U2's "One."

Singer/songwriter Thom Yorke's beautiful, almost feminine vocals crack with

solid emotion as he pleads, "Breathe, keep breathing/ Don't lose your

nerve...sing us a song/ A song to keep us warm."

If the album has a theme,

it would appear to be politics. "No Surprises," a beautifully-dark ballad,

directly calls for a revolt: "Bring down the government/ They don't speak to

us." "Electioneering," a furiously quick, guitar-dominated track, has Yorke

yelling, "You can't fool us!"

Some unexpected twists...

Some unexpected twists make the album hard to categorize.

"Fitter, Happier" contains samples of author/professor Stephen Hawking, who

speaks through an electronic voice synthesizer. There are no vocals from Yorke,

just music with Hawking speaking on the ways to a fitter, happier lifestyle.

Yorke's own vocals on many of the songs are hard to understand. Radiohead

appears to have in some ways fashioned OK Computer after R.E.M.'s debut

album, Murmur (Radiohead are self-professed R.E.M fanatics and spent two

months as openers for the band). When Murmur was released, some critics

nicknamed the album "Mumble" after Michael Stipe's vocal style which made it

impossible to make out the lyrics.

Yorke has said in interviews that he

and his band mates wanted to make something that would not only enthrall

listeners but confuse them. It appears will accomplish that goal when the album

is released. For instance, "Subterranean Homesick Alien (Uptight)," the third

track on the album, has nothing to do with Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick

Blues." It sounds nothing like Dylan's breakthrough "rap" song, and there is no

mention of the word "subterranean," "homesick" or "alien" (or any reference to

Dylan's song) in the four-minute number. This kind of head-wrecking is typical


OK Computer is laced with thick piano chords and

electronic dubs. Not easy listening (particularly the first this), the album is

a brilliant, gorgeous piece of work.

The full track listing (for the

Japanese version) is: "Airbag," "Paranoid Android," "Subterranean Homesick

Alien (Uptight)," "Exit Music (for a film)," "Let Down," "Karma Police,"

"Fitter, Happier," "Electioneering," "Climbing Up the Walls," "No Surprises,"

"Lucky," "The Tourist."