Radiohead Guitarist on Why Band Left ‘Lift’ off ‘OK Computer’

2017-06-12

Story by Anne Erickson

Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien says ‘Lift’ could have made the band too huge

Later this month, Radiohead will unleash a handful of never-before-released tracks from the “OK Computer” era with the band’s upcoming, 20th anniversary package in honor of that release. One of those tunes, “Lift,” some fans have heard live, but they’ve never the song as a studio recording.

So, why did the band leave the track off the original album?

According to guitarist Ed O’Brien, Radiohead left “Lift” off “OK Computer” because they thought it would thrust them into stardom.

O’Brien tells the BBC Radio 6 Music that while the group was touring and opening for Alanis Morrissette, “The audience…suddenly you’d see them get up and start grooving. It had this infectiousness. It was a big anthemic song. The band was worried that the song would have been a massive hit.”

He added, “If that song had been on that album, it would’ve taken us to a different place, and probably we’d have sold a lot more records, if we’d done it right. And everyone was saying this, and we kind of subconsciously killed it. If ‘OK Computer’ had been like a Jagged Little Pill, it would’ve killed us. But ‘Lift’ probably had the potential…it just had this magic about it.”

The band went into the studio to record the track, but they just couldn’t do it. “We didn’t do a good version, because when we got to the studio and did it, it felt like having a gun to your head,” O’Brien said. Finally, they did it. “I’ve got a monitor mix, and it is pretty good,” he said.

The 20th reissue of “OK Computer,” titled “OKNOTOK,” will arrive on June 23. The collection will be available as a two-CD set, three-LP package and digitally.

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