Radiohead – ‘OK Computer’

I’ve never been the most ambitious person. No grand plans or aspirations, just a little comfort and finding happiness in experiences rather than material things. Most importantly I have to enjoy working. As Bob Dylan once said: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” I was enjoying my job at MVC but to increase the job satisfaction I wanted to manage my own shop. As that wasn’t available at Bournemouth or Poole I had to look elsewhere. I ended up in Penzance.

Living along the coast in the quaint and idyllic Marazion I lucked out on location. I was there for about nine months and during that time one album shines brightly in my musical memory alongside coastal walks, Vespa rides and jaunts over to St. Michael’s Mount. Radiohead’s OK Computer was an extraordinarily magnificent collection of fiercely intense, sometimes agonisingly sublime songs. Easy listening it was not, but most of the best albums aren’t. Thom Yorke seemed and sounded genuinely anguished, absorbed and suffocated within these songs. I absolutely loved it.

Their first album Pablo Honey was known to me by name only. Follow up The Bends I knew just because of the singles, which I liked but paid little attention to. But what was impossible to ignore and turned me most definitely on to OK Computer was their astonishing performance on Jools Holland’s Later… I think the album had just been released, so I and a queuefull of eager Penzance punters swept it up on the back of that performance.

Ok Computer is another of those albums where words don’t seem anywhere near enough to do it justice. Here’s a crappy stab… Complex, textured and ambitiously contemporary. A pulsating, guitar-driven voyage into the synthetic nature of ‘90s Britain. Alt-rock. Art-rock. Yada Yada. How does it make you FEEL? Or perhaps more relevant to OK Computer, how does it make you think?

It’s an album that begs for headphones, for the listener to be all consumed in its infinite depth, to fully commit to the ride. Clearly this was five men at their experimental peak, pushing boundaries and creating new sounds, but that’s Radiohead all over isn’t it? Constantly innovating, pioneering and futuristic. Always fucking with the music industry. Zero compromise. The best band since, well… OK Computer.

Cool, memories of an album without naming one track. That said, I loved this line from Paranoid Android

“Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
Kicking, squealing Gucci little piggy”

Supergrass – ‘In It For The Money’

At the start of ’97 I made two notable purchases. A flat and a 1963 Vespa Sportique. I loved that scooter and the ride outs to the Isle of Wight and trips to the New Forest, Sandbanks and Studland. The flat in Westbourne Arcade was a good move. Fun times were had, mostly with MVC comrades and the odd bottle of JD. I was still DJing at Shake Your Mini and having a love/hate thing with much of the indie and Britpop, which, like Oasis’ Be Here Now was an overblown bore. But some bands were on it, and none more than Supergrass, whose second long-player In It For The Money was an absolute gem.

I Should Coco largely passed me by, but Alright was impossible to ignore being the stormer that it was. In It For The Money is bookended by what is effectively an average intro and a below average outro, but what is contained within is all killer, no filler. Richard III should be the opener. Bam! Straight in. No messing. A more grown-up, edgier, harder Alright, it’s another classic, iconic pop single that delivers in deep, heavy spades. Tonight keeps the energy and tempo at max before Late In The Day takes it down a notch or three and wins just because of Gaz Coombes’ vocals.

Sun Hits The Sky wins best track of the album. Nah, best track of the year. This is Supergrass in top gear, in overdrive, at glorious downhill with no brakes full pelt. I’ve no idea what it’s about but it sounds like an exhilarating tour de force with added groove once Mick Quinn’s bass storms the last minute. Going Out has a touch of fairground ride about it with Gaz’s harmonised vocals with added brass before It’s Not Me, an emotive and self-reflective acoustic beauty that rains sincerity…

“It’s not me, no, no, not me,
But I don’t know what is
I try and find my peace of mind
But I know what I miss
Now it’s gone
Now it’s gone
Now it’s gone.”

The album chugs along with equal measures of melody and urgency before Hollow Little Reign, which sounds like a dreamy and faintly funky album finale. In It For The Money is an exhilarating ride of positivity, due in no small part to Gaz Coombes’ vocals it emanates everything that Britpop at its best was trying to be. It’s two tracks away from being a classic album, but for Sun Hits The Sky alone it does more than enough to remind me of a very sunny summer, of t.shirted, traffic dodging Vespa rides over to Shell Bay and Studland. Bliss.