Radiohead are to release their fabled “lost single” Lift on a 20th anniversary edition of OK Computer.
The yearning rock anthem was played extensively during their 1996 tour, and a studio version is one of the band’s most sought-after tracks.
Speaking to BBC 6 Music, guitarist Ed O’Brien admitted the band had bottled out of including it on OK Computer.
“If that song had been on that album, it would have taken us to a different place,” he told Matt Everitt.
“We’d probably have sold a lot more records… [But] I think we subconsciously killed it because if OK Computer had been like a Jagged Little Pill, like Alanis Morisette, it would have killed us.”
O’Brien said the band had never made a “good version” of the song “because when we got to the studio and did it, it was a bit like having a gun to your head. We felt so much pressure.”
Played live, Lift builds steadily from a gently strummed intro to a widescreen, anthemic climax; as Thom Yorke describes being “stuck in a lift” before emerging to declare: “Today is the first day of the rest of your days.”
The band previewed it while supporting Morissette on her 1996 US tour, and O’Brien recalled that it was often the highlight of their set.
“It was a really interesting song, because the audience, you’d suddenly see them get up and start grooving. It had this kind of infectiousness about it.”
Lift will be featured alongside two further out-takes, I Promise and Man Of War, on OKNOTOK, a new release marking the 20th birthday of Radiohead’s landmark 1997 album, OK Computer.
The two CD/triple vinyl set will also include a remastered version of OK Computer and eight B-sides.
An expanded box set will boast the triple LP, as well as a cassette tape compiled by the band featuring tracks taken from the OK Computer session archives and demo tapes.
The limited edition set will also include a replica of Yorke’s handwritten notebook from the era and a hardcover book packed with unreleased artwork and lyrics “to all the tracks except the ones that haven’t really got any lyrics”.
The band has also revived its 1997-era website to mark the occasion.
OK Computer remains one of Radiohead’s most beloved albums – marking the point where they shrugged off the strictures of “rock” and began to write more fluid, experimental songs.
Featuring the haunting, claustrophobic singles Paranoid Android, Karma Police and No Surprises, it was named the best album of the last 25 years by readers of Q Magazine, and in 2015 was added to the US National Recording Registry, meaning it will be preserved in the Library of Congress.
The library said the album had been recognised for “its themes of anti-consumerism, social alienation, isolation, malaise and an overall atmosphere of melancholy”.
The re-release is due out on 23 June, the same night Radiohead top the bill at Glastonbury Festival.
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