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Radiohead's OK Computer (Thirty Three and a Third series) Paperback – August 11, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 15)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (August 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826416632
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826416636
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.5 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Griffiths portrays a thorough, academic deconstruction….no small feat for a book of only approximately 120 pages….[Griffiths] also brings his vast familiarity with records of all genres past and present, which lends undeniable credibility to his insight." —Dan Weller, Times Leader (NE PA) 10/06/04 (Dan Weller, Times Leader)

"Some will find it amusing that Griffiths, professor of music at Oxford Brookes University, compares the album's lead-off track to 'the cello part in a Brahms or Faure sonata.' But given that a) the guys in Radiohead probably listen to Brahms and b) the guys and gals in Radiohead's audience probably don't, he's actually performing a service….B+" —Austin American-Statesman, Oct. 17, 2004

"Griffiths gives an interesting take on a band whose legacy hasn't yet been chronicled into the canon." —Zack Adcock, The Hub Weekly, 1/13/05

"Griffiths portrays a thorough, academic deconstruction….no small feat for a book of only approximately 120 pages….[Griffiths] also brings his vast familiarity with records of all genres past and present, which lends undeniable credibility to his insight." —Dan Weller, Times Leader (NE PA) 10/06/04 (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Dai Griffiths is Head of the Department of Music at Oxford Brookes University.

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Customer Reviews

He at no time seems like a fan, either of OK Computer or anything else.
D. Dalton
The 33 1/3 series is a gift and when I saw they were writing a book on one of my all time favorite recordings, OK Computer, I couldn't have been happier.
P. Serilla
And my poor review isn't simply a matter of disagreeing with the author, this is a tedious read throughout.
J. D. Herr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By P. Serilla on October 26, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The 33 1/3 series is a gift and when I saw they were writing a book on one of my all time favorite recordings, OK Computer, I couldn't have been happier.

The book in a word however, blows.

Much of the book is dedicated to some aimless theories about the place of LP records and cds in the broad landscape of musicology. Considering how painfully short this book is to begin with, it seems like a perfect waste of space - filler for an academic journal. When the author does get around to the actual work of Radiohead, he almost exclusively refers to the musical score and references much of their work as only "sound effects." While his analysis of the notes on the page is at times compelling, he fails miserably to describe "musical" and "technical" choices not accounted for in the score and their impact on the recording.

While other books in series may at times be criticized for being too journalistic, and speculating at the intent of the musicians, here the author goes to far in the other direction -- there isn't even a mention of the unique recording space this album was crafted in, not to mention any speculation as to the effect it might have had. Nigel Godrich the producer (along with the band) and engineer is reduced merely a mention, any notion of sculpting sound with studio tools is non-existent.

Considering the direction the band has pursued after this record, highly electronic and diffuse by western musical standards, this book serves little interesting purpose, but perhaps to serve as a footnote in a more comprehensive book by an author who can synthesize the roll of the composer with the concept of a recording as piece of art that is constructed with a different set of skills than the score it maybe also represented by.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Richard Page on October 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
I bought this book knowing it would be academic. I knew it wouldn't be about the band, or what the album means to people. I wanted an academic dissertation about one of the most significant and influential modern rock albums.

Unfortunately, Griffiths belies his position as the Head of the Department of Music at a university by completely failing to either a) back up his conclusions with data or b) draw meaning from his data. This book is full of charts and breakdowns of the album and its songs that have no meaning. There are three pages listing the lyrics to "Fitter Happier" and catagorizing them as "nouned" or "verbed." What this means is not actually explained. There is an appendix listing all of the albums receiving the album of the year award from NME and Melody Maker since 1974. Perhaps Griffiths is, as he claims Radiohead does with their "sound effects," merely padding out the length of the book?

It is frustrating as well that the book fails so completely in what it set out to do, which is actually pretty interesting. OK Computer is unique in being the most recent album generally considered among the "Greatest of All Time," and the only CD album. Griffiths wants to investigate what is unique about CDs, but merely concludes that they are longer and have uninterrupted middles. (I do agree that tracks 6-8 of the album do pretty much sum up the 90s).

It is also rather telling that there is a section of the book about how much better music made by music critics would be than music made merely by "creators." Griffiths wishes he could explain the impact and significance of OK Computer, both in format and relevance to modern life with dry charts and pretentious, academic speculation, but in the end, he really has no idea what he's talking about.

Also, I don't think he actually likes the album.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By B on December 31, 2005
Format: Paperback
a lot of reviews on amazon are misleading, but this one isnt. i dig the album ok computer as much as anyone else on here, and although i realized the book had the potential of being dry and academic (which is not always a horrible thing), i thought it would come up with some good insights or something. the first half of the book is about the history of recorded music in america, and (like another reveiewer mentions), it talks about the differences between cds and records and the changing concept of the "album" but mainly just points out that cds are one part instead of 2 complementary halves. this would be okay if the part that is actually about radiohead had more substance. he makes questionable lists regarding the songs' running time and tonal centers, and devotes a large amount of time classifying the lyrics to "fitter happier." somehow all this quantitative study gets us nowhere, he doesnt even seem to "get" the music at all, he keeps complaining about sound effects, and is unsuccessful in synthesizing meaning from elements that are insignificant to begin with.

do not buy this book, buy the album. buy kid a too, while youre at it
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Century on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ugh. This is an example of how academia has invaded and pillaged modern music writing. This woeful treatise on Dai Griffiths's random thoughts on pop music and the question of "classic status" uses Radiohead's OK Computer as an unfortunate jumping off point. Most of the book is devoted to the study of pop music, the lexicon of recording conventions, and a labored breakdown of songs, not by sensible musical breaks, but awkwardly by minutes and seconds. Reading this book is about as much fun as parsing a calculus equation. Indeed it reminded me of why I am so glad to be out of school. It's intellectual masturbation (or wanking, I suppose) of the worst kind.

A choice quote: "...OK Computer might in time be a focal point for historians of life at the close of the twentieth century. 'This is what was really going on.' You want to know what 1997 felt like? OK Computer: tracks six - eight. Pushed for time? - track seven."

Track seven of course is "Fitter Happier." Yep. That song sums up the end of the 20th century, according to Griffiths, and naturally, this record. Point of fact, more time is spent discussing "Fitter Happier" in this book than for any other song on the album, a very strong indication of worthless dissection by a rhetorical bore.

Another great quote: "Thom Yorke is less a songwriter to my mind than a peculiar thing, an 'idea-led word-producer,' the words important as things in themselves rather than necessarily for their place in the song."

That from the section in the book, "Words." And from the section, "Those pesky sound-effect openings and endings":

"I'm not sure about those bits, though they certainly pad out the time.
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