Radiohead’s ‘Lift': Everything You Need to Know About the ‘OK Computer’ Bonus Tracks
When Radiohead releases OK Computer: OKNOTOK, an expanded edition of their groundbreaking 1997 album OK Computer in June, fans will finally hear three tracks that have long say in the band’s vaults and brains.
Though previously unreleased, the three tracks, “Lift,” “I Promise” and “Man of War,” won’t be completely unfamiliar to fans. “Lift” had a regular spot in 1996 set lists (which you can see in the video above), when it became a fan favorite, and was resurrected on tour in 2002. Radiohead started tinkering with it again in 2014, while they began work on 2016's A Moon Shaped Pool.
According to fan site Green Plastic, frontman Thom Yorke said he wasn’t happy with their live performances of “Lift” in the ‘90s, and even recorded a few versions during their sessions for OK Computer but never released it. Yorke wanted to air it out before the band began dissecting it. They toyed with putting versions it on Kid A in 2000 and Amnesiac in 2001, but it never came to fruition.
“We haven’t lost the song. We played it too much in a certain way that didn’t work in my opinion,” he said. “It didn’t feel right. So we need to approach it in a different way but at the time of OK Computer it was impossible to get into rearranging it because everyone had fixed ideas on what to play and we’d all just got into a habit we couldn’t break, like staring too long at strangers, know what I mean?”
Listen to Radiohead Perform "Lift" in 2002
Although guitarist Ed O’Brien called the song “a bogs---e B-side and we were very happy to leave it off the album,” according to Variety, Radiohead unveiled a slower, more lyrically polished version of “Lift” in Lisbon, Portugal, and at a few other shows in 2002. The update also notably removes mention of Thom, the person being saved from a stuck elevator.
As recently as 2015, while confirming that the band had been working on the tune again, guitarist Jonny Greenwood told the Dutch website 3voor12 that such resurrections are common practice for Radiohead albums.
“What people don’t know is that there’s a very old song on each album, like 'Nude' on In Rainbows. We never found the right arrangement for that, until then. ‘Lift’ is just like that. When the idea is right, it stays right. It doesn’t really matter in which form.”
You can pre-order OK Computer OKNOTOK, which will be released on June 23, on Radiohead's website.
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