25 years ago, Radiohead’s genre-bending, era-defining OK Computer entered the UK Albums Chart (opens in new tab) at the number one position.
Winning a Grammy (opens in new tab) award for the Best Alternative Music Performance, the band’s third studio album remained in the top 40 for nigh on a year.
Progressive, dynamic and daring, OK Computer pushed the envelope of guitar music into uncharted territory and received a hero’s welcome from fans and musicians alike.
Self-produced with long-time collaborator Nigel Godrich, the album marked a stylistic turning point in Radiohead’s career as they continued to freely explore new sonic ground.
OK Computer’s lead single, Paranoid Android, scored Radiohead their highest charting single to date, reaching number three in the UK Singles Chart (opens in new tab).
Clocking in at around six-and-a-half minutes, Paranoid Android is considered relatively lengthy for a single, although the original version was well over twice as long – courtesy of lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s Hammond organ solo.
A skilled multi-instrumentalist and composer, Greenwood’s organ odyssey was ultimately replaced by a series of unforgettable electric guitar parts, some of which are thought to have been processed using a rare Mutronics Mutator (opens in new tab).
This highly inventive approach to guitar tone extended to Greenwood's pedalboard where he was able to produce a wide spectrum of unique sounds from dreamy lysergic delays to angular assaults of distortion.
According to the excellent Radiohead gear site thekingofgear.com (opens in new tab), Greenwood’s 1997/1998 OK Computer tour rig comprised an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone (opens in new tab) phaser, Demeter Tremulator tremolo, DOD Envelope Filter 440, DigiTech WH-1 Whammy (opens in new tab) Pedal and Boss LS-2 Line Selector (opens in new tab).
It is believed the LS-2 split the signal to a Vox AC30 (opens in new tab) tube amp (via a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive (opens in new tab), Boss RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay and Roland RE-201 Space Echo (opens in new tab) tape echo/spring reverb unit) and a Fender Eighty-Five solid state guitar amp (via a Marshall Shred Master distortion in front of a Boss FV-300H volume pedal).
In 1995, Greenwood’s original Fender Telecaster Plus guitars were stolen, prompting him to acquire a replacement sunburst model, as featured in the clip below.
Sporting stock Lace Sensor pickups – comprising a Dually Red-Red (opens in new tab) humbucker and Blue (opens in new tab) single coil in the bridge and neck positions, respectively – this guitar was rewired with an Apem 300 series pushbutton switch that momentarily cuts the signal.
The addition of this kill switch enabled Greenwood to create the stuttering effects heard during live renditions of OK Computer songs such as Airbag, Electioneering and Paranoid Android.
Browse the Radiohead catalogue here (opens in new tab).