The “anthemic” song “would have killed us,” says the band’s guitarist.
‘Lift’ was recorded just over two decades ago during sessions for their career-defining third album, but according to Radiohead’s guitarist, the band “subconsciously” ruined the song in the studio.
In a previously unheard 2016 interview, aired this morning on BBC 6 Music, O’Brien says the band would have “probably sold a lot more records” if ‘Lift’ had been included on OK Computer.
“‘Lift’ is a funny song. We played that live with Alanis Morrissette, and it was a really interesting song because the audience, suddenly you’d see them get up and start grooving, it had this kind of infectiousness about it. It was a big, anthemic song. If that song had been on that album, it would have taken us to a different place, and we’d have probably sold a lot more records, if we’d done it right, and everyone was saying this.
He continued: “I think we kind of subconsciously killed it, because if OK Computer had been like a Jagged Little Pill, like Alanis Morrissette, it would have killed us. But ‘Lift’ probably had the potential, if we’d done it right, it just had this magic about it. And we didn’t do a good version, because when we got to the studio and did it on that record it was a bit like having a gun to your head, it felt like so much pressure.”
His enthusiasm for ‘Lift’ contrasts with his previous dismissal of the track as a “bogshite B-side,” as he once described it to a biographer. “There wasn’t any stage where it was a key track for any of us,” he said in 1999.
O’Brien also revealed the existence of a monitor mix of ‘Lift’ that “sounds pretty good”, which presumably is the version including on the OKNOTOK box set.
OKNOTOK comprises the original 12-track track album, eight B-sides and the previously unreleased tracks ‘I Promise’ and ‘Man Of War’ as well as ‘Lift’. The boxed edition also has a hardcover book containing over 30 artworks, notebook of scribbles by Thom Yorke, and C90 cassette mixtape compiled by the band.