Radiohead celebrate classic album with Spectrum program
A must for all kicking screaming Gucci little piggies.
This little story combines several things -- firstly, in this age where streaming music for a monthly fee is the way that most people listen to everything they want, it's common for bands and artists to release highly expensive but very collectible limited editions of their best works -- physical music, more than ever, is a market for the afficionado with plenty of income. Because of this, old formats are now back in fashion -- you probably know already that there's a big market for vinyl records again, but did you know that there's one for cassette tapes too? Yep -- and that's only getting bigger. Soon it'll be 8-tracks, and then it'll be wax cylinders. Nothing is safe from hipsters, not even the works of Thomas Alva Edison.
Anyway, to get to the point: Radiohead have just released a special edition of their classic 1997 album OK Computer titled OKNOTOK, which is yours for the cost of £100. It's got an art book, lots of notes from Thom Yorke, a limited edition vinyl and a C90 cassette tape filled mostly with rare demos, the last two minutes of which feature...a ZX Spectrum computer program. No, really. Thankfully someone has put the whole thing up on YouTube, saving us the rather expensive layout.
Sadly it isn't a Radiohead game or anything where you control the band through 100 punishing screens of platform action (that'll be in the 30th anniversary edition), but it is a cute little extra complete with a load of random beeps and boops in the end (the good old RANDOMIZE function at work) that even as we speak, some people on AtEaseWeb (if that's still around) are probably claiming to be a carefully crafted work of musical genius. Certain people are obviously creaming themselves over a band celebrating their album with a computer based title with a program on an old computer as if no one's been doing anything on the Speccy for all this time, but you expect that. It's just a bit of fun really, with a secret message that ironically tells you to get out more.
What can be gleamed from this? Is music, at least when it comes to the critically acclaimed sorts, getting more nerdier than ever, with a market that's hungry for packed out releases with weird extras such as this and has the cash to spend on such things? What's next -- an anniversary edition of Blur's 13 complete with a "Coffee and TV" based BBC Micro game? And where does it all end? Truthfully, Radiohead are probably one of the very few bands around who could actually pull something like this off and not get mocked to high heaven for it -- and honestly, the thought of some folks desperately dusting off their old Spectrums and trying to make them off or, even better, buying one from eBay just to check out this little nothing of a 30-second program is...well, kind of amusing. And maybe that's the point.