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Man of War (song)

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"Man of War"
Single by Radiohead
from the album OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017
Released22 June 2017
RecordedFebruary 1996
StudioChipping Norton, Oxfordshire
GenreAlternative rock
Radiohead singles chronology
"I Promise"
"Man of War"
"If You Say the Word"
Music video
"Man of War" on YouTube

"Man of War" is a song by the English rock band Radiohead, released on 22 June 2017 on the compilation OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017.

Radiohead first performed "Man of War" while on tour for their second album, The Bends (1995). The singer, Thom Yorke, described it as a homage to James Bond themes. They recorded a version during the early sessions for their third album, OK Computer (1997), but abandoned it as they felt it was too similar to their previous work. In 1998, Radiohead recorded a rearranged version for the 1998 film The Avengers, but were unsatisfied with the results and it went unreleased.

Years later, Radiohead submitted "Man of War" for the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, but it was rejected as it had not been written for the film. It remained unreleased until 2017, when it was included on the OK Computer reissue OKNOTOK 1997 2017.



OK Computer version

The former Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire, where Radiohead recorded "Man of War" in 1996

Radiohead performed "Man of War" several times while on tour for their second album, The Bends, in 1995.[1] It had the working title "Big Boots".[2] The singer, Thom Yorke, said it was a written as a homage to James Bond themes.[3] On the same tour, Radiohead covered "Nobody Does It Better", the theme from the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.[4]

Radiohead considered recording "Man of War" as a B-side for the Bends single "Street Spirit (Fade Out)".[3] Instead, they recorded a version in the first sessions for their third album, OK Computer (1997), at Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Oxfordshire, with their producer, Nigel Godrich, in February 1996.[5][6] However, it went unreleased.[7] According to the drummer, Philip Selway, Radiohead felt "Man of War" was too similar to The Bends and they wanted to explore new styles. He said "we knew that it was a good song, but it never really found its place".[5]

Avengers version


In March 1998, Radiohead and Godrich recorded a rearranged version of "Man of War" in Abbey Road Studios for the 1998 spy film The Avengers, but this was abandoned.[8] This version contained electronic elements.[9] Footage of the recording session appears in the 1998 documentary Meeting People Is Easy.[8] Yorke said: "We were so messed up and we went in, tried to do the track, but we just couldn't do it. It was actually a really difficult period of time. We had a five-week break and all the shit was coming to the surface ... It was a real low point after it."[10]

Spectre version


Years later, Radiohead were approached to write the theme for the 2015 James Bond film Spectre.[11] The director, Sam Mendes, and the James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, were both Radiohead fans.[12] In July 2015, the bookmaker William Hill suspended bets after a customer placed £15,000 at ten-to-one odds on Radiohead recording the next Bond theme, suspecting insider knowledge.[13] In September, the conductor Robert Ziegler, who had worked with Radiohead on their 2011 album The King of Limbs, tweeted photos of the band recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[14]

Radiohead submitted a new version of "Man of War" for Spectre. It was rejected by the production team as it had not been written for the film and so would be ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.[15] Mendes said that "you want to feel like it's written just for the movie".[16] Radiohead suspended work on their ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool (2016), to record another theme, "Spectre", but the film producers rejected it as too dark.[11][15]



In June 2017, Radiohead released "Man of War" on the OK Computer reissue OKNOTOK 1997 2017 alongside two other previously unreleased tracks: "I Promise" and "Lift".[17] The final version was based on the version recorded at Chipping Norton in 1996.[5] According to Selway, "This is the version of the song we all felt best captured what was good about it."[5]



Rolling Stone described "Man of War" as a "crisp mid-tempo ballad" with strings, piano, and "shards of distressed electric guitar".[17] It opens with a guitar figure before a distorted chorus.[18] The lyrics are "anxious" and "nerve-racking", with the refrain "the worms will come for you".[17] Drowned in Sound described "Man of War" as "grandiose" and the "opposite" of Radiohead's other Bond theme, "Spectre".[19]

Music video


The "Man of War" music video, directed by Colin Read, was released in June 2017 on YouTube. The video alternates from day to night, with the mood shifting from "cheerful to paranoid". It follows a man walking from a park who appears carefree by day but "seems to be hiding something" at night.[17]



PopMatters praised "Man of War" as the strongest of the bonus tracks released on OKNOTOK, and argued that it could have appeared on the original OK Computer.[18] The PopMatters critics awarded it an average score of 8.3 out of 10.[20]





Additional personnel



Chart (2017) Peak
France (SNEP)[21] 178


  1. ^ "Radiohead share video for previously unreleased song "Man of War" — watch". Consequence of Sound. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Watch Radiohead's new video for previously unreleased track 'Man of War'". NME. 22 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Turn Your Radiohead On!". NME. 18 November 1995.
  4. ^ Greene, Jason (22 June 2017). "Radiohead: OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017 Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Selway, Philip (June 2017). "X-Posure with John Kennedy". Radio X (Interview). Interviewed by John Kennedy. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  6. ^ Godrich, Nigel (June 2017). "Radcliffe and Maconie". BBC 6 Music (Interview). Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  7. ^ "The Music Producers". The Word. 3 July 2011. Archived from the original on 3 July 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b Hogan, Marc (4 March 2016). "19 Unreleased Radiohead Songs That Could Be on Their Next Album". Pitchfork. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  9. ^ Mejia, Paula (23 June 2017). "The secret history of Radiohead's OK Computer". Vulture. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Radiohead's 'Man of War': Everything You Need to Know About the 'OK Computer' Bonus Tracks". Diffuser.fm. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  11. ^ a b Greene, Andy (8 June 2017). "19 things we learned hanging out with Radiohead". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  12. ^ The Sound of 007 (documentary). Amazon Prime. October 2022. Event occurs at 1:06:00. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  13. ^ "Nobody does it, better: Bond theme betting suspended after punter tries to put £15,000 on Radiohead". The Guardian. 29 July 2015. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  14. ^ Minsker, Evan (6 September 2015). "Radiohead Appear in New Studio Photos". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 12 May 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  15. ^ a b Sawyer, Miranda (5 November 2017). "Sound and Vision: Sam Mendes". BBC. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  16. ^ The Sound of 007 (documentary). Amazon Prime. October 2022. Event occurs at 1:06:00. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  17. ^ a b c d Leight, Elias (23 June 2017). "See Radiohead's paranoia-inducing 'Man of War' video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  18. ^ a b "'OKNOTOK' and the Nostalgic Radiohead". PopMatters. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Album Review: Radiohead - OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017". DrownedInSound. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  20. ^ "Radiohead - "Man of War" (Singles Going Steady)". PopMatters. 28 June 2017.
  21. ^ "Radiohead - Man Of War" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 July 2017.