Monday, April 1, 2013

110 The Bends. Radiofriendly head

Album: The Bends
Artist: Radiohead
Genre: Rock
Year: 1995

  1. Planet Telex
  2. The Bends
  3. High and Dry
  4. Fake Plastic Trees
  5. Bones
  6. (Nice Dream)
  7. Just
  8. My Iron Lung
  9. Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was
  10. Black Star
  11. Sulk
  12. Street Spirit (Fade Out)
According to Rolling Stone magazine this is the best Radiohead album of all time. Or at least it was back in 2003. By the time the list came to revised in 2012 they decided Kid A was actually a lot better (no album was reassessed as drastically as Kid A which went from the 428 back when the list was first produced to crack the top 100 at 67 when it was revised. It climbed over 350 places in ten years. At that rate a 2020 revision will see it sitting at number one). According to lots of other writers, the best album they released is OK Computer, or Kid A or even In Rainbows. It seems the only thing Radiohead fans can agree on is that their best album is not Pablo Honey, their debut.

Personally I struggle to decide which is better, this or OK Computer, but I can tell you that both strike me as a lot better than a lot of other stuff above both on the countdown. The Bends is magnificent from its opening moments on Planet Telex to its dying breath in Street Spirit (Fade Out). I know there are few things more tedious than a rabid Radiohead fan but they really do deserve all the praise they have lavished upon them.

Part of what makes them so great is their ability to sit entirely outside the era they record in. They don't sound like anyone else recording at the time and they don't even sound like they were listening to anything that went around them or had occurred before in popular music or their own career (no other band has developed so remarkably from their first album to their second) . It sounds like it descended from another planet by a group that hadn't heard earth music before.

The Bends rocks frenetically (on Bones, Just and the title track especially) but can be beautiful in a perfect state of calm on High and Dry and Fake Plastic Trees. It shows off Yorke's remarkably naked voice along with the guitar abilities of the Band's three guitarists. Late Radiohead albums would mask Yorke's tones in effects and remove guitar's from the mix entirely but back in 1995 they still looked like a conventional rock and roll band instead of the studio iconoclasts they became.

It's worth picking up the deluxe edition of this album which comes with an extra disk containing B-sides and EP tracks that the band was releasing around the same time that shows what an incredibly fruitful period they were in. The bonus disc of material is still better than a lot of other albums released in the mid nineties.

Personally I wouldn't rank this above OK Computer which is song-for-song a stronger album but it's one of the reasons I cite Radiohead whenever anyone tells me that modern music is worthless and won't endure like the music of the sixties. People will still be listening to The Bends 50 years from now and probably still arguing about whether it's better or worse than Kid A, King of Limbs or future Radiohead releases.

Highlight: The opening of Planet Telex
Lowlight: (Nice Dream)

Influenced by: I have no idea.
Influenced: Coldplay

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I think it would be a good idea if you added a link to your web page that would allow people to hear the cd before they review it. Just a thought."

-That's it. That's the entire review. The only thing this person felt the need to share about their experience with Radiohead was a suggestion for Amazon. Well done.

So is this the best Radiohead album of all time or not? Let me know below.

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