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Radiohead - The Bends CD (album) cover




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5 stars

Radiohead: The Bends (1995)

Thom Yorke: Vocals, Guitar Johnny Greenwood: Lead Guitar, Organ, Synthesizer, Piano Colin Greenwood: Bass Phil Selway: Drums Ed O'Brian: Guitar, Backing Vocals

It may be hard to believe that the hard-hitting alternative band Radiohead was called 'a lily livered excuse for a rock band'. With the release of the first LP Pablo Honey and their well known single Creep, they had been criticsed as a one hit wonder, as they failed to release any other track on the record prior to the fame of Creep. It seemed to be that Creep was the only track on the record that had any potential of fame.

Due to the criticism given to Radiohead, in 1995 they released their second LP known as The Bends. The album followed the popular path of Indie Rock, tracks such as High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees and Street Spirit (Fade Out) are only a few of many Indie anthem tracks on the record. The album was voted 100th best album of all time out of 500 in the Rolling Stones magazine. So far it seemed that all critics had been proved wrong.

The name of the album refers to decompression sickness, which is where deep-sea divers come up to the surface of the sea to quick, thus the name of the album being a metaphor of Radiohead's sudden and unexpected fame. The lyrics throughout written by Thom Yorke are all related to his unhappiness, his lyrics are mostly seen as health metaphors in songs such as Bones and My Iron Lung. These songs are related to real life problems in the society that we live in and the suffering that some people have to go through in life. Thom Yorke's lyrics are somewhat notorious for being depressive and dissatisfied. He uses themes such as alienation and technology, of which are most popular in their records.

There are two sides to the album, one being the classic Indie Rock most famous in the time of 1995, another being an array of Orchestra and synthesized loops. Radiohead's alternative style heard in the album differs to the bleach blonde Indie Rock that was usually heard in 1995.

The album opens with possibly the most contemporary track on the record. Planet Telex opens the album with synthesized background loop alongside keyboard and spaced out guitar rhythm. The lead guitarist Johnny Greenwood shows his matchless style of playing with classic heavy riffs to clean cut solos. Johnny was originally given the roll of playing the Harmonica, when ironically turned out to be the bands lead guitarist.

Five songs were released on the album; those being My Iron Lung, High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees, Just and Street Spirit (fade out). Fake plastic Trees was a huge hit in the U.S and quickly became an album favourite. The song begins with a soft acoustic touch alongside the light, high vocals from Yorke, thus leading to the ending of the song in a trance that was very unique to the sound of 1995.

Songs such as Just show that there was still a fast, strong side to Radiohead, as the striking acoustic riff leads to a heavily distorted introduction. The song shows that Radiohead had not diverted away from Indie Rock and that due to the fast riffs and textbook vocals, Just is just what earlier fans wanted to hear. The song can be compared to You, the opener from Pablo Honey, both being very strong and aggressive. The critically acclaimed video shows the seriousness in the song, and the ending to it has boggled minds from all over the globe.

Other songs such as Street Spirit (Fade out) or High and Dry were seen as Radiohead's best ever. The incomparable acoustic riff in Street Spirit has shown that the song is one of the biggest cult anthems of the 90's. Vocally, the song is more emotional than ever before, as the lengthy elevated sound of Thom's voice was yet another first for Radiohead. Yorke may have stretched his voice to such a pitch in Pablo Honey, but never before had he kept the note for such a long time. High and Dry also shows a more sad and unhappy feeling, as lyrically the song is about being hated, and left out. The song begins with a customized drum beat lead to an acoustic rhythm alongside the faded lead in the background.

The Bends has been and still is considered not only one of Radiohead's best albums, but one of the very best albums of all time. Although, The Bends seemed to be firmly pushed off the shelf once they released there latter album prior to The Bends, OK Computer. Ok Computer was recently voted by millions of English television viewers the greatest album of all time, overcoming such albums by The Beatles and U2. In a way the albums are similar guitar-wise, although OK Computer was the beginning of Radiohead's 'experimental' era, of which still lives up to date in albums such as Amnesiac, Kid A and Hail to the Thief.

rennie101 | 5/5 |


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