Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by ponkine, Jul 11, 2020.
I’m chime in once its time for Kid A to be discussed.
The Bends was my favorite Radiohead LP until Kid A came out. OKC didn’t really blow me away at first. I liked it but I missed the choruses and soaring parts of the Bends. After Kid A i reassessed OKC
'The Bends' is such incredible leap from 'Pablo Honey'
I remember reading a review here the day it came out, and it stated that all the fears about being a "one hit wonder" vanished forever. It said "ha nacido un gran grupo" (a great band has born), with the second album being an astounding collection of great songs.
A couple of days later I went to the local music stores to buy the album. I got the CD, and I listened to from start to finish. Those were the days
I was 14 when The Bends came out. There was a CD subscription service that allowed you to buy a certain number of CDs for $5.00 or something crazy like that. The CD subscription service had a catalogue that was mailed to my house and The Bends was listed on the first page and I thought the cover was cool (it reminded me of Max Headroom - now there's a reference people won't get in another 10/20 years!). The subscription service allowed you to call a phone number and you could input the catalogue number of a particular CD and listen to 30 second song snippets. Because I thought the cover was cool, I dialed the number and listened to Fake Plastic Trees, High and Dry and Planet Telex. This is how an only child in the suburbs, without MTV, discovered music in the early/mid 90s!
At the time, I was mostly listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, the Pumpkins, Beasties and GN'R, so this was more mellow than I was used to, but I liked it, so I ordered it and listened to a handful of tracks. I'd usually only play 3 or 4 songs from the CD before moving on, but when OKC came out, it really blew my mind, so then I went back and listened to the other tracks on The Bends and fell in love with the album. It's been one of my favorite albums ever since (although I still like OKC, KidA and In Rainbows better).
The leap between this and Pablo Honey is pretty astounding, but of course the clues were in the eps.
I had almost forgotten about them for a bit besides Creep, which still got radio play where I lived. I remember when I was 15, watching the debut of the Fake Plastic Trees video on 120 Minutes, and just thinking, ‘hmmm.’ It was SO SLOW for me at that age and I don’t know that I even finished watching the video, so I didn’t even know how it builds to the climactic ending, I just kinda dismissed it and forgot about it. Impatient little ....
Anyway a few weeks later I see The Bends disc in my friend’s bedroom and I ask him how is it? He said it was the best album he’d ever heard. I was like, better than Nevermind? In Utero? Etc.? He’s like yeah, it’s that good. So I bought it, after two other friends vouched for it, as well.
I would get really absorbed into whatever I was listening to at this age. Hold the liner notes the whole time, read along with the lyrics. I’ve since stopped doing that and prefer not to, especially the first listen to something, but back then I always read along with the lyrics and that was the key to unlocking their new direction, for me. When Fake Plastic Trees hit this time, the lyrics absolutely floored me. I’d never heard anything like that, married along to that incredibly sympathetic accompaniment and melody. The rest of the album followed suit.
Subsequent listens revealed all the sonic textures and deftly tight dynamics I’d been too distracted to hear the first time. I was a true fan, now. Bulletproof was the first song I could play and sing at the same time. One of my bands in high school covered the title track (poorly). Street Spirit was god-like. Planet Telex sounded like the future. Just, My Iron Lung, Bones were whiplash inducing thrill rides. Johnny Greenwood joined my burgeoning Guitar Pantheon. Nice Dream, Black Star and Sulk dripped with sweet pathos.
The Bends is one the classic albums of the decade, and like OKC it’s one of the best of the classics.
It's like they took the guitar crunch of Pablo Honey, and added textures and atmosphere (as well as better songs and production). For the next record, they'd take all those combined elements and begin to add electronics and synths.
I didn’t get a chance to chime in yesterday, but Maquiladora and Killer Cars both rule, as I used to say back then.
4.5/10 for Bones? Ouch. To each their own.
I agree with the rest of your scores, within a 100.5 margin of error....
Of all the songs on The Bends, I think “Street Spirit” is the one that stands closest with the later material. It still sounds immense live. The way the guitars weave together is just perfect. And then the melody and lyrics on top! I still think those are some of his best lyrics
Like most folks at the time, my first impression of the Bends came from the often-played video for Fake Plastic Trees. I always viewed that as somewhat of a mistake, following up the sad-sack, “why can’t she love me” anthem of Creep with the sad-sack, “why can’t she love me” anthem Fake Plastic Trees. It’s a nice enough song, maybe even poignant, but it seemed to risk pigeonholing the band, when the album had a lot more to offer. Hence, it took me a little while to pick up the album—I think on the strength of High and Dry. (Just is a great song live, but I’ve never loved it on the album.)
And while the album is great, the problem for me is the the next one completely trounces it. So it’s hard for me to get back to when the Bends was an unlikely great album, the best they ever, ever had. I don’t revisit it too often. Planet Telex should be brought back to the setlists. Street Spirit is their unlikely “40”, the song that should be played last at every show. There are other highlights, but those peaks sort of define the album, for me.
All of the kids in my high school were into grunge. I was discovering all that British alternative music... the Cure, Depeche Mode, Smiths/Morrissey, Stone Roses, Charlatans, New Order, etc, etc. I was also getting into folkier alternative music on my side of the pond... REM, Indigo Girls, Grapes of Wrath, early Sarah McLachlan. Then britpop hit and despite no one else in my corner of the world, I was in love.
Pablo Honey was the only “grunge” album I owned and could tolerate. But it was still just ok for me.
Then came The Bends. Wow. A perfect album end to end. And it bridged all the musical trends of the time. It felt equally at home with Blur, REM, The Smiths, or Nirvana. It just checked so many boxes.
The ballads were everywhere - Trees and High and Dry - I learned to play guitar to these songs. And then the video for Just... that’s still one of the greatest videos of all time, up there with the melodramatic take in U2’s All I Want is You.
I figured out all the guitar parts in Just too, not knowing about a little gizmo called the Whammy pedal that digital threw Johnny’s guitar up an octave making that monstrous squeal. By today’s standards, their equipment is rudimentary, but they pulled out so many incentive sounds from their instruments and wrapped them up in beautiful melodies.
It’s still a relatively conventional rock album but it’s just so good. And it brought together so many audiences.
There are three concerts I regret missing and this is one of them. I was old enough to see them in the next province over from me, but as I recall that gig was cancelled. When they played my province I was too young to get into the club. I saw them the next time round, but they were out of the clubs by then.
That's funny because I feel the opposite... never heard a live version that really tickled the pickle like that studio cut does!
"Planet Telex" has had some absolutely dynamite outings live, particularly on the In Rainbows tour as an encore with all the multi-colour strobe lighting; it was positively eyeball-shredding
Synths are already here ("Nice Dream" doubling the strings, there's also one in the verses of "The Bends", and the chorus of "Street Spirit") but they certainly come further to the forefront soon...
“Just” on the OKC tour was pretty massive. My brightest (no pun intended) memory from the OKC tour though was when they played “The Bends.” The 3 guitars kicked in and the brightest lights on earth shot directly into the crowd and I was floored. I think it’s been kind of forgotten just how LOUD this band can be live. When they were playing smaller indoor venues, the 3 guitar songs would shake the room.
Yes, the band in these days is all about those Pixies-esque terraced dynamics. BIG BIG choruses and endings, potentially deadly-quiet pin-drop intros and verses
For me though, in the studio they have even more of a sense of finesse, as though it's not just about dynamic changes in the volume but also in the texture and frequency range of the songs' arrangements. "Just" has an amazing variety of guitar tones on the record, it'd be near impossible to completely nail all those variations Jonny pulled out during the overdubbing process in one live performance
They filmed this in the East Bay, CA while on tour. When I was in high school I went and ate at the diner and sat in the same booth as the band.
I saw it live in Palo Alto in March 1996. I think it’s one of the first songs Thom wrote as a young kid about fear of nuclear war.
First post in this thread...
I didn't get into Radiohead until the mid 00's. I was not much of a fan of most mainstream 90's rock at the time, largely because I spent that decade getting into classic rock and progressive rock, but I eventually circled back and got into some of it, and Radiohead was the biggie for me in the summer of 2005.
Pablo Honey might be their least best album, but it's still a good record, despite a few missteps. Creep is overplayed, but it's a good tune. Favorites are probably Thinking About You, Blow Out, Ripcord and Prove Yourself.
The Bends was the 2nd album I heard by the band (after OK Computer) and it floored me. That intro to Planet Telex sucked me in right away and the journey never falters. I am not as nutty about My Iron Lung as most are (I think that and Bones are the two least best tunes here), but that's picking nits. Fake Plastic Trees never fails to give me goosebumps, and while the band may not like it much anymore, I love High and Dry. I am really high on Sulk as well, which seems to not be well loved. Street Spirit and Just are well-deserved classics as well. To me, In Rainbows and OK Computer are 1a and 1b in their history, and The Bends might very well be my number 3 album by them. It all depends on my mood as to whether I prefer it or Kid A for that 3rd slot. Either way, The Bends is great stuff.
Has anyone ever commented on the similarity of "(Nice Dream)" to "C'est extra" by Léo Ferré?
I clearly remember when Creep was a medium radio hit here in Norway (summer of '93). From the actual The Bends era I don't remember anything exept seeing Thom in some interview on MTV and overhearing some guys in my class saying how cool the album was. Took me years to actually buy it (around 2003 I think). A solid album all the way, with Street Spirit as my very favourite at the end.
I forgot to touch on High and Dry, but I still love it as much as I always did. I never got tired of it, it wasn’t really overplayed back in the day, at least not in my neck of the woods. I saw the video only a handful of times.
Anyway it’s just a very pretty piece. I’m never really sure what exactly is happening in the lyric but it doesn’t matter, the essence of the emotional content is still enchantingly transmitted.
And it’s just beautifully recorded. Stellar.
Also their first of many superbly compelling music videos. Not that I’m really into music videos as a form, but Radiohead’s are consistently well done and often very engaging.
I only heard this album much later, but I rate it highly.
I like High and Dry, My Iron Lung, and essentially it is a very solid album
Fake Plastic Trees is magnificent, and was what got me back into the band a few years after OK Computer.
I’ll bite. What’s the story here?
I do see similarity (or “inspiration”) from this 1969 song to “Nice Dream”, but is there any more backstory?
Not that I know of! It's most likely coincidence. But I can never hear one song without thinking of the other.
Oh man, I'm jealous I never saw that. Saw them play that tour at Lolla in Chicago. Great show, but no Planet Telex, sadly.
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