Radiohead – The Bends
The punchy alternative band from the UK, Radiohead, burst on the scene in 1993 with their debut album, “Pablo Honey.” Although this quintet from Oxford, England’s first album failed to find much success, the exciting young band has battled back and now has one of the most popular albums in the land. The first release off their debut CD was “Creep,” which became one of the most popular rock songs of early 1994. “I wish I was special/you’re so very special/but I’m a creep,” Yorke sings as this four-minute epic tune rolls on. “Creep” was the song that everyone seemed to be singing to themselves all day long. Despite its popularity, the rest of Radiohead’s debut album failed to produce any other song material that the band could release. In mid-1995, Radiohead released their sophomore album, “The Bends.” “The Bends” includes 11 new songs along with “My Iron Lung.” The first new release off “The Bends” was “Fake Plastic Trees,” an elegant melody that features an acoustic strum and Yorke’s beautifully written and sung lyrics. In February of 1996, Radiohead’s break finally came, with the release of “High and Dry,” a poignant acoustic ballad with an electric edge that scaled the charts and brought Radiohead to the height of their popularity. It, like “Creep,” is a punchy, catchy song that must be heard over and over, and it was. The drums, electric lead guitar, and bass, along with the acoustic guitar, play a central role in the greatness of “High and Dry,” and it is this joint effort that makes the song great. Unlike “Pablo Honey,” “The Bends” doesn’t simply contain one great song. Two other songs aid in its superiority: “Bones” and “Just.” “Just” begins as a fast-paced acoustic strum, and turns into an all-out rocker during the chorus. The blending of the acoustic back-up guitar and electric lead guitar, along with the two great electric solos, contribute to making “Just” the great song it is. The other song, “Bones,” could well be the next release for Radiohead after “High and Dry.” “Bones” begins with soaring, echoing guitars and an unequaled bass line and transforms into an all-out guitar battle in the chorus. The synthesizer is also used in “Bones,” which simply fills out the all-around sound of the song. Radiohead’s “The Bends” may not be the most popular album of 1995-96, but it definitely is a huge step in the right direction for these British musicians. “The Bends” is one of the most diverse and complete albums in recent history and it rocks from track 1 to track 12. Its mix of ballads, rock, and pop makes “The Bends” and album not to be passed by.