It wasn't until a few years later, when I was in college and OK Computer was making waves (though, again, I didn't have much interest), that a good friend and dorm-mate of mine lent me a copy of The Bends, and even then the album took a while to sink in as I kept it over a winter break, before I was able to tell my friend that I thought it was "a really good straightforward rock album" (I was a total jazz nerd at the time, so I'm not even sure how much of a complement this was)
Those were days of smuggled Everclear clandestinely added to coke bottles and pot smoke blown out the window through "sploofs" (dryer sheets stretched over toilet paper tubes), of staying up until 4am playing Bond or talking agitatedly about what we believed to be "philosophy".
Wish You Were Here or High and Dry or Fade Out were guaranteed dorm singalong hits and we'd bang them out on our guitars in the lounge for the 40th time, laughing along with everyone while scowling at them inside for being such suckers.
Seven years later I've matured somewhat and Radiohead hasn't, and neither has my friend, who is basically "lost" to drugs and self-abuse.
But The Bends, inexplicably, remains standing, has grown in stature for me. It's my favorite Radiohead album by a mile, and one of my favorite albums period.
I want to live and breatheI want to be part of the human race.
I sometimes think that journalists were so quick to declare the "death of irony" because they were already longing for its death. It was the End of History and a college student's biggest worry, more than ever, seemed to be ennui.
I'm lying in a bar with my drip feed ontalking to my girlfriend waiting for something to happenI wish it was the sixtiesI wish I could be happyI wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen.
And something did happen - hard not to think of that event as the drums and guitars build after the word "happen".
I don't know if I can take this "theme" any further, but I listened to The Bends on a bad cassette today for the first time in a long time, and it was as incredible as ever, and then got really sad when I couldn't find my CD copy and then got sad to think about the friend that I've essentially let go, who's become more or less dead to me, especially after I found out that he beat up his (now ex) girlfriend, who is a friend of mine.
The Bends is relentlessly good, at least until the last song (which is usually where I fade out as well.) And strangely, it manages to be so relying heavily on songs with similar chord progressions (The Bends, Bones, Black Star, and Sulk are all variations on the classic D-C-G combo) and stylistic similarities -- never through out the album, in spite of this, do I ever feel like any song is just a rehash of the idea on another song.
Indeed, any of the first five songs sound like they'd make great album openers. And by song #10, it's almost baffling to hear a song as great as Black Star, not to mention that it's followed up by Sulk
You're so prettyWhen you're on your kneesDisaffected and eager to please
In fact two of the album's best-known songs (High and Dry, Fake Plastic Trees) are more or less overshadowed by the rest of the album, and even those are pretty good.
Jonny Greenwood's noisy noodling is given its place yet still kept in check enough to keep the album palatable (and believe me, I'm not entirely against bloat and pretension - I'm a Yes fan, for crying out loud!) And may I add that the drumming is sick.
Why, oh why, have I written such a long, rambling paean to The Bends? Being stuck at home with a sixpack of Anchor Steam probably helps to explain it. I raise an Anchor Steam to you, Radiohead-of-1995. May you remain frozen in time forever!
― Hurting (Hurting), Sunday, 18 September 2005 03:11 (7 years ago) Permalink
― keith m (keithmcl), Sunday, 18 September 2005 03:36 (7 years ago) Permalink
My not-so-secret fave on the album is "Nice Dream."
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 18 September 2005 03:50 (7 years ago) Permalink
Oh and Radiohead more like Turn Your Radio Off!
― ESTEBAN BUTTEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, Sunday, 18 September 2005 03:52 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Alex in NYC (vassifer), Sunday, 18 September 2005 12:12 (7 years ago) Permalink
― mark p (Mark P), Sunday, 18 September 2005 12:19 (7 years ago) Permalink
The courage? Is The Bends considered embarassing or something?
― Alex in NYC (vassifer), Sunday, 18 September 2005 12:24 (7 years ago) Permalink
By the way, my second favorite Radiohead album is Amnesiac, so I'm hardly a purist regarding the "straight ahead rock" thing. Kid A bores me a little, and OK Computer is pretty good but no Bends. Still not that familiar with Hail to the Thief.
― Hurting (Hurting), Sunday, 18 September 2005 12:56 (7 years ago) Permalink
Anyway, The Bends sort of sucks compared to all other RH albums (yeah, including Pablo Honey), but it's still pretty great. The singles are among my favorite Radiohead songs ever (including FPT, my all-time fav) but there's a ton of shit like "Sulk," "Bones," "Black Star" and to a much lesser extent, "The Bends". "Nice Dream," "Planet Telex" and "Bulletproof" are the only pretty good album tracks on that thing.
― The Good Dr. Bill (The Good Dr. Bill), Sunday, 18 September 2005 13:11 (7 years ago) Permalink
I used to like "Street Spirit" until it became the "Wonderwall" of Radiohead songs i.e. the one most likely to be sung-along badly to by obnoxious, drunk fans (as I witnessed at one Radiohead gig).
― Roz (Roz), Sunday, 18 September 2005 13:28 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Sunday, 18 September 2005 13:32 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Hurting (Hurting), Sunday, 18 September 2005 13:37 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Hurting (Hurting), Sunday, 18 September 2005 13:38 (7 years ago) Permalink
(Clever but brutal, mark.)
― Sundar (sundar), Sunday, 18 September 2005 14:01 (7 years ago) Permalink
Yeah, "Creep" is probably the better candidate. I was just still thinking of those idiots who ruined "Street Spirit" for me.
Plus, Radiohead don't play "Creep" all that much. Didn't really notice anyone singing along to "Fake Plastic Trees" and if they did, they never went "Fayyyyyyyyyyyyyy-douuuuuuuuttttt-AGGAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNN!!!!!" I just can't listen to those arpeggios anymore without hearing this in my head. :(
― Roz (Roz), Sunday, 18 September 2005 14:26 (7 years ago) Permalink
-- mark p (mark.p****...), September 18th, 2005.
Is there some unwritten rule that you can't do an "In Praise Of" on an album that's already highly regarded?
― Hurting (Hurting), Sunday, 18 September 2005 14:29 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 18 September 2005 14:32 (7 years ago) Permalink
I like his flow on "Where do we go from here?/The words are coming out all weirdwhere are you nowwwwhen I neeed you".
― Sundar (sundar), Sunday, 18 September 2005 14:34 (7 years ago) Permalink
Better than I thought...I hated it the first time around. I was too cool for it, but I sure got my comeuppance.
― โตเกียวเหมียวเหมียว aka It's My Fucking Ferrari (Mount Cleaners), Friday, 14 September 2012 13:24 (9 months ago) Permalink