Radiohead‘s The Bends might seem fairly obvious in this space. It’s not an album many would have forgotten whether we mentioned it or not. It’s on a ton of “best of” lists . . . and some have it extremely well-ranked in terms of its significance. However, by comparison to its successor it’s one that could potentially be overlooked. That, friends, would be a significant omission.
The aforementioned successor, OK Computer, is widely regarded as one of the best and most influential albums of its time and, some might argue, ever. You won’t see it on any INLE Forget Me Nots because its place is cemented. That said, I think it’s important to understand how they arrived at OK Computer. The Bends, in this contributor’s opinion, is the most accessible Radiohead album to date (which is part of the reason Radiohead ran as quickly as they could for a more unique sound). From Pablo Honey to OK Computer, Radiohead traveled a significant distance in their evolution. The Bends came between and it seemed to accelerate the bands’ eventual assencion to “one of the greatest / most influential / industry and success ignoring experimentors.”
I know Radiohead isn’t for everyone. That’s part of music. Some people just aren’t going to like any of it regardless of the album, date, single, etc. However, I’ve found that all too many Radiohead skeptics arrived late and just “didn’t get it.” If OK Computer was your entrée into Radiohead, you probably moved on quickly after Paranoid Android‘s release. That makes sense. And, presumably, from that point forward you’ve probably not understood the adulation Radiohead gets in your favorite music magazine.
Our suggestion? Go back and start with The Bends (sorry, Pablo Honey). Then move through the discography. It all begins to make a little more sense. Here’s a couple to get you going.