OT: Is "The Bends" by Radiohead one of the best albums ever?

Submitted by wolverine1987 on May 29th, 2010 at 12:32 AM

So this opinion may be colored by the fact that I've been drinking and that friends just left after listening to the entire thing, but I am of the opinion right now that The Bends is one of the best discs ever.  While I admire Radiohead, love OK Computer and have most of their CD's, I can't say that I ever listen much to Kid A or Amnesiac.  The Bends seems to me the perfect compromise between the accessibility of their early work and the more esoteric avenues (and to me, somewhat lacking in melody) of their later stuff. What's the point?   Hmm, well I think it is, and Fake Plastic Trees is one of the best songs ever.  So there.



May 29th, 2010 at 12:44 AM ^

I created an account just to tell you that I totally agree, and I haven't even been drinking. The Bends is one of the greatest albums of my generation and in 50 years people will still be talking about it.  It's a little slice of magic. I also think the Lonesome Crowded West by Modest Mouse will go down as one of the best albums to come out of the post grundge era.


May 29th, 2010 at 12:44 AM ^

In my opinion is the best CD ever. I love Radiohead and would consider myself a huge fan. There later stuff (Kid A mainly) is too electronic for me. Pablo Honey, OK Computer and the Bends, is real rock and real music.

I challenge anyone to find a consecutive 3 songs on any album ever that is better than The Bends, High and Dry, and Fake Plastic Trees


May 29th, 2010 at 2:09 AM ^

I'll take that dare:

(1) Once, Even Flow, and Alive (Pearl Jam - Ten);

(2) Uprising, The Resistance, Undisclosed Desires (Muse - The Resistance);

(3) Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don't Look Back in Anger (Oasis - WTSMG);

(4) Take your pick of three of Black Dog, Rock N Roll, Battle of Evermore, Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin - IV);

(5) Straight Outta Compton, F$%@ tha Police, Gangsta Gangsta (NWA - Straight Outta Compton).

Those are all superior, IME.


May 29th, 2010 at 2:56 AM ^

Wish You Were Here Album:

Any combination of 3 songs in a row (1-3, 2-4 or 3-5).  I'm not aware of a more perfect album (first note to last note).


1. Shine on You Crazy Diamond (parts I-V)

2. Welcome to the Machine

3. Have a Cigar

4. Wish You Were Here

5. Shine on Your Crazy Diamond (parts VI-IX)


May 29th, 2010 at 3:07 PM ^

I'm allergic to dogs and so are my ears, so inclusion of Seamus knocks it below Wish You Were Here and Animals..  That being said, "Dogs" off Animals is one of my favorite Floyd songs (I can take a little barking in moderation).   All things considered, I think Meddle doesn't flow with absolute perfection from start to finish (like WYWH and Animals).  It's really splitting hairs. 

I would possibly concede "Echoes" as their Magnum Opus of songs, but it wanders unmusically for several minutes in the middle, so I'm not sure I would put it ahead of Shine on You Crazy Diamond (Part One) or (Part Two), which to me make better overall bookends symetrically and musically than One of These Days and Echoes.


May 29th, 2010 at 9:14 AM ^

How about, for the old-timers among us:

11. "Summertime Blues" 

12. "Shakin' All Over" 

13. "My Generation" 

14. "Magic Bus"

from the Who's "Live at Leeds"?

Or any three consecutive tracks from "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

Or, less convincingly, perhaps:

"Highway 61 Revisited"

"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"

"Desolation Row"

all from Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited"

But only if you're over 50.


May 29th, 2010 at 9:36 AM ^

Hands down, Hendrix, Are you experienced album.

Original North American Release has:

Purple Haze -> Manic Depression -> Hey Joe.     

Later in the album:

Wind Cries Mary -> Fire -> Third Stone from the Sun -> Foxy Lady -> Are you Experienced

Original UK Release has:

Foxy Lady -> Manic Depression -> Red House

1993 "Combine them both" re-release has:

Hey Joe -> Stone Free -> Purple Haze

Later in the album:

Highway Chile -> Foxy Lady -> Manic Depression -> Red House

Close 2nd place for me would be Nirvana - Nevermind.   That whole album is still fantastic.

Teen Spirit -> In Bloom -> Come As You Are -> Breed -> Lithium -> Polly -> Territorial Pissings -> Drain You -> Lounge Act -> Stay Away -> On A Plain -> Something in the way....

Oh, and if you let me use the Beatles, then it's all over:

Rubber Soul - Drive My Car -> Norwegian Wood -> You Wont' See Me -> Nowhere Man

Sgt Pepper - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band -> With a Little Help From My Friends -> Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds -> Getting Better

Abbey Road - Octopus' Garden -> I Want You -> Here comes the Sun

Let It Be - Dig A Pony -> Across the Universe -> I Me Mine

EDIT: I wont even attempt to dig into my Dylan library, because that just wouldn't be fair.


May 29th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

The Bends is a bit more straightforward and I think that is why more people like it, but for me, OK is the best disc out of an outstanding discography.  As for best three song series, OK has several:

Airbag - Paranoid Android - Subterranean Homesick Alien; Climbing Up the Walls - No Surprises - Lucky.

Dark Side of the Moon has an argument for best 3 song stretch - Time, Great Gig in the Sky, Money.  That's tough to beat.  


Edward Khil

May 29th, 2010 at 1:30 PM ^

Than OK, Computer, The Bends and In Rainbows.  I urge Wolverine1987 to take another listen to In Rainbows if he feels that the band's later recordings are lacking in melody. House of Cards has one of the prettiest melodies of all time; and the guitar work is light years ahead of The Bends' acoustic strumming.

Having said that, I agree with the other posters that several bands are standing on summits more or less as high as Radiohead's: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin...I'm leaving aside giants like the Stones and Dylan due to my personal preferences.  And many underappreciate Bowie and U2 because their more recent stuff is not quite as compelling as their amazing earlier works.

I could never pick out a best album.  MAYBE a top 25...


May 29th, 2010 at 1:15 AM ^

I prefer The Bends to every other Radiohead album.  I don't know if it's one of the best albums ever, but it's my favorite Radiohead album.  Kid A is widely thought of as their best, but I find it pretty inaccessible, and not something I want to listen to over and over.


May 29th, 2010 at 1:45 AM ^

Everyone thinks Kid A is the best album of the decade or whatever, but I really don't think its that great at all.  The Bends is better for sure, but idk if I would consider it as one of the best ever.

Big Shot

May 29th, 2010 at 1:57 AM ^

The Bends is definitely an amazing album.  My favorite album of all time is Hail to the Thief (EGD has the best avatar in the history of avatars).  The first 2 tracks of that album, "2+2=5" and "Sit down. Stand up.", are my favorite tracks ever made.


May 29th, 2010 at 1:59 AM ^

It's taking me a long time on OK Computer.  The first few times, I couldn't make out any of the lyrics and gave up after a few songs.  I had to go read the lyrics to the album and Google the thing before I even knew what it was about.  I'm forcing myself to listen to the whole album on bike rides.  I love "Subterranean Homesick Alien" and I like a few other songs on the album, but I'm not there yet on Radiohead. 


May 29th, 2010 at 2:10 AM ^

... it's interesting to reflect back on how my favorite rock music revolves around the times I spent in HS, college and during my 20s. (Probably is true for most of us.)

So for me, what comes to mind as all-time favorites in the rock genre:  Emerson, Lake and Palmer (Trilogy), Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon), Led Zeppelin IV, and The Doobie Bros. (Toulouse Street and also Minute by Minute). Honorable mention to:  Peter Frampton (Frampton Comes Alive) and Alan Parsons (I Robot). 


May 29th, 2010 at 6:56 AM ^

Radiohead album is great in its own way, their versatility is part of their talent. As one of the biggest Radiohead fan alive I concur that The Bends is one of the greatest albums of all-time. OK Computer is not far behind though.


May 29th, 2010 at 7:37 AM ^

I have to give my vote to OK Computer over The Bends.

And I agree that Wish You Were Here tops DSOTM. Seriously, if every radio station in the country agreed that they were simply NOT going to play another track off of Dark Side ever again....would anyone really say that their life was worse because of it? They aren't banning it, they aren't trashing it....they're just not going to play it anymore. Everytime a song pops up on the playlist from Dark Side, they're going to reach for Meddle or Ummugumma or Wish You Were Here instead.

Wouldn't that be nice?


May 29th, 2010 at 11:45 AM ^

Personally, The Bends is my favorite Radiohead, and squarely in my top 10 overall albums of all time. Most of my friends, most Radiohead fans, and most hipsters/critics would pick OK Computer and/or Kid A over The Bends because they are more inventive and less traditional rock and roll, but The Bends has a special place in my heart because it was the first album that really turned me on to Radiohead. As someone above mentioned, I think Hail to the Thief is hugely underrated...I might pick it as my second favorite.

I've had this conversation with a number of friends, and I really do think Radiohead is the equivalent of The Beatles and Pink Floyd of this generation. Most people love or at least appreciate them, they continue to evolve and surprise (w/out any duds) w/ every album, and they have never been compacent or sold out to the mainstream scene.

I also have lots of respect for what they did w/ In Rainbows, allowing customers to pay whatever they feel they can or would like to to download the album. Very cool, humble, socially conscious people. Wish I could say the same for Tweedy and Ryan Adams (both pretty narcissistic and tempermental).


May 29th, 2010 at 8:29 AM ^

The Bends is their most important album because it is essential to many, many people being able to understand and love OK Computer and Kid A.


Think of it as a stepping stone.


May 29th, 2010 at 8:46 AM ^

Ok computer is my number one album for so many reasons. At that time I had really heard nothing like it and I love every single album after it. I think OK computer is kind of where they found their true style. In rainbows is probably my second favorite. It blew me away again.The Bends to me is very important and easily my third fav. It really showed that they could write songs that would last forever. They have four or five truly amazing singles on the record. I was brought up on classic rock and I made my parents a copy of the bends about 6 years ago. They still rock that gem.


May 29th, 2010 at 9:34 AM ^

OK Computer, The Bends, Kid A, Amnesiac, Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows.  Thom Yorke's solo project, The Eraser.  It's all very addictive. 

Kudos to Wolverine1987 for starting this Radioead thread.  It's remarkable that The Bends was listened in a social setting.  It's been my experience you can't find more than 1 person who appreciates the music, let alone an entire group.  Maybe I need to find some new friends? 

Did anyone ever hear Thom Yorke's cover of "Wish You Were Here" he did with Sparkehorse?  It's dark, ghost-like, and beautiful.  I actually did a tribute video to Bo Schembechler with that track in the background. 

And finally, how bout their performance of "15 Step" at the Grammy's with the USC Marching Band?  Absolutely kickass. 


May 29th, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

It's hard to pick which Radiohead CD is best, almost imposible. My vote is for OK Computer

I hope they put something else out but I could also see them quiting.

Dan Man

May 29th, 2010 at 2:05 PM ^

As a music school grad (and later a UM Law graduate), I've had the "best" album debate many a time, and of course it's completely subjective.  One thing I love about Radiohead is that they are constantly pushing boundaries and challenging themselves and their listeners.  Some people love the weirder stuff (Kid A), some like the more straight ahead stuff (The Bends).  By the way, Rolling Stone said in some "all time best list" that Kid A was their best album (even though it seems to be one of their least popular).

Anyway, my favorite album is In Rainbows.  To me, it's their strongest album from begining to end, and one that pushes sonic boundaries while not sacrificing emotion.


May 29th, 2010 at 7:35 PM ^

I always felt that Radiohead could have really had an incredible double disc if they released Kid A and Amnesiac together and deleted some filler.  No one mentioned Amnesiac on here, but it is a great disc unto itself.  The music on those two records came from the same recording sessions.  Maybe eliminate Treefingers, Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors and Hunting Bears.  Replace the original Like Spinning Plates w/ the live version  and you have a double disc of 18 songs of awesome.