Radiohead – The Bends: #359 of best 1,000 albums ever!

So why is Radiohead’s The Bends on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

While I have enormous love and respect for Radiohead, I didn’t obsessively follow every move that the band made during the 1990s and 2000s as many Radiohead… heads did back in the day.

Radiohead came on the scene during my early college years, and probably like many I generally classified them as the band with that “Creep” song, which is their smash hit off of their debut album, Pablo Honey, in 1993.

By the time that The Bends came out in 1995, it was clear that Radiohead was not a one-hit wonder by any means (not all that different from how Beck quickly broke away from solely being known as the “Loser” guy). “High and Dry” seemed to be playing constantly on the radio and MTV that summer and, looking back, it’s noteworthy that at least musically, it’s one of Radiohead’s most pop-oriented songs.  

Radiohead is fascinating in its range and ambitions, and the fact that they can produce great straight-ahead rock/pop numbers makes their exceptional and wildly experimental later material on albums like OK Computer and Kid A even more remarkable.

On top of the otherworldly and textured sounds that Radiohead creates, Thom Yorke has a rangy and expressive voice that adds yet another compelling element. On “Planet Telex,” I’m struck by how Bono-ish he sounds, for example.

My favorite songs on The Bends – “Just” and “My Iron Lung” chief among them – are the ones that point in the direction of where the band is heading (spoiler: if you haven’t guessed already, there’s more Radiohead to come as the best 1,000 albums ever plunges into the Top 350).

Both of those songs are dreamy, a little bit dark, strange, and certainly unusual while still playing roughly in the alternative rock space. So unusual in fact, even at this stage in the band’s career, that Radiohead’s music sits apart as its own thing, really.

Some stats & info about Radiohead – The Bends

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, British Bands, Britpop, Alternative Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #276
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was The Bends released? 1995
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #359 out of 1,000

Radiohead’s The Bends on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Radiohead’s The Bends that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry.

What’s the most interesting thing about Radiohead’s The Bends that most people don’t know?

If the website Songfacts is to be believed, Radiohead was well aware that they had the potential to be branded as the “the Creep band” forevermore, and expressed the notion via the lyrics to “My Iron Lung,” which itself refers to, “a cumbersome medical device used to help sick people breathe in the ’50s.”

I’m not sure if this holds up, myself, as the song’s lyrics seem quite cryptic and multitextured.

Another quick sidenote on “My Iron Lung”: after listening to it a bunch of times, I realized that the chorus’ hook reminds me much of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” which was released on In Utero in 1993.

And for even more “My Iron Lung,” check out the EP of the same name, which landed at #510 of best 1,000 albums ever.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.