Happy Anniversary: Radiohead, The Bends
19 years ago today, Radiohead released their sophomore album, signaling a shift away from the grungy sounds of their debut, Pablo Honey, and into more experimental musical territory. Mind you, listeners had no clue just how experimental things were destined to get over the course of the next couple of years, but that’s a discussion for another time. For now, let’s just focus on The Bends.
Although The Bends was produced by John Leckie, it’s the album’s producer, Nigel Godrich, whose way with a console clearly made a much greater impact on the band, as they secured his services as producer for 1997’s OK Computer and have continued to utilize him in that capacity for every album since. Leckie did a fine job as a transitional producer, however, helping the band’s evolution by helming the sessions which brought us “My Iron Lung,” “High and Dry,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Jut,” and “Street Spirit (Fade Out).”
Although The Bends wasn’t a huge commercial success in the U.S. its initial release, only hitting #88 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, the band was provided with a major pulpit for their music when they were selected as one of the opening acts for R.E.M.’s 1995 tour. Athens, Georgia’s favorite sons weren’t the only ones to fall for the album: it’s since been cited by The Guardian as one of the 50 albums that changed music, Rolling Stone listed it as #110 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and in 2000, it came in at #2 – behind only the Beatles’ Revolver – on Virgin’s Top 1000 Albums of All Time.
Clearly, this is an album anniversary worth celebrating.