The Bends (Special Collector's Edition) Review

artist: radiohead date: 04/06/2009 category: compact discs
radiohead: The Bends (Special Collector's Edition)
Released: Mar 24, 2009
Genre: Rock
Label: Capitol
Number Of Tracks: 33 on 2 disks
The reissue of 1995s The Bends is a reminder of the huge musical leaps that Radiohead made within the course of a few years.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 8.5
 Overall rating:
 9 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.7 
 Users rating:
 9.2 
 Votes:
 30 
reviews (2) 23 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8
The Bends (Special Collector's Edition) Reviewed by: sweetpeasuzie, on april 01, 2009
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: Radiohead's label, Capitol/EMI has released a Special Collector's Edition of the band's critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Bends. The collection contains 2 CDs. The first disc is the band's original studio album, The Bends released in 1995 with a second disc containing the B-sides to the album's singles that included My Iron Lung, High And Dry/Planet Telex, Fake Plastic Trees, and Street Spirit (Fade Out) and additional recordings of the band's live performances from the BBC Session recorded on April 14, 1994. Critics sometimes say that the B-sides and EP rarities are often better than the album, and in this case, it is true. It is the second disc that makes this collection worth the price. The hypnotic sway of the guitar sweeps in Bishops Robes are dreamy as the swirl of orchestral strings and lightly billowing bass drum echoes possess a whiff of experimental rock. It is almost like the original album is the standard set by the label and radio brass, but the B-sides give the band a certain level of freedom to explore outside the strictures of alternative rock, which makes their music even more appealing like the spiky electronica effects spearing through Banana Co and the pop-up of guitar effects that produce shimmery rivulets along Killer Cars. The second disc gives fans a deeper look into Radiohead's repertoire and shows that they are capable of much more than what commercial radio stations have played from them. The songs on The Bends impress a doomy and gloomy outlook on life, but the album's B-sides pull the band out of that despair and into more uplifting scores and mellifluous landscapes. The band's BBC Session includes live performances of Just, Maquiladora, Bones, and the majestic guitar spins of Street Spirit (Fade Out). The second disc shows another side of the band that completes the picture. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics take parcels from the mundane world and use them as symbols to convey universal meanings like in Banana Co, with verses like: Oh Banana Co. / We really love you and we need you / And oh banana co. / We'd really love to believe you / But everything's underground / We gotta dig it up somehow. The words are open-ended. They can mean something different to each individual, which is the attractiveness of Radiohead's lyrics, they can be interpreted in many different ways. The lyrics describe human desires and tap into fears like in Bishop's Robes with lines like: Children taught to kill / To tear themselves to bit's / On playing fields / Dressed in bishop's robes / I'm not going back. People can relate to these lyrics, feel like they can identify with the circumstances and have a memory of being put into these types of situations. No matter how obscure the metaphors are, they connect with people on a broad scale. // 8

Overall Impression: Radiohead's new release, The Bends: Special Collector's Edition offers fans a deeper look into this band and their music. Believed to have been spawned by the seeds of U2 and pollinated with the spoors of Pink Floyd and My Bloody Valentine, Radiohead never needed to work too hard to draw in fans. Their music was made of everything that appealed to the masses, and opening for R.E.M To support The Bends in 1995 skyrocketed them to rock star status. The band was formed in 1988 while vocalist/guitarist Thom Yorke, guitarist/backup vocalist Ed O'Brien, guitarist Jonny Greenwood, bassist Colin Greenwood, and drummer Phil Selway were students at Oxford University. Though many of the band members have released solo albums and worked on different music projects over the years, none of them can severe themselves from being a member of Radiohead or the music that became associated with them. Radiohead changed rock music's landscape and influenced the direction of experimental rock. // 8

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overall: 9.3
The Bends (Special Collector's Edition) Reviewed by: UG Team, on april 06, 2009
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: With the reissue of Radiohead's first 3 albums Pablo Honey, The Bends, and OK Computer, it becomes distinctly obvious just how far the British alternative group came in the course of just a few releases. The most evident musical leap arrives with the second record The Bends, an album credited with changing the course of alternative music. Whether or not you assign that much responsibility to the album, The Bends still does what many albums are unable to accomplish balancing melody with instrumental inventiveness. The 2-disk reissue of The Bends features the original release, as well as 21 bonus songs that had previously been B-sides, acoustic takes, or BBC Sessions. While many of Pablo Honey's reissue highlights come from the second disk, The Bends' original 12 tracks are still the driving force. From the opening track Planet Telex, it's evident that guitarists Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, and Thom Yorke have delved deeply into the world of effects. The heavy digital delay heard on the first track and so many others are one aspect that builds the huge wall of sound on the record. My Iron Lung marks one of the huge standouts on the album, accentuating all the best about Radiohead, whether that be the unusual effects, the interaction between the guitars and vocals, or the explosive finale. Apparently Radiohead felt extreme pressure/stress while making the album, namely because there was a push to live up to the success of Creep. Whatever went down in the recording studio worked tenfold, as the band has a stronger sense of melody all the way across. It's readily apparent in the stripped-down singles High And Dry or Fake Plastic Trees, but even the bigger productions show off the band's songwriting prowess. Another story says that Yorke recorded the vocal track for Fake Plastic Trees directly after seeing Jeff Buckley, known for his cherubic vocals, perform in concert. Whatever Yorke's influence, the album thrives on the singer's falsetto, which peaks in the haunting Street Spirit (Fade Out). The rarer tracks on the second disk are no throwaways, and it's pretty amazing how B-sides could match the quality of some of the singles. Included in the extra material are various B-side songs from the EP singles My Iron Lung, High And Dry/Planet Telex, Fake Plastic Trees (several acoustic tracks are featured on this selection), Street Spirit (Fade Out), as well as 4 songs recorded during a BBC Session from 1994. At the top of the list are the Middle-Eastern-tinged Molasses and the mid-tempo India Rubber, which features harmonies that show off Yorke's lower vocal range. // 9

Lyrics: Radiohead didn't just leave the musical comfort zone on The Bends. The lyrical content is no longer quite as focused on internal conflict (I.e., Creep), and instead takes an outward glance. The focus is much more on those with hang-ups around Yorke, whether it's in High And Dry (Two jumps in a week; I bet you think that's pretty clever don't you boy; Flying on your motorcycle: Watching all the ground beneath you drop), or Just (Don't get my sympathy; Hanging out the 15th floor; Changed the locks three times; He still comes reeling through the door). Regardless of who the songs are about, it's the overall lyrical layout that set songs truly apart from Radiohead's previous works. // 10

Overall Impression: Plenty of time has passed since it's release in the mid-90s, but it's hard to not once again be impressed by The Bends. The record didn't receive quite as many accolades as it's successor OK Computer, but it did mark a turning point for Radiohead. The band no longer relies on the traditional rock song format, and in many ways The Bends is fueled by those quiet, introspective numbers. Yes, there does seem to be a huge increase in the amount of effects used, but for every sonic-sounding tune there is a stripped-down acoustic. The original record is powerful enough to make the reissue memorable, but when you have bonus tracks that could stand on their own, it only reinforces why Radiohead has the clout that it does today. // 9

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