Sound — 8
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 8
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.