Radiohead The Bends, 1995
I came to Radiohead via OK Computer. I loved the video for "Paranoid Android" and really really loved the whole album.
I found a book called Radiohead: Hysterical and Useless which was published in 1999 and recounted their history up through OK Computer and it was a fascinating read.
Unsurprisingly, the book covered a lot about the album before OK Computer, The Bends. The way the author and the band talked about the songs, it sounded amazing. I was visiting my Dad in Boston at the time, so we took on a mission to go around to as many record stores as it took to find this album. And it took more than two. It was an age before iTunes allowed for instant gratification the way it does today.
Well, the album was even more amazing than described! And it turned out that I'd heard a song from it, "High and Dry" many times on DC101. I just never knew it was Radiohead! It was quite the revelation.
I was surprised when I determined that this was my favorite Radiohead album, but I guess it makes sense. It has all of their weirdness, all of their softness, and all of their hard rocking guitar-ness. It's kind of a blueprint for everything they'd done before and everything they've done since.....except maybe Kid A. That album, I'm convinced, was given to them by God or aliens or something out of this world.
It was incredibly tough to pick feature songs from this album. I decided to include a softer song ("Black Star") and a harder song ("Just") and to include the single that Cher in Clueless referred to as "the maudlin music of the University station" and "cry-baby music", "Fake Plastic Trees" (It's apparently Clueless week....for these two days (Yesterday and Today).)
Radiohead - Just
Radiohead - Black Star
You can buy The Bends at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes