Oct 23, 2005

fear of failure

Sometimes I'm amazed at how long I've gone without purchasing 'OK Computer' and 'The Bends' from Radiohead. Like most people my first introduction was through 'Creep' back in 1993 or so. I liked the song but not enough to actually buy the album. A peripheral friend of mine from way back, with a distinctly unique ability to spot completely unknown bands who are stunning, mentioned them to me shortly after the song came out. The number of recommendations from this guy that are in my "top 10 albums of all time" list numbers around 4. That's a hell of a track record considering I have only spoken to this guy maybe 10 times in my whole life. Unfortunately I just blew off the recommendation.

It wasn't until I saw them on Saturday Night Live after 'Kid A' was released that I become interested. And with each subsequent release I realized the hype and praise placed on them is entirely deserved. I can't think of another band that comes close to them in terms of orginal output. It's no mystery why they end up somewhere in the top 10 of Pitchfork Media's top 100 albums lists.

In particular they hold the top spot in Pitchfork's top 100 of 1990 list with 'OK Computer'. And that's not particularly surprising because that album is on many a "top XXX" list. And if it's not 'OK Computer' it's the 'The Bends' album. And amazingly I haven't owned either of these albums until a few weeks ago. Why would I hold off on buying these albums? Laziness? Too poor? No. I frankly was just scared to death of the expectations that had been set for these two albums. I've listened to too many bands and been let down too many times by their 'big' album to bother counting. The most vivid is U2's 'Joshua Tree' which is so highly thought of but is a complete failure as is all their subsequent material. I couldn't take that kind of failure here. It's too maddening.

Regardless, I said screw it and ordered them when I realized they had just gone into the studio and their next album was going to be a while. So how are they? These two quotes sum them up.
"'OK Computer' is like tossing David Bowie, old U2 (note: I like the use of 'old' here), Spacehog and lots of Pink Floyd into a blender and pushing the 'Kill' button." - Pitchfork
"If you're Christian and seeking God. Seek 'The Bends'. He talked to me through this album. No Joke." - Amazon reviewer

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