Critical acclaim Q magazines ‘Greatest Albums Ever’ readers poll 2006: #1 OK Computer Radiohead #2 The Bends Radiohead #3 Revolver The Beatles
Musical background Radiohead released the acclaimed album ‘The Bends’ at the height of ‘Britpop’in 1995. Their musical style, a blend of The Smiths and US grunge, was established with the worldwide hit ‘Creep’ in 1993: Melancholy vocals, alienated lyrics, dramatic guitar dynamics, acoustic/grunge tones.
‘High and Dry’ Intro Hip hop influenced drum beat: a syncopated resonant kick drum rather than cross stick backbeat on ‘4’. Acoustic riff played by Yorke: (‘Three Blind Mice’ 321) using A/G string octaves and open B/E strings Electric harmony riff (543) played by Greenwood with coin tremolo on telecaster
Vocal Thom Yorke favours a thin fold vocal tone that enhances the melancholic themes of his lyrics. Audible aspirate/sibilant tones. Verse melody based on descending E scale (1st 6th 5th 4rd ) over F#m7 and A chords. Resolves on the 3rd / tonic E chord. Chorus hook uses dramatic ascent from 5th to sustained high 3rd “me…..high” Yorke moves smoothly from thin fold to falsetto voice to hit high 3rd (Ab) He resolves with a melisma decay on “dr- - y”
Dynamics ‘Creep’ had exploited powerful soft/heavy dynamics. A more gradual build up is created in ‘High and Dry’. In bars 8-16 of the verse a second acoustic accents the chord changes. Selway adds light backbeat snare on both 2 & 4. A short 1/16th snare roll and bass run down (3rd 2nd 1st 6th is the transition to the chorus. The bass drops to the lower octave and O’Brian plays distorted 1/8th power chords to give the chorus a heavier texture.
Verse 2 The twin guitars plays a range of counterpoint riffs to ornament the second verse. Light treble toned tremolo riffs (Greenwood) and richer toned arpeggios (O’Brian) The band play with more attack and the tempo lifts to support the slightly more aggressive lyric: “They’re the ones who’ll spit at you… you will be the one screaming out”
Guitar solos A simple but classic guitar melody played on B string Major scale: 1st 7th repetition with passing 2nd and 6th 5thresolution High E string can be added for resonance Repeated as counterpoint in last chorus. Coda uses similar phrasing but with 4th 3rdrepetition.