Sunday, February 6, 2011

90's Jams #92: Radiohead "Black Star" (1995)

Debate is really not an issue regarding the greatest three-album-run of the past 20 years (the type that would give Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt Pepper a run for the money), without question belonging to The Bends, OK Computer and Kid A, with each sparking a different era of Britpop. A whole lot of shitty bands arrived in the aftermath of these 3 records, but the same can be said for every influential artist... Even bands as cool as The Velvet Underground or Joy Division eventually ended up influencing shit like Razorlight and Kaiser Chiefs.

So if you completely ignore Travis and Keane and James Blunt's "You're Beautiful," and instead focus on the first two Coldplay albums and "Bittersweet Symphony" and Beck's Sea Change and Arcade Fire's "We Used To Wait," its importance makes more sense... although most of these influences tend to focus on the softer side of The Bends, with less of the cathartic attack heard in "The Bends," "Just," or "My Iron Lung," which was heard more in the first few albums from Muse.

Excellently sequenced in the middle of side 2, "Black Star" splits the difference between soft and cathartic more than the rest of the album. People who really love The Bends might be aware that half of this record contains songs with the same 4 chords, and "Black Star" exploited these 4 chords to the extremes of melodrama. Emo was always best when it rocked, and this song was arguably Radiohead at their most quintessentially emo... Along with "Fake Plastic Trees," it was probably the song that caused fans to start worrying about whether Thom Yorke would be alive to record another follow-up. When is this dude gonna finally cheer the fuck up already? (He did in 2007, but it took a while...)

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