A brief history of my relationship with what has to be my favourite living band.
1. Pablo Honey: you bought it as a CD, cause that's what you did back in 1994 (yes, the album came out a year earlier; you've never been that quick off the draw, what can you say?). "Creep" was the hit song, the reason you bought the CD. A good tune still, though back then it could have easily been a Stone Temple Pilots song. For all you knew Radiohead were from Seattle, and there weren't two great songs on the whole album.
2. The Bends: and the world comes to understand that this is a very, very good band. Maybe the best in the world. Guitar driven, it both rocks and it also dips deep into ultra sad territory and with what has to be one of the most beautiful songs to be written in the last few decades with "Fake Plastic Trees."
3. OK Computer: The music critics got this one right away. I didn't. First few listens it was difficult, strange, a bit disturbing, nothing like the Bends. Where had the guitar driven songs gone? What had they done? Yet I knew, from the first there was beauty in there. Only the strictly guitar-listening-to fan was truly hurt, troubled, bothered, cause as with time, you came to see this was the best album of its generation. It's got it all: the complex and interesting, the gorgeously melodious, the ups, the downs. A full ride, a total album.
4. Kid A: obtuse is a good word for that first listen. It made OK Computer sound like bubble gum pop it was so awkward and tricky. As a musician friend put it, the opening track "Everything In Its Right Place" is an ironic name, since musically everything is in exactly the wrong place. I still have no idea what this means, but then, I can't play House of the Rising Sun on guitar, so why would I understand anything musically? Still, I like the idea. It makes a kind of impossible sense. And the album, too, with time, and just a hint of patience revealed its brilliance.
5. Amnesiac: neither time nor patience helped me on this one. Next.
6. Hail to the Thief: you gave it little time or patience. Radiohead's best days were now long behind them.
7. In Rainbows: in which all will be forgiven. No, perhaps they are not treading new ground. But for me this is just polished advance on OK Computer and more sonically comfortable, warmer than Kid A. It has been my favourite album since its release 3 years ago.