Ever sit back and look at your record collection of a favorite artist and consider which albums are the best? So do we! Rank & File is our way of telling you which albums are great and which ones are garbage (at least in our opinion). There are really no correct answers here, it’s all just a matter of taste, but inevitably, there will be parts of the list that you will completely disagree with, so make sure to let us know how you would rank the albums. Of course, when compiling a ranking system such as this, there have to be some guidelines in place. For Rank & File, they are:
- No E.P.’s (with rare exception)
- No Singles
- No live albums
- No remix albums
- If an artists discography is huge (i.e. Rolling Stones, Prince) only the top 5 will make the cut.
I don’t think there’s much that I could say or write about Radiohead that hasn’t already been said. Really. Sometimes I love this band, sometimes I hate ’em. They do always keep me guessing though, so I suppose that’s why I keep coming back. OK, on to the rankings!
5. Kid A (2000):
In high school, I used to make my friend drive me to the record store during our lunch break on Tuesdays to go pick up new releases. I remember how excited I was for this album to come out. I had looked forward to it for months! I anxiously grabbed the album and listened to it on the way back to school (about a 15min. drive). By the time we had gotten back, I was convinced that the album was not the right one. Could they have fucked up and switched the Radiohead record with another band’s album in the processing plant? Did they accidentally release a remix album? What the fuck? In the time since, I’ve certainly grown to appreciate this album. There are some incredible tracks on it, but overall it just didn’t measure up to OK Computer. Not even close. After the purchase and listening of Kid A that day, my friend wouldn’t drive me to the record store on Tuesdays, in fear that I would make him listen to more “bullshit” as he would say. Man, talk about a let down.
4. Amnesiac (2001):
By the time this album came out, I already knew what to expect from the “new” Radiohead. The shock from Kid A had worn off a bit and I was a little more receptive to this album as a whole. Continuing where it’s predecessor left off, Amnesiac was a challenging (albeit rewarding) record at best. I feel like the album starts off really great, but looses steam halfway through. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had the urge to listen to the entire record from beginning to end. There’s just too much filler material towards the end. “Like Spinning Plates” is a flat out horrible song. (note: if you like books, check out the limited edition physical version of the album. Really really cool packaging.)
3. Hail To The Thief (2003):
This is the album that I was looking forward to hearing after OK Computer. It certainly incorporates some of the more experimental sounds that they would become known for, but it still rocks. To me, this record sounds like a band that is playing the music the way they want, without worrying about outside pressure. Instead of following up two (very fucking strange) records with a predictable album, they made Hail To The Thief, which is simultaneously more accessible but challenging to the listener. That to me is what makes this album so much fun to listen to.
2. The Bends (1995):
The Bends came out when I was still pretty young. At the time, I was just learning my way around “rock” music. Sure, I really dug bands like R.E.M. and Nirvana, but I had yet to start discovering anything new or relatively unknown. I can’t remember the exact time I first heard this record, but I know that I originally heard it through my stepbrother Rob. One of the first times I heard it was when we were sitting in our parents car while they were in the store, and he put on the song “Just”. I remember him flailing around like a retard and rocking out really fucking hard. I didn’t really think it was anything spectacular, but I always thought that he had cool taste in music and I figured that if he really liked it that much, I should at least check it out. I got the album not too long after that, and I was hooked! It’s strange going back and listening to this record now though, knowing what Radiohead has become. It’s really strange to hear them write and perform fairly straightforward rock n roll songs without all the extra bullshit they began to surround themselves with. Also, The Bends ends with the song “Street Spirit” which is probably the best album closer of the bands career.
1. OK Computer (1997):
Picking this for the number 1 spot was kind of a no brainer for me. OK Computer is one of a very select number of albums (that I own) that is truly enjoyable from beginning to end. The leadoff track “Airbag” is one of my favorite songs by Radiohead overall. It’s the perfect beginning to an amazing record. What makes this album so special is that it combines the rock elements of their earlier efforts with the electronic overtones and atmospheric sounds that would dominate their records from the 2000’s on. It really is the perfect mix of sounds and emotions too. Regardless of background or musical taste, I think there is something that everyone can relate to on this album whether it’s musical or lyrical.
Just Missed The Cut: Pablo Honey (1993), In Rainbows (2007), The King of Limbs (2011)
Note: Back when I first started writing the Rank & File column, I would write about a bands entire discography. Before long, I realized that for many bands, it was just too much material to cover, so I scaled it back to my five favorite albums. In the original R&F for Radiohead, I talked some shit about their last record The King of Limbs. I posted to the bands forum to connect with other fans and get their opinions, and lo and behold, this was one of the responses I received…
Pretty awesome right? I think it’s safe to say I won’t be getting on any guest lists in the near future!
What do you think? How would you rate the Radiohead albums? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to follow Gutter Bubbles on Facebook and Twitter!