Radiohead are seen by many to be one of the UK’s finest groups of the last few decades. They’ve had massive hits right from their first album and haven’t been afraid to completely change direction from record to record. Not only are Radiohead undoubtably one of the world’s most interesting and unique groups, they have a fanbase more passionate than 99% of bands on the planet. So, this is bound to split opinion and be very controversial, but at the end of the day it’s all about opinion. So, let us know what you agree and what you disagree with in the comments below this post.
9) Pablo Honey
The group’s first record still stands up as a decent indie-sounding album that could happily sway side by side with a lot of brit-pop albums of the 90s. ‘Creep’ is the second track on Pablo Honey and it’s certainly one of the band’s most defining moments and in my opinion, still one of their greatest songs. This isn’t Radiohead at their most creative, but more of a simplified version of the great band that we’ve all come to know and love. Still, the album is certainly an enjoyable listen and has a strong nostalgic element to it. ‘Anyone Can Play Guitar’ stands out as being an example of where the band would ultimately go on sophomore record, ‘The Bends’. Pablo Honey is at the bottom of the pack, but on a list of records this strong, it isn’t really such a bad place to be.
8) King of Limbs
King of Limbs was quite a change of pace for the group when it was released in 2011. It’s the shortest Radiohead record to date and shows off one of the stranger sides of the band’s songwriting. It is without doubt an experimental album, but it doesn’t always shine as brightly as it could. Tracks ‘Lotus Flower’ and ‘Give Up The Ghost’ really stand out as high points on the album; both are completely different, but ultimately show the variety of the band’s musical output. Although, a lot of the tracks don’t feel fleshed out enough to allow the record to outdo most of Radiohead’s discography. King of Limbs is definitely worth a listen to see the group at one of their most unique points.
Lots of the songs on Amnesiac were recorded in the same sessions as the band’s much-loved Kid A, which was released the year before. Following up that album would obviously be no easy task but the band gave it a fairly good effort with this album. Though it can feel like more of a Kid A afterthought at times, some of the material on here is fantastic. ‘Pyramid Song’ is a stunning composition that always feels like one of Radiohead’s most epic moments when you hear it. This record is dark in tone and lyrical content and it times it shows off Thom’s vocal range better than any album the band have released to date. ‘Knives Out’ is one of the more instantaneous sounding songs on the record and an absolute alternative triumph. But, at times the tracks on the record are a little too repetitive for their own good and that ultimately stops it from climbing any higher on this list.
6) In Rainbows
I can already hear so much of Radiohead’s fanbase screaming at their computer screens at the positioning of this particular record. While I completely understand the love for In Rainbows, I don’t agree with those that see it as the group’s best record. I think the band have done a better job of taking the listener away to another place on multiple albums. I do, however, believe that this record has some fantastic moments on it. The album is produced brilliantly and always sounds top notch in terms of quality and vibrancy. ‘Reckoner’ is one of the finest moments of Radiohead’s entire career. The track is simply beautiful and it’s undeniably one of Thom Yorke’s best vocal deliveries on record. In Rainbows has so many of these moments throughout it’s track listing and the record is undeniably one of the bands most consistently exciting pieces of work to date. The album is brilliant and as I say, I completely understand the overwhelming love for it. I just can’t bring myself to position it any higher on this particular list.
5) Hail to the Thief
Hail to the Thief is a record of great highs and thrilling, excitement. ‘There There’ for example, is a song that shows off the melodic rock Radiohead employ so fantastically when they want to. Despite my use of the word ‘melodic’ they still deliver the track with a much-needed edge, attacking it from an angle only they could. ‘Where I Begin You End’ is a punchy, experimental song that succeeds greatly in creating an alternative, unusual, manic sound. But, tunes such as ‘A Punch Up at a Wedding’ feel less inspired and just lack that secret ingredient that takes other Radiohead albums to the next level. A great effort from the band, a very powerful sounding album. It just doesn’t quite grasp the highs of the band’s greatest work.
4) A Moon Shaped Pool
When A Moon Shaped Pool was released in 2016, it was seen as a return to a previous, greater form for the band. The 11 tracks capture a mood so successfully and fantastically. From a lyrical standpoint, it’s an album with much sorrow and regret, but ultimately finds itself with so many players of complexity, as many of the groups’ records do. ‘Burn The Witch’ is a thumping opener that’s relentless in its execution; ‘True Love Waits’ is gorgeous and shows of Thom’s vocal vulnerability perfectly. The album has many different shades but it shows the maturity of a group that can still make fantastic records after being together for so long.
3) The Bends
Radiohead’s sophomore record ‘The Bends’ had all the evidence we needed to see the potential of the group’s creative flair when it was released in 1995. The sound of the record is much more immediate and rockier than a lot of the work that eventually followed and therefore is widely seen as more accessible and easy to grasp than much of the band’s later work. Songs ‘Just’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ and ‘High and Dry’ would all become huge hits for the group and really helped to flush the album with radio-friendly rock music. Although, it’s in the record’s more ambitious moments, where it captures your imagination the most. ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ for instance is a phenomenal song; without question the best closer on a Radiohead record to date.
2) Kid A
Kid A really seemed to introduce the group to electronic sounds, but they didn’t delve too far into them, as to lose their identity. This record is excellent on all levels. The album opener ‘Everything in its Right Place’ is the finest opening track of the band’s discography. This record belongs in everyone’s record collection. It’s unique in its execution, masterfully produced, vocally endearing and without fault in any aspect. The songwriting is unlike anything that came before it and it most certainly inspired the next generation of rock bands. Also, ‘How To Disappear Completely’ might just be Radiohead’s greatest track; it’s an amazing example of how this group can teleport the listener to another world.
1) OK Computer
Radiohead’s masterpiece. A simply stunning album and one of the best of its generation. It explores so many different avenues throughout it’s tracklisting and doesn’t disappoint on a single moment of the runtime. OK Computer is the most complete and defining moment in the group’s discography. It has so many amazing tracks: ‘Karma Police’, ‘Exit Music’ and ‘Paranoid Android’ just to name a few. The album is so moody and ambitious that it simply cannot be beaten by anything else in Radiohead’s back-catalogue. Speaking of musical ambition, ‘Paranoid Android’ is practically four songs rolled into one; it’s Radiohead’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The group’s most beloved album and it’s clear to see why. Simply amazing.