Finally got round to updating this page.  These pages contain analysis on Radiohead artwork, and lyrical oddities on the album.  This page is for 'The Bends'.  Click here for OK Computer.

If you like these pages, here's a link to a great site all about Stanley Donwood and his work with Radiohead.  More indepth then i'll ever be.   Lovely stuff. 

Commentary on Bends artwork by Thom's friend Dan Rickwood (aka Stanley Donwood).

anbends.jpg (17674 bytes)

1.  "Thom and I only had three days left to do a cover and we just had a pile of images that were no good.  We tried to find an iron lung at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford but we ended up in the room where all the medical students practice resuscitation - that face is the head of the man they try out the kiss-of-life on.  Even though he was made of plastic he had this expression which was somewhere between agony and ecstasy which was just right for the record."

2.  "That's some people walking down a street in New Zealand.  But it's been heavily distorted so you'd hardly know.  It's another urban scene.  Radiohead are always interested in anything where technology interacts with human beings."

3. "Thom had this video of the triumphant return of soldiers after the Gulf War and there was this guy in it dressed as Captain America - but he had this huge paunch which just looked ridiculous.  So we cropped out the stomach and blew it up.  It was like a vague comment on patriotism."

4.  "That's a Japanese car salesman at work.  Thom and I distorted it really heavily but you can still see the figures on the left.   Thom's really fascinated by Japan because it's such a technological society."

5.  "That's a film of somebody being treated with those electric plates (defibrillators) that they use to try and get your heart started again."

6.  "That's an icon of the old revolving world the BBC used to use before programmes came on.  It's become a sort of Radiohead trademark - we use it on all the sleeves." (note: all Bends singles sleeves have the globe up to the Street Spirit singles.  Discontinued after.  OKC sleeves all have 'emergency exit' picture on right side of sleeve.)
(picture blocked by globe): "That's the band in an airport departure lounge.   They spend so long in those places that they were going to have a shot like that for the cover but none really stood out.  You can just about make out Thom's head at the far end." (note: FPT inlay has large version of this picture).

7.  "Those are both from a Japanese weather programme that Thom videoed."

8.  "Those are the three colours that we also used on the T-shirts for 'The Bends'."

my iron lung ep My Iron Lung
  • "This is taken from a video Thom took of a load of Japanese businessmen who apparently got out of their cars and just started walking around in circles.  It reminded him of Reservoir Dogs."
  • "The two weather symbols are from that Japanese news programme again."
high and dry High And Dry
  • "That's a close up of the chest of the same dummy we used for 'The Bends'."
  • "The diver is there because the bends is a condition which affects divers when they come out of the water."
fake plastic trees Fake Plastic Trees
  • "That's a woman from a Brazilian soap opera.  Her eyes are blacked out like they do when you're not supposed to know who somebody is, but in Brazil everybody watches the programme so would be able to tell anyway.  I think Thom liked the idea of fame mixed with anonymity."
just Just
  • "That was all shot where I used to live in Plymouth.  I just hung around the back streets with a video camera.."
  • The hands and the locks (also used on the 'Street Spirit single) show the connection between things locked together out of choice and things locked together because they just can't separate.  It's a comment on relationships.
  • "The lettering is taken from number plates, fire hydrants, street signs, and anything else I could find.  It roughly joins together to spell Radiohead." (note: also if rearranged, roughly spells out 'Paranoid Android.' well, i think so...)
street spirit Street Spirit
  • "Thom brought the escalator image back from Japan.  Again, the idea was to get across the spirit of living in late 20th century technological society."
  • ('Immerse') "That's a line from near the end of the song.   Thom had it scribbled down in his notebook, so we just took it and translated it straight onto the sleeve."
  • (Cat at top and cover of CD2) "That's Michael Caine's cat in The Italian Job.  It's one of Thom's favourite films."
    (note:  definitely my favourite RH sleeve.  The glow from the escalator is so ominous.  Very cool.)


Planet Telex: The drums on this song are drum loops made from 'left over' bits from the song 'Killer Cars' (b-side to High And Dry and Just (mogadon version).

The Bends: At the beginning, you can hear a children's marching band playing, and conductor is saying something among the lines of "Yeah, keep it up, keep it up!"  Thom was staying in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, and ran outside to record this, and it was later put on the record.

In the Answerphone packet, Thom Yorke is quoted as saying "Listen out for the recorder solo (in The Bends)," and "Listen out for the thousands of tambourines (in Sulk)." In actuality, there is no recorder solo in The Bends, it was probably mixed out of the song later on.   However, Jonny does a recorder solo on the demo version.   Also, the thousand tambourines were mixed out of Sulk too.  Thom must have a special copy of 'The Bends' that no one else has :P.

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