The stupid thing about dividing these sort of lists into decades is that you end up with only half (or even less) of a lot of bands’ careers. There is a danger to include albums by people who will go on to be, or were, great (for example, if you were doing a best albums of the 70s list, you’d include a David Bowie album or three, but if you were doing a 60s list you could live without one. And Bowie would (spoiler alert) definitely not make a best of the 90s list. Sorry, Tin Machine fans.) So yes, Survivor is a better album, with a more interesting production job, but no, that doesn’t mean The Writing’s on the Wall is on this list because of that album’s brilliance.
A bit of a dodgy mafioso impression at the start and a linking thread of ‘Thou shalt’ bits apart, The Writing’s on the Wall is great album. It’s got Bills, Bills, Bills on for goodness’ sake. What more do you want? Bug a Boo, Jumpin’ Jumpin’ and Say My Name? All on the same album? Yeah, well it does all that too. So shut up.
Actually, some of the ‘Thou shalt’ bits are good. ‘Thou shalt pay bills’ is ace. Obvs.
Is The Writing’s on the Wall better than The Bends though? Yes. Yes it is. Is it really though? Yes. Yes it really is. Did I mention The Writing’s on the Wall has Bills, Bills, Bills on it? Because it does. And Bug a Boo. And Say My Name.
I’ll happily concede that if you were making one album out of both sets of tracklists (like when the papers do one of those ‘who would get in a combined Liverpool and Everton team?’ things) you might include a Radiohead track or two. Maybe. But only if you could get Kelly Rowland to record a ‘Thou shalt not whine like a little boy’ bit for the start of it, because that would be dead funny and that.