R.E.M. is the original alternative rock band. Their first album, 1983′s Murmur, transformed the post-punk, underground college-rock era into brand new genre: What you take for granted as alternative rock was essentially created out of whole cloth by R.E.M.

I was a huge R.E.M. fan in grad school, and their first few albums were enormously powerful and influential.

They came up in conversation with an old friend recently, who noted that the band just released its 14th album, “Accelerate.”

Most of you young’uns probably are familiar with the band’s later bigger commercial hits — “Losing My Religion, Shiny Happy People, Everybody Hurts, Stand, etc.”  That stuff is all good for what it is — better than most of the pop on the radio at the same time, anyway.

But if you really want to delve into this seminal and influential band’s best work, you need to go back to 4 of their first 5 albums.

Genius lay that way.

A little context: In 1983, the US Stock market had just awoken from a 16 year slumber. Reagan was President, polyester had not yet gone away. The movie Saturday Night Fever was still relatively fresh in people’s minds, and there was plenty of Disco on the air, along with Journey, Boston, and Foreigner. It was an ugly, if simpler, time.

Along comes R.E.M., from of all places Athens, GA. Murmur broke boundaries, and literally created a new genre. The music lay somewhere between the jangling guitar work of the 1960s bands (Beatles, Byrds), with a drive that was not unlike later bands (Clash, Patti Smith).

I was surprised to see that the CDs of both Murmur and Reckoning are $7.97 at Amazon. It is long overdue for the music industry to use dynamic pricing on the back catalogues of artists. I suspect, however, they are a decade too late, and have already lost a generation of CD buyers.

R.E.M. was overtly political. Their songs were barbed attacks on
the status quo, hidden beneath hauntingly beautiful melodies, arcane lyrical language, driving drumbeats, jangly guitars, and
mumbled vocals. It was a completely idiosyncratic approach, but  it worked well.

What stood out most of all were their collections of
songs, alternatively beautiful and compelling. Dramatic structures, majestic melodies, lush vocal harmonies and somewhat archaic language combined for a unique sound.

Document The band became a critical darling, and sold increasingly well. Each subsequent album sharpened the band’s focus, and saw their writing become increasingly layered and complex, culminating in the tight, driving rock of Document. This was the album that catapulted R.E.M. from college radio favorites to mainstream stardom — and with good cause, too. It also marked their critical (but not their commercial) peak.

A recent WSJ piece noted the commercial decline:

“It has been a long, slow fade for a band that came to be known both as one of the founders of alternative rock and one of the genre’s most bankable names. Its 1996 contract turned out to be the high-water mark of a five-year frenzy of wildly expensive superstar contracts across the music industry, whipped up by interlabel bidding wars and CD sales’ seemingly boundless potential for growth. Most of these deals, such as Sony Music’s $60 million contract with Michael Jackson in 1991, and Virgin’s $70 million 1996 pact with his sister Janet, proved overly optimistic about the commercial prospects of artists who were past their prime.”

That sound about right. None of these artists have since achieved any level of their former commercial — or critical — success.

I hope REM breaks the streak. I have yet to hear the entire new album, Accelerate, but the first single, “Supernatural Superserious”  is encouraging. Reviews have generally been positive, calling the album R.E.M.’s “most relevant in years.”

Must Own Albums:

Murmur (1983)

Reckoning (1984)

Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)

Document (1987)

New Album

Accelerate (2008)

Videos after the jump . . .

Videos:

“Supernatural Superserious,” from R.E.M.’s new album, Accelerate

Supernatural_superserious

Radio Free Europe (on Letterman)

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine…)

Losing My Religion

Man on the Moon

~~~

Out  of Time was the bands best-selling (but by no means best) album. Sales have been downhill ever since.

Rem_20080327210413

Sources:

REM Official Website

http://remhq.com/index.php

REM Wikipedia Entry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.E.M.

Concert Project

http://www.NinetyNights.com/

R.E.M. Attempts to ‘Accelerate’
The Veteran Rock Band, Facing Fleeing Fans, Ramps Up Its Publicity
ETHAN SMITH
WSJ, March 28, 2008; Page W6

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120666540285170459.html

Category: Digital Media, Music

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

51 Responses to “Friday Night Jazz Alt-Rock: R.E.M.”

  1. Asshat says:

    Love ya Barry – but what? No mention of The Replacements as founders (part of a BIG group including, Butthole Surfers, Husker Du etc. – don’t make me go back to Iggy!). If you are not familiar with The Replacements, lemme know and I will point you in the right direction for your listening pleasure.
    Thanks for the blog and the Friday Night levity.

  2. sport says:

    I loved REM pre 1988/through Document.

    I remember first time I heard Driver 8. Driving to Clarkson University on CHOM FM out of Montreal. I had chills.

    There was an excellent REM cover band in Potsdam, Gigolo Aunts. They went on to do their own stuff but had REM nailed in 1985.

  3. sport says:

    I loved REM pre 1988/through Document.

    I remember first time I heard Driver 8. Driving to Clarkson University on CHOM FM out of Montreal. I had chills.

    There was an excellent REM cover band in Potsdam, Gigolo Aunts. They went on to do their own stuff but had REM nailed in 1985.

  4. HankP says:

    Barry, I hate to be a nitpicker but the Clash and Patti Smith were certainly not “later bands”, they had already done their best and most influential work by 1983. I’d say R.E.M. was more of a commercial version (not in a derogatory way) of the “college rock” that had started percolating up in the late 70s.

    R.E.M. was a necessary precursor for the grunge explosion of the early 90s, though.

  5. DiggerDan says:

    Please.

    REM was a joke of a band with a bunch of femanized wimps whining and crying.

  6. Asshat says:

    HankP
    I think what Barry meant by “later bands” was that they were later than the Beatles and the Byrds.
    But he can answer for himself – and he had better concur or he can’t talk rock anymore.

  7. DonkeyKong says:

    Add Dead Letter Office to the list of must have albums. “Windout” is a punk/surfer masterpiece, and they slapped the EP Chronic Town on the tail end of the album.

  8. MitchN says:

    Barry, I think what DiggerDan meant when he wrote “REM was a joke of a band with a bunch of femanized wimps whining and crying” is: I have no idea what I’m talking about.

  9. Diarmuid says:

    I often skip the Friday night jazz section but REM have a sound and quality that appeals to all. Unquestionable talent and a great call by Barry :)

    You could have renamed this weeks Friday Night Jazz to…..Friday Night Swimming …. arguably REM’s finest hour

  10. Puzzled says:

    The fifth must own REM is their EP released prior to Murmur. Not a stretch to suggest that it has all been downhill since that first release, though the rate of descent barely perceptible in the first couple of years.

  11. p.a. says:

    as someone already mentioned, their ep chronic town is good, and contains their 1st national (college radio) hit, ‘carnival of sorts (boxcars)’. don’t underestimate ‘fables of the reconstruction/reconstruction of the fables’,
    a fine album.

  12. philip says:

    There is good stuff in the later albums (though I have declined to buy anything since Hi-fi) but not the radio hits. But that has always been the case. Night swimming or Find the river, Just a touch, Inside out, the cover of Tighten up, Pretty Persuasion. Most of their best music isn’t on the radio. If you are judging them on Shiny Happy People, Stand, and It’s the end of the world as we know it, then you are depriving yourself. This weekend tickets to R.E.M., Modest Mouse, and The National are on sale this weekend in Nor Cal. I hope R.E.M. can still bring it, and if not, Modest Mouse and The National will still make it worth it. Just with that much talent someone is going to have too short a set.

  13. Cameron Dean says:

    Barry,

    Great writing here on your part… not joking or being derogatory here… you could have had a career at Rolling Stone. Its interesting that your thoughts almost mirror exactly an article in the most recent edition of Time Magazine… check it out, you will get a kick out of how close your comments match theirs. Peace.

  14. Barry,

    I have to agree with Cameron Dean above. This is some excellent music writing; you are succinct yet informative and right on the money in your criticism.

    Do you just bang this stuff out on the fly? I suspect from the timestamp that this was written previously and automatically posted, but, even so, this is incredibly thoughtful writing for a blog post. How can you possibly have the time for the blog, your obviously demanding business and media appearances, and still have a homelife (which you obviously do). I am in awe. Whatever riches your efforts generate are amply deserved.

    I also agree with p.a. above. “Fables of the Reconstruction” is their finest hour in my opinion. I had the great good fortune to see them at the Wang Center in Boston back in 1985, I think. One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, period.

    Once Stipe started enunciating, I started to lose interest, though I was glad to see the band achieve the success that came later. I’d love to think they could still be relevant, but I’m skeptical.

    Have a nice weekend.

    –Rodger

    ~~~

    BR: Thanks for the kind words, but they are undeserved.

    I approach music writing very differently than I do markets or economics. The finance stuff is stream of consciousness, which is then massaged into something readable.

    With music, I will jot a few thoughts down, have a bit of a structure, then go hunting for other comments — from the band, album liner notes, other reviewers.

    Usually, a few words will catch my attention as particularly fitting. (People have been calling Peter Buck’s guitar work “Jangly” for decades now) I’ll work those words/sentences/phrases into my post.

    Its more of a mash up/remix then original writing. I am a great synthesizer, but I wouldn’t call this original writing.

  15. Marcus Aurelius says:

    The B52s were also from Ahens, GA. I know musicians. Athens, GA must have some awesome ganja.

  16. Anthony says:

    New Adventures In Hi-Fi is a great recording – I have been a fan since day 1 (I can remember Murmur from senior year in HS), but my enthusiasm wavered in the 90s until this came along. I still listen to most of the catalog – and the the first four albums to me are the “original” REM, but if anything stands out since then it is this – I don’t think Stipe ever sounded better.

  17. Tyson says:

    Barry, your jazz picks are great, but excellent change up with R.E.M. Murmur is on my top ten all-time. I still listen to them quite a bit. Often in a 80s compilation I have full of Replacemements, Husker Du, The Feelies, etc.. While I’m kissing some ass… thanks for the killer analysis and writing.. and the shot of east coast attitude for this right coaster on the left.

  18. Clay says:

    Excellent REM album suggestions. I would add “Automatic for the People” as another must own. I think I will go listen to it now.

  19. David says:

    I’m glad to see there are some Replacements fans here. This is for you guys.

    Mats, live 1981.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=IINrFUCF8-g

  20. Coolio says:

    I saw REM around 1987 or so at the Walter Brown Arena at Boston Univ. They started the set with this sound of a train screetching, I swore to God that a Trolly from the Green Line had jumped the tracks, run down Babcock street and made its way into the hockey arena.

    From there they broke into Driver 8.

    Unbelievable show and it inspired me to plunk down $500 for a used Rickenbacker semi-hollow body guitar that I still own.

  21. bbbbutt says:

    Whatever my friend … think what you want. But, XTC was were it was at. Drums and Wires, Black Sea and English Settlement.

  22. Randy says:

    yeah — take the first 5 (up through fables, including initial EP) add first few ‘mats CDs, trash the rest. But accelerate better than last decade of REM, in toto.

  23. sport says:

    >Often in a 80s compilation I have full of Replacemements, Husker Du, The Feelies, etc..

    Oh I did some drunken dancing to The Feelies back in the day. Saw them in Baltimore and DC early 90s. Loved their shows.

  24. Andrew says:

    Barry,

    Thanks for this – I concur with Rodger above that “Fables…” is R.E.M.’s finest work (see my eMail address!)

    It’s interesting that the band hated recording it in London with Joe Boyd, and have since tended to disavow it. They were at their creative peak, in my view – still using the arpeggiating lead and melodic bass approach (Old Man Kinsey), but introducing some amazing harmonic ideas (Feeling Gravity’s Pull).

    They lost me with “Monster,” and with the exception of “The Great Beyond” have written virtually nothing in the last ten years which compares with their early period. But that early period is a rich, rich seam.

  25. rockitz says:

    Just got back from some real Friday Night Jazz at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Octegenarian Ernie Andrews and his 5-piece band blew the LA chill off of some 400 strong audience members at a free concert to start the Friday Night Jazz season at LACMA. The elite senior citizen all-stars pulled off a 50 minute set followed by a strong 45 minute set 25 minutes later.

    See http://www.lacma.org/programs/FridayNightJazz.aspx

    “For over sixty years, Andrews has been thrilling audiences around the globe with hits recorded with such giants as Harry James, Cannonball Adderly, Gene Harris and Ray Brown. In a recent review, Los Angeles Times critic Don Heckman said, “[H]e blends a hard-swinging, outgoing vocal style with a quick-witted sense of humor . . . he does so with a rich timbre, a gift for drama and a singular capacity to stimulate an audience.”

    Seen REM at the Greek from the 4th row a few years back, but this was truly a classy and classic event.

  26. kk says:

    “Their songs were barbed attacks on the status quo, hidden beneath hauntingly beautiful melodies, arcane lyrical language, driving drumbeats, jangly guitars, and mumbled vocals. It was a completely idiosyncratic approach, but it worked well.”

    “What stood out most of all were their collections of songs, alternatively beautiful and compelling. Dramatic structures, majestic melodies, lush vocal harmonies and somewhat archaic language combined for a unique sound.”

    A little over the top on your wordsmithing don’t you think Barry?

  27. A little over the top on your wordsmithing don’t you think Barry?
    Posted by: kk | Apr 5, 2008 2:03:37 AM

    Get your own blog.

    Murmur and Reckoning were two of my faves for many years. Had them both on 1 cassette tape. They were into Gang of Four also at this early period, esp. Peter Buck.

    REM was, in 1984, basically a revolt against Ronald Reagan and where the U.S. was going at that time. The band helped establish a viable musical culture and business plan outside of the mindless greed, xenophobia and right wing evangelical crap that was beginning to control commercial radio and records.

    It’s important to remember than in 1982 and 1984, Republicans and Ronald Reagan thought rock and roll was devil music and commie music and darkie music that needed to be wiped off the map. Having a national political party that supported apartheid is not the way to win adherents from a musical source created by Black Africans, but what the hey. Lee Atwater gave it a shot.

  28. DiggerDan says:

    RnR wasn’t very “black” by that point. Matter of fact, it had been so changed and stretched by whites, blacks didn’t even listen to it anymore.

    Reagan and the Xenophites argueably were ‘darker’ than RnR bands at that time with their Hewbrew mumblings.

    REM were weak and boring. I would rather listen to Black Flag than that boring tripe.

  29. Peter_BK says:

    Regarding their record deal: you get paid based upon what you have done in the past not what you are worth currently. Same problem with all economic models. General trends may mean something, but on an individual level past performance has 0 guarantee of future returns… I sense a relevant analogy in our midst

  30. Since someone weighed in on the “Con”-side, I’ll vote “Pro”. And, still wish that there was “Liberty and Honor under the Honor Roll”

    lyric snip from Document LP..

  31. D. says:

    I can’t believe I’m actually wearing pink right now as I recall all the hours spent smoking cigarettes in the student cafe, listening to their music, wearing my ripped black leather jacket.

    My, how times have changed. Too many colors, the market is peaking. When black and grey are the only two colors in vogue, that’s when I’ll know the market has bottomed!

  32. Mark says:

    Because of the huge commercial success in their latter years, a lot of people forget how truly different and unique REM was in the beginning. I worked at the U. of Tennessee radio station (WUTK) at the time just after the Chronic Town EP. They came to Knoxville and played two nights in a tiny club (Hobo’s – for anyone who might have been there) in front of about 100 people each night, and blew the doors off the place. If you were lucky enough to see them around that time, you just knew they were going to be special.

    For me, REM was over as a band as soon as Michael Stipe found a social consciousness, which seemed to happen about at Document. They had been overtly political, but never in your face until that time. It was about the music before that, creating an “alternative” to the dreck being spewed out by the major labels. Bands like the ‘Mats and the Feelies, and artists like Marshall Crenshaw were like a huge breath of fresh air at the time. REM unfortunately became exactly what they always stood against (maybe a step above, though).

    From the EP through their fourth album (Lifes Rich Pageant) they made music which will always be timeless, which is the true test of greatness. And I agree with a couple of earlier posts – “Fables…” was an underrated and brilliant release which sounds as good today as it did then.

  33. Dervin says:

    REM was good, but they were just music – a little to “we love the 60′s.” For true rebellion against the 80′s, you had to listen to the Dead Milkmen.

  34. Crim Jamer says:

    Ahh…memories. How many people used the nascent internet to dredge up REM chords and LYRICS? That one grad student down south had a site…like an early Wiki…where everyone would chime in on what they thought they were saying.

    Weird to think I have those first two releases on VINYL.

    I sometimes tell my 4 year old he sounds like a broken record and he says, “What’s a record?”

    Shout out to Dervin…Philly boy here, I saw the Dead Milkmen more than I saw REM. They used to play at the Trocadero…God, to be able to go back in time.

  35. wilson says:

    Up and Reveal are actually good and interesting albums. They are just different, and that’s fine. Some of the vocal harmonies, guitar work, and production really soar.

    Monster and the other mega records are fine, but BR is right – the first records were groundbreaking and genre defying. Additionally, the artwork was just as good. Back in the days when that was an integral part of experiencing music.

    Played a cut from “Life’s Rich Pageant” last night to help end another wacky week – “…the flowers cover everything…”

  36. I Am Superman says:

    In Woody Allen’s biograpy by Eric Lax, he tells a story where Woody is in a second hand record store with an acquaintance who has chosen to buy a record by Sidney Bechet (one of Woody’s fave clarinet players). When he finds out that the person has never listen to Bechet before, he says (I paraphrase) “I’d give anything to be you hearing that for the first time.”

    I kind of feel that way about Murmur and Reckoning. To Barry’s point about everything being Stones, Foreigner, Journey, et al…I used to have to tune into static-y Lehigh University college radio to catch REM or anything remotely interesting–and then having the money to afford the albums was a greater rarity.

    It’s much, much easier to find and purchase non-mainstream music these days, but is it more fun than dialing in the receiver with your ear against the speaker…hmmm.

  37. rudy_d says:

    I have to second cameron dean. I’m not a big REM fan–I do like some of their earlier stuff and their new song–but that was one of the best synopsis/reviews of a band I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe you should submit your resume to Rolling Stone.

  38. rudy_d says:

    I have to second cameron dean. I’m not a big REM fan–I do like some of their earlier stuff and their new song–but that was one of the best synopsis/reviews of a band I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe you should submit your resume to Rolling Stone.

  39. Lance says:

    Barry,

    I always love being transformed back to the first time I heard REM. Throw in all of the references here to the Feelies, Black Flag, The Clash, Iggy and of course, the Replacements.

    REM was more than a great band, or even the fathers of the “alternative” music scene that followed my beloved punk explosion in the late seventies (I just want to mention Television and the greatest live band of the era, the Fleshtones while people are listing bands) they were the Johnny Appleseeds of the era. At a time when college radio was treating them like the Beatles, they leveraged that popularity for everyone else. They looked for promising bands, local and otherwise, to appear with them. Helping build fan bases for an incredible number of bands. Thus people came to know about the great bands in their areas such as Husker Du, The Replacements and many many more. Even those who are not fans of REM should acknowledge the debt that all those other bands owe to their strenuous promotion of the alternative scene.

    A friend of mine and I spent some time talking about what made REM special to us at the time. He turned it into a rather interesting post about a misadventure of ours over at Last FM. I think you might enjoy it. Especially the thoughts on why they appealed so strongly to those of us from the south who were so enmeshed in the more urban sound of the punk movement previously:

    “Much like a hat I used to own, R.E.M. was perfect because it fit perfectly into the space where nothing used to be. They drew on the energy of punk without its harshness and nihilism, replacing growling distortion with chiming Byrds guitars and hoarse, angry shouts with pretty harmonies, and filtered out the cornpone from country/roots, leaving only its forthright beauty, in a way that made perfect and astonishing sense to white Southern kids of a certain age, to whom real country was a cliche beloved by redneck uncles and to whom real punk, however satisfying its aggressive pleasures, was music about New York, and London, and Southern California, exotic places that bore scant resemblance to the tree-lined streets of our hometowns. R.E.M.’s sound validated a kind of modern-South lifestyle that we were already living, and made it seem both mythic and earnestly real. You couldn’t buy drugs that did that. Not consistently, anyway.”

    The rest can be found here:
    http://www.last.fm/user/rockrobster23/journal/2008/01/30/635002/

  40. eightnine2718281828mu5 says:

    I’d also throw bands like ‘pere ubu’ and ‘joy division’ into the mix of pre-REM alternative efforts.

    And of course further back there’s the velvet underground/lou reed/john cale and all their spin-offs.

  41. Lee says:

    I’m sorta stunned that anyone who believes early R.E.M was transcendent (I’m with you on this Barry) doesn’t list Chronic Town. I remember having a chance to see the band in a club during college (at the University of Missouri)just after Chronic Town came out. I didn’t go — I heard were about 15 people there. Shortly thereafter Murmur broke and when R.E.M came back to town you couldn’t get near the club.

  42. OhNoNotAgain says:

    I came to the alt-party a little late, in 1986, but man, what the hell was in the water in 1987 ? Here are the major alt albums released that year:

    R.E.M. – Document
    U2 – The Joshua Tree
    The Smiths – Louder than Bombs (compilation)
    New Order – Substance (compilation)
    The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
    Faith No More – Introduce Yourself
    Midnight Oil – Diesel and Dust
    Pet Shop Boys – Actually
    Depeche Mode – Music for the Masses
    Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Uplift Mofo Party Plan
    The Replacements – Pleased to Meet Me
    The Cult – Electric
    Erasure – The Circus
    10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe
    Love and Rockets – Earth, Sun, Moon
    INXS – Kick
    The Sisters of Mercy – Floodland

    and probably some others that I missed.

    And these aren’t just any old albums. For many of these bands, these albums were the peak of their career in terms of exposure, popularity, and more-importantly, their “cool-factor”. So, I’m going to declare 1987, with R.E.M.’s Document, the peak of the 80′s alternative scene. What say you ?

  43. Stephen Bain says:

    As someone who is generally content to sit back an listen to the fine and insightful commentary on your blog — Barry, I am finally inspired to chime in. Nice to see the full write up on REM… While I own and enjoyed all of REMs albums I would add New Adventures in Hi-Fi and Automatic for The People as two of my fave later albums by the band.

    For those who are inclined to REM’s brand of music (with a style that does have some basic rock grounding), I would also refer you to The Tragically Hip. Album recommendations: World Container, Trouble at The Henhouse, Fully Completely and Day for Night are great starter albums and you can also pick up That Night In Toronto which is an excellent demonstration as to why this band should be seen live.

    For those who have not discovered him I would also recommend Grant Lee Phillips who I discovered as a recommendation from a Michael Stipe interview where he singled out an album called Fuzzy by Phillips former band Grant Lee Buffalo as his favorite album of the year about 10 years ago. Again, you may have heard of him but if you haven’t do yourself a favor and check him out.

  44. p.a. says:

    What depresses me is hearing all these bands’ names and remembering the diversity of college/alt radio, at least as far as playing non-commercial (or at least not-yet commercial) bands. Maybe I’m older than the average poster here (almost 49) but if you go back further in time the alt-radio scene was weirdly great (or greatly weird!?). Joni Mitchell would be followed by Gil Scott-Heron followed by The Mothers followed by Buffalo Springfield.
    Try this today and you’ll end up programming you own internet radio playlist for an average 27 listeners an hour.

  45. manu says:

    I’m glad the feelies got a mention in the comments. A fantastic
    band. You might want to check them out on youtube along with
    the connells.

  46. Adam Gutteridge says:

    A couple few things…REM certainly blazed a trail on a macro level in the alternative/college/indie sense; they are widely and deservedly credited for all of that shit. This should be stated in any quick survey of REM, but to drill down a bit, something I’ve thought about lately… REM deserves the title of original Alt-Country band. I love Tweedy and Wilco, Son Volt and Farrar, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals but I’d bet they all rocked out to REM back in the day. Athens is no hick-town but veritable institution. No mention of Athens as the spot is complete without recognizing what the other Athens, GA great Widespread Panic has accomplished in an alternate universe from REM.

    Agree with Marcus and others – New Adventures in Hi-Fi. I just got back from walking on the beach enjoying that masterpiece.

  47. sport says:

    >REM was, in 1984, basically a revolt against Ronald Reagan

    And The The, with Matt Johnson, was the revolt against Margaret Thatcher.

  48. PC says:

    Life’s Rich Pageant is their finest album in my view. All the early stuff is outstanding. They lost me after Document.

  49. jojo says:

    “REM was a joke of a band with a bunch of femanized wimps whining and crying.” LOL
    (yeah now MEGADEATH THAT band had BALLS!!)

    REM were my favorite band in the 80′s by FAR. I also liked/like the Smiths quite a bit but REM made music, for the love of Music, with Mystery and intelligence!

    They’ve done work just as compelling since the 80′s just not nearly as frequently (Imitation of life, The Great Beyond, New Test Leper etc)
    btw, Digger Dan if i ever met you in public, i’d knock yer tiny dick in the dirt ya troll….

  50. Bedivere says:

    Barry, I respect the hell out of your opinion and I may just buy Mumble, or Murmur, or whatever it is just to see what all the fuss is about, but I tried to get into REM 20 years ago and just couldn’t do it. Their songs are “OK,” but I’ve never heard anything by them that I wanted to listen to more than once (except the apparently uncool “Losing My Religion,” which I thought was a pretty good record).

    By 1983 an awful lot had already been done and the bar for originality was pretty high. The Talking Heads had put down their best tracks, Punk and New Wave were over, and the Police were already mainstream. The seventies had given us one monster album after another by bands who took the inventiveness of the 60s and gave it polish and serious musicianship. It wasn’t all perfect but you’re fooling yourself if you don’t admit that the “stadium bands” like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, and, yes, Boston (and several others) had produced some massively great and listenable music that would be hard for succeeding generations to live up to.

    Punk/New Wave was a reaction to this and took us in an interesting (though infinitely less listenable) direction. I agree with the comment above that Television did remarkable, ground-breaking work, but that was Marquee Moon in 1977. Against this backdrop, when REM came along in 1983 I didn’t find them new, or different, or even interesting. I realize I’m in the minority here, but I find some of the later stuff where Stipe’s vocals are out front and intelligible to be more provocative. I’m not trying to offend anyone, but most of what I’ve heard just makes me want to yawn.

  51. Nick E says:

    Would REM have been around had it not been for the dB’s? Now there was a great great band.