REM: Classic or dud?

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I've always wanted to ask a "classic or dud" question, and some recent posts have me curious about this one. I went to college in the States in the 1980s, so I'm required to love REM's first four albums (and I do so without reservation.) I started to lose interest around Document, however, and haven't heard the last 3 or 4 at all. So what do you think? Did they start strong and peter out? Were they always crap? Do you still love everything they put out and look forward to the new one?

Mark Richardson, Wednesday, 17 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

R.E.M. slowly descending into dreaded dud status. Used to like them (hey my indie credentials are impeccable ;). I started to lose interest around "Automatic..." which still has a couple of great tracks, after that: whatever. In the end I think they only made one classic: Fables of the Reconstruction/etc.

O. Munoz, Wednesday, 17 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Like everyone else - well, no, probably some people were too sensible - I used to like REM. I loved the idea of a band where you couldnt even hear the lyrics but I discovered pretty quickly that you could and they weren't that great anyway. Even so I was a big fan circa Green and a lukewarm fan circa OOT, and then thought they'd cracked it with Automatic but suddenly after a month or so of loving it had the Damascene revelation that it was terrible.

And I've honestly not really been able to listen to them since. Memory tells me that the first album or so is OK. The myth of REM, that they came along and saved American rock or something, always struck me as odd - did American rock need 'saving'? I'm not that up on my history of early 80s US rock, but the ecstatic reception of REM strikes me as being a kind of reaction to punk - OK the need for new music is appreciated, but does it have to be this noisy and nasty? Ah, here come some 'proper songs', good. A similar thing happened in the UK with the - perceived - difference between new wave and post- punk, maybe.

Tom, Wednesday, 17 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Not so much classic or dud as 'unimpressed.' Never really liked REM, except when Michael Stipe was on "Pete and Pete"

We'll give them dud, for kicks.

JM, Wednesday, 17 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Very much "comfort zone" music, the choice of hip but unadventurous twentysomethings (now in early thirties) everywhere. Art made unobjectionable. But, uh, is that a bad thing? I can't decide, but Stipe's falsetto when he covers Femme Fatale is precious, so I say classic.

Sterling Clover, Wednesday, 17 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

No band is good forever, so based on my favorite REM material I'd have to say classic. But it feels odd giving that designation to a band that's about as interesting as Matchbox 20 to me now (I'm sure Matchbox 20 is actually great to all you wannabe Chuck Eddys, but you know what I mean ;-)

Tom, I think the way college radio (and students) embraced REM in the 80s was more of a reaction against new wave than it was punk. Something about the Byrdsian harmonies/guitars was so firmly "rock" (and more specifically American rock) and yet also perceived as "different" (probably due to the muttered vocals and murky production.) That's a powerful combination when you're talking about an American pop music movement. I always felt like REM existed beside the punks pretty easily, touring w/ Husker Du and The Replacements and so on.

Mark Richardson, Thursday, 18 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I read a comment recently in which one of REM claimed that what punk meant to them was the possibility of mixing everything up together, breaking the rules and so on--but what it transpired that he meant was that they could play folk music instead. Which has to mean DUD.

That said, having missed out on REM the first time round, about from the indie disco classics, I've been having a go at their early records. So in two months I may be a fan, but on current form, probably not...

alex thomson, Friday, 19 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The strange thing with R.E.M. is that I always knew people who liked them so heard a lot of their music (at least, music from Out of Time, Automatic, and Monster), but never owned any myself. That said, with napster I've checked them out quite a bit, and while a lot of their stuff isn't bad, it's not particularly strong either... that is, except for one song, which I actually feel is one of the most haunting I've ever heard, and that's "E-Bow the Letter" off New Adventures in Hi-Fi. From the constant drone in the background to the lyrics to the amazingly good idea of having Patti Smith on back up vocals, the song just plain works, and is surprisingly powerful, at least to me.

Sean Patrick O'Toole, Tuesday, 23 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Mark: Touring with the Replacements and Husker Du doesn't really mean anything in and of itself (certainly nothing to do with punk rock) given that both bands were probably trying to be REM by that point in their careers ('mats should've quit after Hootenanny, and Husker Du should've quit after Zen Arcade, or probably Metal Circus to tell the truth). REM was a pathogen; they killed American punk rock by pointing many novel and hopeless bands/labels into saleable (so they thought!) half- assed college rock directions (look at SST records for example...starts out with some seemingly decent aesthetic principles, puts out some outstanding Black Flag and Minutemen stuff, and ends up vomiting forth coffeehouse jangle- nothings like Trotsky Icepick, Angst, later Minutemen etc.) Cosloy goes from GG Allins band(!) to Matador records (the best release on which is the La Peste retrospective which is a better link between REM-culture and punk rock since La Peste were an actual punk rock band and yeah, obviously this is much later but REM created the climate for this whole indie rock thing, where "alternative music" somehow becomes the only music worth listening to). Even the Angry Samoans (who I'm sure hated REM) got kind of boring! Not counting metal (broadly defined to include everything from Testament to Union Carbide Productions to Celtic Frost to Cinderella, all of whom were excellent) and Sonic Youth, there was basically no good American rock music at all in the late 80s, was there? Halo of Flies?!? And now you've got all this alt-roots junk, which is also REM's fault probably, and I blame REM for sanctimonious junk like Live and Creed as well.

Basically REM sucks eggs. "Real World" by Matchbox 20 is a lot better than any REM song. The best thing about REM is that they still show "My Breakfast with Blassie" sometimes on TV.

Kris P., Tuesday, 23 January 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

their best album for me is still "reckoning", which was released in, what, 1984? best song--'camera'.

geeta dayal, Tuesday, 6 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh classic, probably, I used to love 'Automatic..' when I was 14, and though interest has petered out over the intervening years, they still hold a place in my heart. Now, like most people, I prefer their earlier stuff, and though I found much of 'Monster' and 'New Adventures..' dull and insipid, on their last album, 'Up', they still managed to pull some gems from their now slightly more ample behinds. There aren't many bands in their mid forties who are still any good at all. In fact I can't think of any. So I salute them.

Ally C, Friday, 9 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I would tend to distinguish between 80s and 90s REM. 80s REM has an engaging sense of being genuinely offbeat (vocally and lyrically - but musically very easy to get along with), whereas 90s REM has an air of strain, lack of inspiration, grandstanding, being 'so humble we're arrogant', 'so ironic we're compassionate', and other atmospheres that I can't do a very good job of putting into words.

I like everything pre-Green - I think that LRP and Document may be the masterpieces, for all their US80srock flourishes. The repetitive jangle of things like 'Cuyahoga', 'Welcome To The Occupation' or 'Heron House' is the sort of predictable thing I like (but I could never have predicted it). I must admit, I do like a lot of the 90s material too: I liked Out Of Time when it came out, recognize that there are good tracks on Automatic (but it got so grotesquely overrated), even have a soft spot for Monster ('I Don't Sleep, I Dream' is splendidly large, thudding and echoing), despite its lack of melodic quality. The real clunker, in my book, is New Adventures In Hi-Fi - BY FAR the worst REM record ever. After that, Up could only be a move up, and it has its moments (none better than 'Daysleeper', as far as I recall). Still, by the mid-90s there was something sadly insufferable about the tone, the image, the projected persona(e) of REM.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 13 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

They just left me...cold, somehow. I like a few of their songs on an intellectual level, but the playing, lyrics, and _especially_ the singing seem utterly rote and passionless. Still, like I said, on an intellectual level (chords and notes n' stuff) I like a lot of their stuff. My single favorite song of theirs is "Electro Light," I never hear that one mentioned.

Jack Redelfs, Wednesday, 21 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I was surprised and interested by that last entry that said 'on an intellectual level (chords and notes and stuff)' REM were OK. I am interested in chords and notes and stuff - but from an utterly amateur, non-musicological perspective - and I would be interested to hear what is meant here - cos REM strike me as being really relatively uninteresting from that particular POV.

the pinefox, Thursday, 22 February 2001 01:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
If ever there was a band that should have been called "The Emperor's New Clothes," REM was it. This is what they were: a lead singer/songwriter with nothing to say, taking it to the point of making nothing to say a "style"; and a halfassed backup band that never met a cliche it couldn't use. This is a band that goes around bragging about how hard they don't work on their music -- it just comes out of the air, it only takes twenty minutes for them to write a song. Well, gee, imagine that. And here I thought it only took them ten minutes to write them.

Rock and roll is deader than jazz, anyway. The answer to all your questions is, yes, REM really does suck as much as it seems, now that you've emerged from your childhood. Christ, I'd rather hear the Cowsills on any given day than those smarmy assholes.

Just my humble opinion...

Douglas Fletcher, Friday, 6 April 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
FYI: Cee-Fax one-line review —

REM "reveal" melodic side once more

There seems to be an awful lot of hatred quietly sedimented into those otherwise meaningless claw-quotes, or am I just projecting?

mark s, Sunday, 13 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Tom's R.E.M.-success-as-reaction-against-punk theory up there sounds pretty unlikely to me. From a mainstream regular-person non-music-freak point of view, punk did not exist in the U.S. back then. It had no exposure whatsoever. It certainly couldn't have been perceived in any way, shape or form as such a threat that people would need to rally around the first jangly guitar band that comes along.

Patrick, Sunday, 13 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

More like cynicism / sarcasm, I think, Mark.

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 13 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

REM/U2 etc. - the best worst bands or the worst best bands ?

geordie racer, Sunday, 13 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

The reation against punk threory makes sense in the limited realm of college-radio where REM grew from. It could perhaps be more said that REM's sound allowed it uniquely to hold an underground base while also climing the charts.

Sterling Clover, Sunday, 13 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

One of those bands I'd like to like, seeing as almost everyone else in the entire world does (possibly an exaggeration), but they're just...well...boring. Sorry.

DG, Sunday, 13 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Anybody got "Reveal" yet? Thoughts?

Dr. C, Thursday, 24 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

utterly shit on TOTP last night, along with RADIOHEAD, fuxache this type of bollux i ask ya !!!

geordie racer, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Lost interest sometime around 'Automatic', but 'Fables of the Reconstruction' is still lovely. At least Stripe has finally come out, good man.

Stevo, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, TOTP...he was using an autocue!

DG, Saturday, 26 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I've only very recently picked up a few REM albums and really have no sentimental attachment. The first few albums still sound pretty fresh, I think, although I can't put my finger on what's really interesting about them. My favourite at the moment is Up; there's clearly a fair amount of filler but Suspicion, Sad Professor, Daysleeper and Lotus still affect me, however underwritten they might be.

As opposed to apparently every critic around the world, I'm quite disappointed by Reveal. The last thing we need now is another apathetic 'Hey, everything will be alright' album. The tunes are pretty enough but I can't hear anything with the passion of Murmur or Lifes Rich Pageant. Maybe the computers just took it out of them a little.

John Davey, Monday, 28 May 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

one month passes...
I too was in college in the 80's and at that time, REM was without a doubt my favourite band. Document made me think they were going the way of U2, but the band remained on my "buy without hearing list". I can't even remember which was my last. It was the one with Texarkana on it. Anyway, there are two REMs. All albums after LRP just aren't any good even though good songs can be found there. Murmer, Reckoning, Reconstruction and LRP are about as good of a 4-set as you will find in history,IMHO. The simplicity should be acclaimed, not criticized. I suppose for me, the deathblow was Buck's experiments with the mandolin. When the guitar left, so did I, and I haven't heared a reason to go back.

Paul M Lafleur, Thursday, 5 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Stop press. I am very sceptical of any REM after about 1991. Imagine my surprise to find myself thinking: cor - this Reveal record is pretty good!

the pinefox, Saturday, 21 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

pinefox - Is Reveal the first record you like of the zero decade? Except Lloyd Cole of course who is doing quite well on his latest actually!

alex in mainhattan, Sunday, 22 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't want to overrate Reveal. It's not that great - just a slightly pleasant surprise.

Records I like in the zero decade include: Lloyd, The Negatives; 6ths, Hyacinths & Thistles; Costello / Mutter, For The Stars; B&S, FYHCYWLAP. Of these, I think Lloyd's is the best. EC does what he does. 6ths and B&S are patchy by their authors' standards. I can't think of many others.

the pinefox, Sunday, 22 July 2001 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

three months pass...
Pinefox, I was the one who professed to enjoying R.E.M on a intellectual level, "chords and notes and stuff." I think what I mean is that they sound to me like a GM midi file: No matter the tempo or style, the band just plods along professionally, without any surprises or sudden jolts. They're just not very dynamic. ESPECIALLY Stipe. That said, the actual content of there songs can be quite good, and I really enjoy what I've heard of _Reveal_.

Jack Redelfs, Monday, 22 October 2001 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

five months pass...
Ugh. I am on of thsoe mid-30's people who luckily caught on to REM fairly early on (about '84). I don't recall them to be claiming punk/new wave/ post-pop/college/alterna....they were just a breath of fresh air when pop music wsa dominated by total shite.

Yeh, anything after 'document' or even 'lifes rich pageant' for that matter is supsect but ya kind of had o be there to understand the significance at the time.....

I but them at this time at of sentimentality

Michael D, Sunday, 31 March 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link

three years pass...
There are nowhere near enough "classic"s on this thread, so... CLASSIC!! No matter how terrible their new records get, they're still one of the best bands ever. How many great albums have they made? Ten?

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Saturday, 30 April 2005 13:23 (fourteen years ago) link

Well, it's no secret that I think they are classic and are still a pretty good band even though they seem to be in decline. I'm sure they will continue to write quality songs and play good live shows.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 30 April 2005 13:59 (fourteen years ago) link

classic, but they bore the shit out of me and always have.

edd s hurt (ddduncan), Saturday, 30 April 2005 14:46 (fourteen years ago) link

Haven't made an album that isn't really good yet!

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Saturday, 30 April 2005 15:32 (fourteen years ago) link

classic, of course. but really, i'm only posting to point out that kris p.'s post from 2001 is the most ridiculous thing i've ever read on ILM.

tim, i think that post could cut both ways...

john'n'chicago, Saturday, 30 April 2005 15:37 (fourteen years ago) link

If they had broken up after Hi-Fi I could be so much more unreserved in my fanship. Hard to believe THAT album is almost a decade old.

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 30 April 2005 15:39 (fourteen years ago) link

i would stretch anthony's comment to UP and think they would've been fine. monster turned 10 and that record was thrilling to me as a high schooler.

still classic, even if i hardly ever take these discs off the shelf any more. i used to debate the merits of gardening at night with my trig teacher. (, Saturday, 30 April 2005 15:53 (fourteen years ago) link

I think that Reveal and Around The Sun are below average in terms of their back catalog, but still have some really great songs on them. I fault R.E.M. for making albums that are only half-good but I give lesser bands a lot of credit for making albums that only have two or three good songs. So grading on a curve really hurts them.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:08 (fourteen years ago) link

I think that when Michael Stipe when from being completely introverted to Courtney Loving it up, it was a real trap for the band's overall feel. Shiny Happy People seemed like such an aberration, and then Automatic was a slickly produced return to form of sorts, even if it opened the floodgates further. Monster didn't bother me as much as some folks, and I really like(d) New Adventures and Up. But Reveal was the first album that I found completely ridiculous and middle-agey, even New Age-y. Around the Sun I've never even heard.

I thought The Great Beyond was a lovely single, as was Imitation of Life (even Bad Day fits into this category), but those seem more like lucky accidents than an indication that they could record an entire album as consistent as those 15 years ago. (, Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:12 (fourteen years ago) link

And let's not underestimate the impact Bill Berry's departure had on the band's chemistry. He was more than just the ugly drummer; he wrote quite a few songs. Moreover, when you lose a drummer as solid as Berry, your band's gonna be awful slack in the rhythm department. That's how the remaining members justified their boring "electronic" direction to the press (all those gratuitous allusions to Eno, etc).

If "Hi-Fi" had ended with "Be Mine," it'd be classic REM, probably in my top four or five.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:31 (fourteen years ago) link

Reveal was definitely the heartbreaker for me, esp. since "Imitation Of Life" was the best song they'd made since frikkin' who knows. Stuck out like a silver thumb and made the rest of the shit seem downright willfully awful. Ending with Hi-Fi would have a) allowed them to maintain that we-four-are-REM beauty (R=4!) and made "Electrolite" their curtain call. "I'm not scared, I'm out of here"!

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:37 (fourteen years ago) link

Classic in the 80s, semi classic through the 90s, shit since 'Reveal'.

I.M. (I.M.), Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:39 (fourteen years ago) link

They're definitely one of those bands where little flaws have become so crippling that it taints previous albums because I can see how little mistakes would evolve into tragedies. Stuff that would be forgivable if that's as far as they'd take it are now offensive.

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:41 (fourteen years ago) link

i've argued with matt perpetua elsewhere about this, but i agree with anthony here - i can't listen to automatic anymore because i think it's so poorly paced. i know there are folks who'd disagree, and i love "side 2" but it's just such a jarring side 1.

having missed the monster tour - which would've been awesome as a high schooler - i was equally thrilled to see them on the UP tour as a college senior. they were ecstatic and did their best to include some older stuff...that the crowd booed! (, Saturday, 30 April 2005 16:53 (fourteen years ago) link

The warner bros. four-piece years are so tied up with my youth that I find it really hard to judge them critically - the idea of explaining what makes them 'good' is fucked because the appeal was so much less concrete at the time I memorized every melody (if not lyric). If I try to imagine how these albums come off to the unfamiliar I have to assume they're all patchwork nonsense. I'd probably throw Chronic thru Fables at an arty newbie as the early stuff has dance beats and Gehman-Litt haven't brought in the whole awkward arena element.

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 30 April 2005 17:02 (fourteen years ago) link

PC Zeppelin really. Should have broke up when the drummer died.

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 30 April 2005 17:03 (fourteen years ago) link

PC Zeppelin really

once they moved from dance clubs to theatres

miccio (miccio), Saturday, 30 April 2005 17:04 (fourteen years ago) link

It's as impossible to explain REM's allure to neophytes as it is to explain the Beatles. ("But they wrote really GOOD songs!")

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 30 April 2005 17:08 (fourteen years ago) link

awesome. great sound!

always loved stipe's stage presence

understood by moron level and above (brimstead), Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:35 (one year ago) link

a bunch of my friends were there, if I'd have gone to UGA with the rest of them I'd have been there too. a few hung out with the band after the show too, got to meet Mike Mills' parents.

droit au butt (Euler), Thursday, 23 November 2017 07:56 (one year ago) link

i really like the version of "drive"

understood by moron level and above (brimstead), Thursday, 23 November 2017 18:46 (one year ago) link

I don't. It's like, let's do "Drive" minus the brooding. What's left? Kinda nothing

ur-oik (rip van wanko), Thursday, 23 November 2017 18:57 (one year ago) link

It has an increased urgency and simplicity I really like.

understood by moron level and above (brimstead), Thursday, 23 November 2017 19:09 (one year ago) link

it has a different, more uneasy atmosphere than the studio vers. Not saying it's better or anything

understood by moron level and above (brimstead), Thursday, 23 November 2017 19:10 (one year ago) link

It's definitely weird. I've actually never not liked the live version (which afaik always sounded like this) til this time, so maybe I'm just lounging to hear the original

ur-oik (rip van wanko), Thursday, 23 November 2017 20:35 (one year ago) link

Longing. Or lounging

ur-oik (rip van wanko), Thursday, 23 November 2017 20:35 (one year ago) link

ten months pass...

every streetlight reveals a picture in reverse

reggie (qualmsley), Friday, 5 October 2018 16:38 (nine months ago) link

seven months pass...

It gives me joy to know that Mike Mills tried to beat up an audience member at a club in my city and the band did a 21-song triple encore, with 17 covers (including "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" and "Sweet Home Alabama"):

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 11:12 (two months ago) link

Seeing this thread pop up this morning inspired me to put on "Automatic for the People." It really goes to show what a special band this was that their two most eclectic albums that they also decided not to tour behind turned out to be their two biggest successes.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 11:45 (two months ago) link

I've been going back to Fables and Murmur in the last few days.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 11:46 (two months ago) link

The Bingo Hand Job show finally got an official release for Record Store Day but I haven't heard it yet.

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 11:49 (two months ago) link

I'm tempted to go with Murmur in the 1983 poll but I haven't heard it in so long. I'll rectify that later today.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 11:51 (two months ago) link

i never understood what people heard in murmur. the other album besides monster i did not get all was reckoning. so dull and unsubtle.

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 12:00 (two months ago) link

I like how Murmur murmurs.

pomenitul, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 12:13 (two months ago) link

Hm, those early records still evoke something unique for me. You don't like "So. Central Rain"? xp

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 12:16 (two months ago) link

I can't imagine not liking Radio Free Europe

I am actually that strange person, an REM fan who likes the IRS records a hundred times more than Automatic but who doesn't really care for "So. Central Rain" (but for whom Radio Free Europe is a monumental classic, to be clear)

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 13:13 (two months ago) link

So Central Rain is great but so are Harborcoat (which won the best REM song of all time in the ILM poll, IIRC) and Rockville. The whole of Reckoning in fact.

the word dog doesn't bark (anagram), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 13:37 (two months ago) link

the one that doesn’t float my boat like it should is Fables but it’s a deep catalog, everyone’s gonna have one of those.

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 13:57 (two months ago) link

sometimes the bassline in "So. Central Rain" and in particular those four steps b4 the verse are my favoroite thing in the catalog

d'ILM for Murder (Hadrian VIII), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 14:20 (two months ago) link

"so. central rain" is probably the one song from reckoning i would save. harborcoat is ok, i kind of like the bouncing rhythm. rockville isn't bad neither. maybe i should give reckoning another chance i haven't listened to it for more than 20 years.

je est un autre, l'enfer c'est les autres (alex in mainhattan), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:00 (two months ago) link

"Pretty Persuasion"!

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:03 (two months ago) link

first 4 tracks are v classic imo

findom haddie (jim in vancouver), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:14 (two months ago) link

When did 10,000 Maniacs (or maybe Natalie solo?) cover "Rockville"? Heard it on NPR Mixtape a couple weeks ago.

a large tuna called “Justice” (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:28 (two months ago) link

made me think of PAVEMENT song:

Some bands I like to name check,
And one of them is REM,
Classic songs with a long history
Southern boys just like you and me.
R - E - M
Flashback to 1983,
Chronic Town was their first EP
Later on came Reckoning
Finster's art, and titles to match:
South Central Rain, Don't Go Back To Rockville,
Harbourcoat, Pretty Persuasion,
You were born to be a camera,
Time After Time was my least favourite song,
Time After Time was my least favourite song.
The singer, he had long hair
And the drummer he knew restrait.
And the bass man he had all the right moves
And the guitar player was no saint.

nicky lo-fi, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:37 (two months ago) link

xp was on the "Candy Everybody Wants" single, i think

One Eye Open, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 17:58 (two months ago) link

“Letter Never Sent”!

Reckoning is the best

L'assie (Euler), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 18:38 (two months ago) link

XP Yup. Paired w/their Morrissey cover too.

a large tuna called “Justice” (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 7 May 2019 22:36 (two months ago) link

abjectly insane opinions in this revive

rip van wanko, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 22:59 (two months ago) link

During one mid-’80s tour, Stipe started sporting bleach-blonde hair, inspired not by fashion trends but a condiment. According to Edwards, Stipe spotted a bowl of mustard backstage one night and said, “Doesn’t it make you want to stick your head in it?” Edwards said no, but Stipe did it anyway, emerging on stage with a new, rather pungent look. For a few weeks, Stipe wore a different kind of mustard on his head every night (“his favorite was French’s,” says Edwards) until finally taking the easier route and dyeing his hair.


these are not all of the possible side effects (Karl Malone), Thursday, 16 May 2019 01:25 (two months ago) link

i remember this anecdote from the old Tony Fletcher bio

husserl gang (rip van wanko), Thursday, 16 May 2019 01:36 (two months ago) link

Hadn't read about the new biography. Interesting about Berry.
There's an Addicted To Noise interview online where he is pretty upfront that he felt the band had gotten too big.

campreverb, Thursday, 16 May 2019 20:51 (two months ago) link

Begin the Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years is pretty amazing. Lurie did a ton of research, found and interviewed a lot of people who haven’t gone on the record before, and as far as I can tell from my own experiences 1979-83 gets all the details right. As a biography of the band, it’s definitive. In many ways it’s more informative as a history of the early Athens scene than Party Out of Bounds and Athens, GA Inside Out.

The first show at the old church, the opening scene in most R.EM. origin stories, doesn’t occur until page 73. Before that Lurie explains in detail how each of the band members arrived in Athens, along the way answering questions raised waaaaaay upthread about Stipe’s early bands in St. Louis. He’s equally methodical through 1984 or so, speeds up a bit after Reckoning, and ends the book just as they’re signing their first Warner Bros. contract in 1987.

This is a timely piece of work, not necessarily because anyone wants to read about R.E.M. in 2019 but because the people who can tell this story won’t be around forever. (I might as well add this here: Jeff Walls, of Guadalcanal Diary and the Woggles, one of Lurie’s interviewees, is in critical condition and needs help:

Brad C., Thursday, 23 May 2019 16:07 (one month ago) link

That sounds great, I definitely want to read it.

brimstead, Thursday, 23 May 2019 16:44 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I'm not a big R.E.M. fan at all, but if it comes anywhere near Party Out of Bounds I'll definitely check it out. Love that book so much.

While My Guitar Gently Wheedly-Wheedly-Wheedly-Weeps (Dan Peterson), Thursday, 23 May 2019 17:08 (one month ago) link

there's an entertaining discussion of the theory that the name of the band might come from Ralph Eugene Meatyard, whose photography Stipe studied and whose aesthetic is suggestive of r.e.magery

Brad C., Thursday, 23 May 2019 21:14 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I can't wait to read this, although my ideal R.E.M. book would be where the band go through each song from beginning to end and detail inspirations, who wrote what, studio experiences, what some of the more cryptic lyrics mean etc.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Thursday, 23 May 2019 22:22 (one month ago) link

four weeks pass...

This band meant so much to me that I've been reluctant to pick up any books about them but I totally recommend the Lurie book. It took me back to times related to the band (discovered them between Reckoning and Fables) and not (the description of Athens circa ~1980 reminded me of early 90s Champaign). Didn't much appreciate his theorizing on the meaning of songs on/after Fables, but so much of the book is lovingly researched and thoughtful. I was kind of sad to finish it.

john. a resident of evanston. (john. a resident of chicago.), Thursday, 20 June 2019 06:39 (one month ago) link

three weeks pass...

Begin the Begin: R.E.M.’s Early Years is pretty amazing. Lurie did a ton of research, found and interviewed a lot of people who haven’t gone on the record before, and as far as I can tell from my own experiences 1979-83 gets all the details right. As a biography of the band, it’s definitive. In many ways it’s more informative as a history of the early Athens scene than Party Out of Bounds and Athens, GA Inside Out.

I'm reading Begin the Begin and wholly enjoying it so far. I'm at the part where R.E.M. have opened for XTC and signed with I.R.S. instead of RCA. It's acronym pandemonium.

Sam Weller, Thursday, 11 July 2019 09:42 (one week ago) link

R.E.M. and XTC played at the B&L iirc

Brad C., Thursday, 11 July 2019 14:00 (one week ago) link

Gonna have to read that book. I'm always intrigued to learn more about all the early '80s Athens stuff that I was living right in the midst of and had no idea was happening because I was four.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Thursday, 11 July 2019 14:10 (one week ago) link

the drinking age in Georgia was 18 then so you could probably have gotten into the clubs with a fake ID

Brad C., Thursday, 11 July 2019 14:56 (one week ago) link

can't believe four-year-old lunch was such a square smdh

Always meant to ask my parents for physical descriptions of my babysitters on the offchance that maybe like Fred Schneider wound up reading me bedtime stories at some point.

Logy Psycho (Old Lunch), Thursday, 11 July 2019 15:06 (one week ago) link

That book was a lot of fun to read. Really got me thinking about how much my fandom of the band affected me during some big life changes/memories. It's a pretty well written music book and my copy is already lent out.

BlackIronPrison, Thursday, 11 July 2019 15:09 (one week ago) link

maybe like Fred Schneider wound up reading me bedtime stories at some point.

"Goodnight mouse, and Good-NIGHT-HOUUUSE!! Goodnight, KITTENS! Goodnight, MITTENS!"

stan by me (morrisp), Thursday, 11 July 2019 18:34 (one week ago) link

irl lol

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 11 July 2019 18:50 (one week ago) link

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