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 think...er....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 (eighteen 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.

xpost:
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.

blackmail.is.my.life (blackmail.is.my.life), 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.

blackmail.is.my.life (blackmail.is.my.life), 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!

blackmail.is.my.life (blackmail.is.my.life), 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

Deified in their lifetime, but ultimately just a really good (American) band that moved the needle, perhaps less musically, and more as inspiration.

Absolutely moved the needle for me musically. I'm a musician, born in 1968, and in 1984 they were, for me, the number one model of what I wanted to find my way to being ten years down the road.

would you describe something like Son House or Miles Davis as very American kind of music?

Thanks for elaborating on this topic when I didn't. Yes of course on Son House. My immediate reaction to that question re. jazz is that I absolutely see early jazz, big band, and bebop as very American kinds of music.

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 00:08 (two months ago) link

I don't know enough about Miles Davis.

Another thing about R.E.M. is they did what I described without getting too much into working in "traditional" American musical idioms (with some exceptions). They were the "new, weird Americana"...

Yes!!!!

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 00:10 (two months ago) link

Their talent in the early days does strike me in retrospect as having been a revival of some sort of perception of what a rock band unit could be. I've always related the old story about Bertis Downs first seeing them play and thinking, "It's like seeing the Who in 1964" (or whatever he said, exactly) to this.

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 00:38 (two months ago) link

George Harrison called them "the best band in the history of the universe.”
precisely my point-the contemporaneous accounts of The Band suggests that the praise/influence in their lifetime hasn't really matched their subsequent critical stature.

That seems to be occurring with REM as well. don't get me wrong, I love them both, but it would be naive to think their stature has held up to anywhere near the level of the peak adulation during their IRS run. In the back of my mind are Soto's posts on his blog about how his students barely know who they are.

campreverb, Saturday, 14 September 2019 00:43 (two months ago) link

Strictly chronologically speaking, that is like wondering in 1984 what college students knew about music from 1949, though.

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 01:06 (two months ago) link

> REM had six #1 singles!

Nah...even "Losing My Religion" wasn't a #1 song. Are you thinking Modern Rock/Alternative/whatever charts?

j.o.h.n. in evanston (john. a resident of chicago.), Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:20 (two months ago) link

Four top ten US singles, nine top ten US albums.

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:49 (two months ago) link

(Grain of salt on the last two albums, neither of which was RIAA gold.)

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:52 (two months ago) link

Timely!

Three-fourths of @remhq backing Vanessa Hay (@Pylongirl) on “Crazy” by Pylon tonight in Atlanta does the soul good. https://t.co/YfRdC5L908

— Annie Zaleski (@anniezaleski) September 14, 2019

I don't get wet because I am tall and thin and I am afraid of people (Eliza D.), Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:55 (two months ago) link

:D

I am also Harl (Karl Malone), Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:56 (two months ago) link

Wow!

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 03:04 (two months ago) link

yeeeeeahhh

Guayaquil (eephus!), Saturday, 14 September 2019 03:08 (two months ago) link

video of Texarkana plz

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 03:45 (two months ago) link

dying @ Battleship Chains with that lineup, but in a good way

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Saturday, 14 September 2019 04:27 (two months ago) link

Perhaps Uncut gave me a distorted picture (again, the magazine was huge on Americana) because I thought The Band were still big and they got me into them (and they were huge for me). I'm sure they had a free cd of bands influenced/covering/tributing. Drive By Truckers had a gorgeous song about The Band. Maybe they're bigger in the UK as a result?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 14 September 2019 13:45 (two months ago) link

The Band was tremendously influential! virtually a sea change in 60s rock... between that, Basement Tapes and John Wesley Harding they changed the course of rock music from summer of love hijinks to ruralism

I'd say Big Pink might be as influential as any album in rock, especially because it seemed to really shake up a bunch of big stars as mentioned upthread

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 14 September 2019 14:23 (two months ago) link

xps Vanessa is amazing, maybe she could front the R.E.M. Reenactment Society

I don't think R.E.M. ever came close to the Band's collective musicianship, but there are definitely parallels in terms of early canonization and subsequent fading from popular awareness ... in terms of ongoing influence on other musicians, the Band looms much larger

the comparison highlights the fact that R.E.M. never really made a roots/Americana move, in spite of the Byrds influences and and occasional mandolins ... maybe "Rockville" comes closest, but that's not exactly "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

New Wave bands in Georgia c. 1980 had to take a hard line against country, blues, boogie, and choogling

Brad C., Saturday, 14 September 2019 14:55 (two months ago) link

if there's a recording of that set I will pay top dollar just for "Money Changes Everything"

I don't get wet because I am tall and thin and I am afraid of people (Eliza D.), Saturday, 14 September 2019 14:56 (two months ago) link

"Money Changes Everything" was the Brains' sort-of-hit when R.E.M. opened for them in May 1979 ... my first R.E.M. show </bragging>

Brad C., Saturday, 14 September 2019 15:17 (two months ago) link

May 1980, god I am such a poseur

Brad C., Saturday, 14 September 2019 15:18 (two months ago) link

no that’s awesome

#YABASIC (morrisp), Saturday, 14 September 2019 15:31 (two months ago) link

a few nice photos in this review of last night's show

https://atlantaintownpaper.com/2019/09/concert-review-drivin-n-cryin-drive-by-truckers-and-most-of-rem-play-revival-to-benefit-fox-theatre-institute/

Brad C., Saturday, 14 September 2019 15:54 (two months ago) link

I don't think R.E.M. ever came close to the Band's collective musicianship

Sure, but from the other side of the coin, not sure the Band ever made an album as good as Murmur.

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 16:14 (two months ago) link

I think the second album is.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 14 September 2019 16:21 (two months ago) link

I recall reading an interview with one of the Beatles, possibly/probably George, where even though they were all on friendly enough terms they had to always be aware where the rest of their former bandmates were, because they didn't want to all be in the same place at the same time and be pressured to play together.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 14 September 2019 16:28 (two months ago) link

one of the amazing things about early R.E.M. is how well they wrote and played given Buck and Stipe's limited musical experience ... to me Murmur sounds like a young band making a creative strength of simplicity while Music from Big Pink sounds like veteran players doing deceptively simple things

Brad C., Saturday, 14 September 2019 17:52 (two months ago) link

Yes, but I don't think their simplicity should be overstated. Peter Buck has said that he was pushing and playing at the limit of his capabilities in the early years. Mills and Berry could play.

timellison, Saturday, 14 September 2019 18:16 (two months ago) link

Berry is a heckuva drummer. Probably my favorite element of the band, how he excitedly speeds up going into a prechorus or chorus. Maybe that’s a standard pop drummer trick but he did it so well, adding a few beats, not a fill but your heart speeding up, getting to the good part

L'assie (Euler), Saturday, 14 September 2019 18:40 (two months ago) link

There were no replaceable parts in this band. I might even venture that if you had to replace one, they might have still been interesting without Stipe

fremmes with neppavenettes (rip van wanko), Saturday, 14 September 2019 18:45 (two months ago) link

He's kind of the most interesting thing about the band (who are all interesting).

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 14 September 2019 18:47 (two months ago) link

I might even venture that if you had to replace one, they might have still been interesting without Stipe

Warren Zevon has a plan for that!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/19/Sentimental_Hygiene_album_cover.jpg

a bevy of supermodels, musicians and Lena Dunham (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 September 2019 18:57 (two months ago) link

Sentimental Hygiene is often my favorite Zevon precisely because of the paces Zevon puts R.E.M. through on "Even a Dog Can Shake Hands."

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 14 September 2019 19:03 (two months ago) link

There's probably an alternate timeline wherein Stipe fucks off in the late '80s, and the rest of the band becomes the Alt-Rock MG's.

a bevy of supermodels, musicians and Lena Dunham (C. Grisso/McCain), Saturday, 14 September 2019 19:48 (two months ago) link

Was Stipe an obstacle to people liking the band? I heard that before they broke big, but not much afterward until Berry left.

L'assie (Euler), Saturday, 14 September 2019 20:49 (two months ago) link

i can recall, as a kid, hating his voice

don’t remember how or why i came around

mookieproof, Saturday, 14 September 2019 21:52 (two months ago) link

Don't forget this one! (Indigo Girls were the opening act when I saw them on the aforementioned GREEN tour.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvIHhYQ8S8E

I don't get wet because I am tall and thin and I am afraid of people (Eliza D.), Saturday, 14 September 2019 22:12 (two months ago) link

I never noticed it before last week but my college town record store has a bunch of old show flyers on the wall and one of them is for a house party with a band they were hyping as being from the same as Pylon and the B-52s town

joygoat, Saturday, 14 September 2019 23:00 (two months ago) link

xp I think Stipe was essential to their success ... at the start his manic dancing and yelling were practically the whole show, and when they started doing originals he was the main source of their arty mystique ... he can be pitchy and inconsistent on stage, but his charisma is what made them R.E.M.

Brad C., Saturday, 14 September 2019 23:06 (two months ago) link

Yes, although when you watch the video of him singing his new material, it's cool to hear him writing and singing again, but the music is clearly something other.

timellison, Sunday, 15 September 2019 00:49 (two months ago) link

my first big rock show was the Green tour, and I don't think I've ever seen that level of charisma matched since

fremmes with neppavenettes (rip van wanko), Sunday, 15 September 2019 01:11 (two months ago) link

I always loved Stipe's voice. The band was all a cacophony of timbres and jangles that matched my heart. In high school, i would only date people that had that same pull, which was probably a mistake.

Yerac, Sunday, 15 September 2019 01:27 (two months ago) link

Berry is a heckuva drummer.

Berry was always acknowledged to be the primary writer of "Perfect Circle" but were there any other songs that were "his" so-to-speak?

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 15 September 2019 07:46 (two months ago) link

my first big rock show was the Green tour, and I don't think I've ever seen that level of charisma matched since

I saw them at a club in 1983 and even then it was pretty clear that they could easily scale up the show. The year after they played the Palladium, easily 10x the size, and played it like they were in an arena.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 15 September 2019 07:55 (two months ago) link

xp I know Berry wrote Man on the Moon among others

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Sunday, 15 September 2019 08:13 (two months ago) link

‘everybody hurts’ was mainly berry’s

don’t bore us, get to the aeon of horus (bizarro gazzara), Sunday, 15 September 2019 08:36 (two months ago) link

Pretty sure Try Not to Breathe and Driver 8 are also Berry's

cwkiii, Saturday, 21 September 2019 02:04 (one month ago) link

Buck says:

"I remember Bill came up with the verse to 'Driver 8,' and after he showed it to me he said, 'I need to run to the market, I'll be right back.' I think he went to get some beans or rice or something. In the meantime, I came up with the chorus and the intro riff. Bill came back in about five minutes, and it was done. So I played it for him and he went, 'Alright, that's great!' Bill was totally excited.

#YABASIC (morrisp), Saturday, 21 September 2019 02:57 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

“Possibly my favourite band from that era was The Auteurs. Luke Haines and I have just made a record together and I think that’s coming out in the spring. I’d never met him, but we’d just send stuff back and forth and then we went to a show together when I was over in London six months ago. I guess it’ll come out as a Luke Haines / Peter Buck record, it’s hard making up band names, you always have to say who you are!

https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/features/interviews/r.e.m.s-peter-buck-nine-songs-monster

Hmm.

afriendlypioneer, Friday, 1 November 2019 12:02 (two weeks ago) link


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