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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen 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 (nineteen years ago) link

More like cynicism / sarcasm, I think, Mark.

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

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

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

Anybody got "Reveal" yet? Thoughts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PC Zeppelin really

once they moved from dance clubs to theatres

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

Bill Berry is the hottest of the bunch.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 5 October 2020 19:55 (three weeks ago) link

Peter Buck looks like an ILXor now.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Monday, 5 October 2020 19:59 (three weeks ago) link

Not any one in particular, just generically.

Donald Trump Also Sucks, Of Course (milo z), Monday, 5 October 2020 19:59 (three weeks ago) link

Bill and Michael both look “old“; Peter and Mike look like they’re “drawn by a different artist” or something.

I Hate the Aedes (morrisp), Monday, 5 October 2020 20:44 (three weeks ago) link

Bob Pollard was a big fan as evidenced by his early records, and he gives a shout out to Cat Butt in the song “Pendulum”...I always wondered if it was a reference to the band of that name or a wink to R.E.M.

error prone wolf syndicate (Hadrian VIII), Monday, 5 October 2020 23:52 (three weeks ago) link

Probably was; that's a pretty key piece of R.E.M. lore. (I'm no GBV scholar, but always thought "The Official Ironmen Rally Song" sounded like R.E.M.)

I Hate the Aedes (morrisp), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 00:01 (three weeks ago) link

I hadn't thought of that before but yeah can hear it in the melody...

Stuff like this all over the self-released stuff:

error prone wolf syndicate (Hadrian VIII), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 00:09 (three weeks ago) link

Ugh I thougt all I had to do was back out the "s" in https?

error prone wolf syndicate (Hadrian VIII), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 00:10 (three weeks ago) link

error prone wolf syndicate (Hadrian VIII), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 00:10 (three weeks ago) link

That song exploder episode is lovely. Would be nice if those interviews were part of a longer piece?

thomasintrouble, Tuesday, 6 October 2020 07:31 (three weeks ago) link

i don't think this is new info, so even if you don't believe them, this is what they've said they thought about it for ages[]

Sure, the story just doesn’t really make sense – “We fought the label hard to make this the lead single, b/c we thought it was a weird little song that wouldn’t likely connect with people.” It would be interesting to hear a different take on the scenario, after all these years. NBD though.

In a Dutch tv-interview for the "Part Lies..." release, Stipe said that LMR was meant as the lead-up to "Shiny Happy People", which Warner Brothers thought was the hit-single of the album.

EvR, Tuesday, 6 October 2020 07:56 (three weeks ago) link

It was the bigger hit in the UK so Warners weren't completely wrong

thomasintrouble, Tuesday, 6 October 2020 08:13 (three weeks ago) link

Co-signing the love for the song explorer episode on Losing My Religion and esp. Bill Berry. Loved his reaction to hearing the handclaps in the playback of a rough mix/demo and then in the actual song, something he could not recall at all and was flabbergasted to hear

willem, Tuesday, 6 October 2020 08:21 (three weeks ago) link

^^^^ that moment was an absolute delight

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 09:35 (three weeks ago) link

paired well with stipe having to be handed the lyrics in order to remember them out of context

turn the jawhatthefuckever on (One Eye Open), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 13:25 (three weeks ago) link

& getting dewy-eyed as he slowly read through them, or was that when he listened to his isolated vocals, idk I may be misremembering

willem, Tuesday, 6 October 2020 14:08 (three weeks ago) link

I too had no idea there were handclaps in that song.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 15:00 (three weeks ago) link

This article has a little backstory on the episode's "mini reunion":

“R.E.M.’s team said, ‘We don’t ask Bill to do very much because this is not something he likes to do, not something he’s comfortable with. We think this is going to be special so we’ve asked him, and if he says yes could you please be, could you just be cool?’” Hirway recalls.

“They were like, ‘If you screw this up, you’re going to make things difficult for us for a long, long time.’ And our ask was not only for us to do an interview but also if he would play his drum part of ‘Losing My Religion’ so we could film it and have him talk about it. It changes the way someone talks about a song when they actually have it in their muscles again and they perform it. And he did… he was game for all of it. He actually played drums for us on camera.”

I Hate the Aedes (morrisp), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 15:30 (three weeks ago) link

is it possible that bill berry is actually cool with most things but the REM team is overprotective and paranoid?

(i understand the context of his leaving the band and all of the PR bullshit behind)

president of my cat (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 15:38 (three weeks ago) link

as an Athens guy the same age as Michael, it made me really happy to see them as they are now ... they appear to be more invested in their friendship than in their past success and look suspiciously like people who have figured out how to live

xp Berry is not as big a hermit as that quote implies; he's been working a lot recently with Love Tractor

Brad C., Tuesday, 6 October 2020 15:43 (three weeks ago) link

It's still surprising to me considering how close these guys remain that they haven't recorded an album on the sly, w/o the pressure of touring or doing any press or anything. Just hang w/ Bill for a few weeks and everybody goes back to their corners... They'd make a zillion bucks.

error prone wolf syndicate (Hadrian VIII), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 15:46 (three weeks ago) link

As with many REM songs, I hadn't truly considered the meaning of the lyrics before watching this. I have them memorized backwards and forwards and I *like* them, but they've always seemed somewhat impressionistic and stream of consciousness. Hearing Stipe contextualize them just snapped this song into focus - something I never would have thought possible, 29 years later.

sctttnnnt (pgwp), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 17:59 (three weeks ago) link

Berry is not as big a hermit as that quote implies; he's been working a lot recently with Love Tractor

― Brad C.,

Certainly his scenes in the film show him loving tractors.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 18:02 (three weeks ago) link

but not in a pervy way

while my keytar gently bleeps (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 19:25 (three weeks ago) link

Hearing Stipe contextualize them just snapped this song into focus

Whereas I found Stipe's read of the lyrics to be totally unconvincing! I don't know what it means, but not that.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 6 October 2020 19:30 (three weeks ago) link

The best part of the episode was the unexpected appearance of Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Bowie during the "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" film footage.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 18:19 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, I had never heard of that connection (so now there's a throughline from the Sakamoto piece -> "Losing My Religion" -> "thank u, next"!)

I Hate the Aedes (morrisp), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 18:23 (three weeks ago) link

my favorite part was when they played the isolated backing vocals to stipe and he said "is that mike and bill? fuck. they're so good." otm

mellon collie and the infinite bradness (BradNelson), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 18:54 (three weeks ago) link

Awww, these guys are so great. This makes me wish there was a full length history of REM doc.

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 19:39 (three weeks ago) link

I like how Peter Buck is so in awe of Bill Berry's drumming. He is a massively underrated drummer.

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 19:41 (three weeks ago) link

He's kind of one of the great rock band drummers. More than once I've seen him seem to mess up a show, but his grooves and beats are really idiosyncratic and original.

She Thinks I Will Dare (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 19:46 (three weeks ago) link

He's never flashy, but he adds that bounce that's the x-factor in their music.

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 20:05 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, his accelerations into choruses make those choruses explode. I love that so much.

All cars are bad (Euler), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 20:07 (three weeks ago) link

Listening to Green today, I was struck by something I never consciously noticed before (but which may not be true?) -- namely, Bill's drumming has more "swing" on that album than any other R.E.M. album.

Am I "OTT" (on the tractor), or have I fallen off?

I Hate the Aedes (morrisp), Wednesday, 7 October 2020 23:32 (three weeks ago) link

I think there's that swing lurking in all of his playing, but maybe gets lost in the jittery faster tempos of the earlier albums.

Mr. Cacciatore (Moodles), Thursday, 8 October 2020 01:11 (three weeks ago) link

just watched the song exploder thing, really well done and man is it cool to see bill play that drum part for a few seconds.

call all destroyer, Thursday, 8 October 2020 02:47 (three weeks ago) link

xp Yeah - he was by no means ever a stiff drummer, but I think he has a feel in the rockers on Green that's not present even in the "funky" songs toward the end of Document. You can really hear it in "Pop Song '89," "Orange Crush," "Turn You Inside-Out," etc.

Guitar Dick (morrisp), Thursday, 8 October 2020 20:42 (three weeks ago) link

watching the Song Exploder now ... awesome stuff ... i welled up at parts.

listening to Stipe's unaccompanied vocal - and watching him listen to it - really highlighted how incredible his performance is

this is gonna throw me into a major R.E.M. kick

alpine static, Friday, 9 October 2020 03:17 (three weeks ago) link

I have for sure been re-immersing myself for the first time in a while... CT, Murmur, Reckoning, LRP, Green, Monster - all sounding great.

Guitar Dick (morrisp), Monday, 12 October 2020 21:54 (two weeks ago) link

Maresn3st, Monday, 12 October 2020 21:58 (two weeks ago) link

I think Niimi's "Murmur" book pointed out something that I'd never noticed, which is that Berry definitely was listening to (sorta label mate) Stewart Copeland, and I think that's where some of that swing came from. It's certainly where the ride cymbal accents come from on tons of the band's music, even "Losing My Religion," I think.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 12 October 2020 22:07 (two weeks ago) link

heard Nightswimming on the radio Sunday and goddamn if that song doesn't kill me every time

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 12 October 2020 22:51 (two weeks ago) link

xp yeah "Laughing" could be a Copeland drum part

assert (MatthewK), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 00:28 (two weeks ago) link

heard Nightswimming on the radio Sunday and goddamn if that song doesn't kill me every time

heard that one over the weekend too and yeah, what an amazing song. wild that REM at the time was like the biggest band in the world, making this beautiful, vulnerable, weird music.

tylerw, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 01:35 (two weeks ago) link

This version of Nightswimming slays...

that's not my post, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:04 (two weeks ago) link

Interesting points about Bill, thanks. I was listening to Chronic Town today, and realized that “Stumble” basically has a disco-rock drum part.

Guitar Dick (morrisp), Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:12 (two weeks ago) link

The biggest similarity between Copeland and Berry is the relationship between hi hat and snare, at least in the Chronic Town/Murmur era

Another thing Berry does is hitting the snare and a rack tom together on the 4 after the snare on 2 or sometimes both on 2 and 4

Master of Treacle, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:20 (two weeks ago) link

"The One I Love" is a pretty Copeland-y part, especially the ride work.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 02:45 (two weeks ago) link

yeah, that was just lovely xxxxpost ... thanks for posting

alpine static, Tuesday, 13 October 2020 05:44 (two weeks ago) link

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