This is the Thread Where You Bash REM's Monster

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why does everyone hate monster so much?

There are bunch of better than average guitar rock songs on there. Strange Currencies, Tongue, and Let Me In are among REM's best post-IRS work.

MerkinMuffley (MerkinMuffley), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:09 (sixteen years ago) link

The drums are mixed too low, guitars too high. That's no way to make your "return to rock" record.

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:12 (sixteen years ago) link

I refuse to bash this album. It was one of my 10 favorite of all time back around 1996. OK now I'll admit it's probably worse than any of the REM albums that preceeded it but it still has some great shit on it, esp. guitar-wise. I wanna give it up for "Circus Envy."

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Monster isn't too far from being my least favorite R.E.M. album, but I'm not going to bash it.

*waits for a thread about Out of Time*

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:20 (sixteen years ago) link

Monster is better than all of REM's IRS albums except "Murmur".

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Star 69 is underappreciated. Though let's not get too revisionist, Monster still keeps a fairly even keel through the waters of mediocrity.

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:26 (sixteen years ago) link

only REM album I'll truly bash is Reveal. And even then I'd probably spend more time talking about how great "Imitation Of Life" is.

And btw, Geir Hongro thinks Reveal is the best REM album ever. I'll just note that so he doesn't have to.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:26 (sixteen years ago) link

I like New Adventures in Hi-Fi a lot more. Reveal is truly a dog.

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:28 (sixteen years ago) link

Actually, if I was to POO REM singles, it would probably be "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?".

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:29 (sixteen years ago) link

see, to me New Adventures in Hi-Fi is REM's adventure into mediocrity. That album is too long and has too many weak songs. Monster is consistently good and does have some interesting/"innovative" stuff like "You." The chorus of that song is pretty swell imo.

MerkinMuffley (MerkinMuffley), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:34 (sixteen years ago) link

To me, the second most grievous omission from the Best of album (next to "shiny happy people") is "Tongue". I don't even like REM, but I kinda dig that song.

And "Crush with Eyeliner" sucks, but I really like the video.

Phantom Twinkies, Monday, 10 November 2003 02:43 (sixteen years ago) link

My mom used to listen to it when she cleaned the house. I like plenty of it, but I only know a few REM albums. I really like Strange Currencies and the one with the falsetto is really catchy.

Sonny A. (Keiko), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:48 (sixteen years ago) link

better than Fables, Up, and Reveal, worse than the rest though not that much worse than Out of Time really

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 02:50 (sixteen years ago) link

how do you figure, given that Fables is thee best R.E.M. album and everyone knows it? I mean, KOHOUTEK!!!

Aaron A., Monday, 10 November 2003 03:04 (sixteen years ago) link

hatin' on Out Of Time. Shame. That album would be entirely terrific if not for the damn opener. Ok and maybe "Texarkana." But dig that funky bass line! That's the most Mike Mills you'll ever get in one dose ever.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:06 (sixteen years ago) link

Three songs save Monster from the trash heap: "...Kenneth," "Strange Currencies," and "I Don't Sleep, I Dream."

I've understood the love given to "Tongue." *yawn*

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:11 (sixteen years ago) link

er, I've never understood...

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:12 (sixteen years ago) link

R.E.M. generally write good songs. Then it kind of sucks putting the singer so way behind in the mix the actual songs are not heard at all for just guitar noise.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:13 (sixteen years ago) link

ok if there's one thing I'll bash about this album it's probably that the artwork revealed that they'd all basically gone insane and started purchasing goofier sunglasses. Ok, only Michael and Mike looked immediately like they'd lost it, but Peter looks bigger and drunker than before and not long after Bill's head exploded and he decided to be a farmer and never leave his house.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Bill Berry leaves his house all the time!

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:14 (sixteen years ago) link

whew. good to know Peter was just exaggerating in that interview I read somewhere.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:15 (sixteen years ago) link

I used to run into him in grocery stores at like seven in the morning, he'd be all duded up in black leather and sunglasses and I'd think 'real lowkey there Bill'

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:16 (sixteen years ago) link

The nice thing about Monster is you can buy a copy for $3.99 in any record store in America.

It does sound better now than it did in '94. That said, I think history will be less kind to REM than they deserve.

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:16 (sixteen years ago) link

my sister used to ride horses on his land and the dirt road in front of his driveway is a real popular place for Oconee teens to learn how to drive

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:16 (sixteen years ago) link

dude I can't blame Bill. He must see videos like "Lotus" and go DAMMIT, I COULD HAVE BEEN IN THAT!

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:18 (sixteen years ago) link

It's just FUCKING WRONG.

Lynskey (Lynskey), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:19 (sixteen years ago) link

haha! the rem behind the music (dullest ever - "next on behind the music mike mills makes a deadly donation to npr") where he's all 'I leave the band and they make their best record (Up)' is hilarious. I remember the reaction in the press was 'well any other member and the band would be kaput' but alot of people close to the band have told me bill berry had ALOT of ideas and was generally good at grounding or vetoing stipe's bad ideas.

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Berry wrote some of their best songs, IIRC. can't think of any specific examples beyond "Everybody Hurts," which isn't one of my favorites (though I do like it a lot), though.

M Matos (M Matos), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:23 (sixteen years ago) link

I doubt there's anybody except Geir who doesn't wish Bill Berry was still in the group.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Except maybe Bill.

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:28 (sixteen years ago) link

It was the only REM album that made my 90s list. As I mentioned, I was shocked to realize how good it was when I put it on a couple weeks ago.

sundar subramanian (sundar), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:45 (sixteen years ago) link

While "Up" and "Reveal" are IMO among the best they've done, I don't say why they would have been any less good with Bill Berry still in the group. :-)

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 10 November 2003 03:51 (sixteen years ago) link

"Crush with Eyeliner" is fucking awesome, people. So sleazy and leering.

Michael Patrick Brady (Michael Patrick Brady), Monday, 10 November 2003 04:09 (sixteen years ago) link

see, to me New Adventures in Hi-Fi is REM's adventure into mediocrity.

Basically true, but I think "E-Bow the Letter" is one of the finest things they've ever done. REM was officially over for me when I heard the new song they wrote for the Andy Kauffman movie -- the musical equivalent of a faked orgasm.

j.lu (j.lu), Monday, 10 November 2003 04:20 (sixteen years ago) link

It gets a bunch of shit now, but I seem to remember Monster being really well-reviewed when it came out, the songs were nearly inescapable on the radio, and the tour got lots of press.

Wha' happened?

Cat Named Sloopy, Monday, 10 November 2003 05:27 (sixteen years ago) link

At the time, I think people were more interested in the fact Buck had begun playing electric guitars again than they were the album itself. One the novelty faded away, we were left with a collection of songs that really wasn't up to snuff.

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Monday, 10 November 2003 05:44 (sixteen years ago) link

also, didn't they make a big movie out of the tour?

Dave M. (rotten03), Monday, 10 November 2003 06:10 (sixteen years ago) link

I guess I always assumed "Monster" was received fairly well. I probably listen to it more than any other R.E.M. album. Fuck wot anyone says, I love it.

I also like New Adventures in Hi Fi, but moreso for individual songs than the whole shebang. There's half a dozen songs I program out when I listen to it. Definitely not the first six however.

Gear! (Gear!), Monday, 10 November 2003 06:56 (sixteen years ago) link

I like the album's songs. But it's one of my least favorite REM albums because it's at this time that Stipe shaved his head (Corgan, that fucker, soon followed (right?) and they both went to hell), Mike Mills started living in those nudie suits which became a gateway drug to bad bleach jobs and shaggy hair, and too many people bought this album then sold it back in the thousands, making the used cd racks a more terrible shade of orange.

Carey (Carey), Monday, 10 November 2003 07:00 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm pretty sure it did recieve mostly positive reviews initially (RS gave it 4 1/2 stars and it was among SPIN's albums of the year).

I can understand to a degree why some may consider it a mediocre effort, but it wasn't even considered good enough for mediocre reviews - from what I gather, most reviews written after 1994 called this among the worst albums of alltime, and the biggest mistake REM has ever made. It's almost gotten to the point where bashing this album is the equivalent of praising Sgt Pepper.

I enjoy nearly every song, and it's certainly among my 3 favorite REM records.

billstevejim, Monday, 10 November 2003 07:52 (sixteen years ago) link

I thought it was great at the time but I was also drunk that entire year. I don't think I ever listened to it after I sobered up.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Monday, 10 November 2003 08:36 (sixteen years ago) link

"Hmm, tremelo sounds good on this song. Hmmm, tremelo sounds good on this other song. let's do it. Hey, you know, some tremelo would sound good on the new song we're recording here. I say, tremelo gets the thumbs up"

donut bitch (donut), Monday, 10 November 2003 09:13 (sixteen years ago) link

The Samson theory: REM went bad when Stipe lost his hair.

Jonathan Z., Monday, 10 November 2003 09:33 (sixteen years ago) link

I love "let me in". very MBV-ish, love the simple keyboard melody coming in 1/3 of the way through. and stipe's voice breaking out of its mumble to unleash a WAIL. moving stuff, but a lot of this album is just clunky rock.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Monday, 10 November 2003 10:43 (sixteen years ago) link


"I like New Adventures in Hi-Fi a lot more. Reveal is truly a dog.
-- Keith Harris (kharris3...), November 10th, 2003."

Here Here, Keith!
(it's an injoke, folks.)

musicmope (musicmope), Monday, 10 November 2003 11:08 (sixteen years ago) link

Monster received amazingly good reviews at the time of its release. I can't recall a negative one (though admittedly I have better things to do with my time). I suspect that when people say they hate it what they're really saying is that they hate the way White people sounded in 1984.

musicmope (musicmope), Monday, 10 November 2003 11:26 (sixteen years ago) link

That's 1994, of course. In 1984 everyone here who was old enough was listening to "Urgent" and loving it. No wait, I mean Chronic Town...

musicmope (musicmope), Monday, 10 November 2003 11:29 (sixteen years ago) link

No, Monster was a huge letdown for me at the time. My friend Chris and I taped it off the radio--some Seattle station played it the midnight it was released or some such stunt--and we were both all underwhelmed shrugs.

By the way, what's the injoke. I don't get it? Did I make it?

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Monday, 10 November 2003 12:20 (sixteen years ago) link

stipe's in a b-boy stance

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 10 November 2003 22:30 (sixteen years ago) link

BTW they recorded most of NAIHF on the Monster tour. I'd forgotten that.

Joe Gargan (dandydonweiner), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 02:44 (one month ago) link

I wonder if a (not-so-)secret reason they stuck all those weaksauce demos on this reissue was to make a point — “Look how hard we worked to avoid repeating ourselves... We threw out all this stuff!”

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 03:31 (one month ago) link

Yeah it opened them up creatively for sure - it was clear from the Document -> Green -> OOT -> Automatic trajectory that they were self-defining as "folk rock" pretty much, but Monster said you know what? not doing that shit any more, here's something else.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 03:34 (one month ago) link

giving some thought to the notion that the new mix is a troll - this is what you wanted, right? there ya go.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 08:50 (one month ago) link

What a joy of a review, Brad. Beautiful writing, colorful and passionate.

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 13:10 (one month ago) link

^^^^^

Tim F, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 13:34 (one month ago) link

^^^^

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2019 13:52 (one month ago) link

^^^

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 13:54 (one month ago) link

thanks y'all <3

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 13:57 (one month ago) link

i become someone
on command

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 19:26 (one month ago) link

'Monster' is so fucking sexy. It's the sexiest REM album ever, and I have great trouble understanding people who categorically deny this!

The new mix - listened to it tonight - is shit though. Properly shit. Like Brad wrote, it removes or pushes back everything that makes Monster Monster. It smooths over all the rough and ugly and daring edges that made Monster what Monster is. I can't understand Litt doing this again and this being the result; even if it was in his free-ish time, come the fuck on...

It's a mystery to me how thousands of Monster cd's ended up in the $1 bins in the US. Perhaps here in Europe ppl were too ashamed to return their cd, idk? I'm not saying Monster wasn't rejected by some, but nowhere near on the scale like it was in the US. Regardless, this album still steams and rocks. One of those rare albums that will only gain praise and climb higher as time passes.

Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:49 (one month ago) link

I watched this interview y'day; Michael & Mike say that the producers of Friends (the sitcom) wanted to use "Shiny Happy People" as the theme song, and the band said no, so NBC hired another band to do an "R.E.M.-style" song. (This has nothing to do with Monster, other than the time period, but I thought it was funny.)

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:53 (one month ago) link

Pretty good interview and track by track commentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJje9gA9jsI

brotherlovesdub, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:56 (one month ago) link

wait where is brad's review??

weird ilx but sb (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 00:40 (one month ago) link

thank you!

weird ilx but sb (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 00:48 (one month ago) link

yes, terrific.

weird ilx but sb (Doctor Casino), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 00:57 (one month ago) link

It's a mystery to me how thousands of Monster cd's ended up in the $1 bins in the US...


Warners pressed two copies for every living man, woman and child in the country.

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:08 (one month ago) link

The packaging and inserts and stuff in this box are really nicely done.

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:27 (one month ago) link

Wow — in these liner notes, Stipe is really effusive about Michael Hutchence, and what a great friend and influence he was.

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:43 (one month ago) link

Why do the credits for the Scott Litt Remix™ say “Mixed by Clif Norrell”?

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:47 (one month ago) link

The two of them work together, Litt producer and Norrell engineer - so I'd presume the aesthetic decisions were made by Litt and Norrell created the corresponding mixes.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 05:53 (one month ago) link

That’s funny, he’s like — “Clif, turn that knob a little... a little more.... wait, too much”

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 06:07 (one month ago) link

My guess is Litt would handle the "why" and Norrell the "how" - there are lots of nuances in mixing beyond turning things up and down and panning them left or right, not that I am any kind of expert.
I still think the new mixes are a troll and am disappointed I wasn't lauded for my penetrating insight.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 07:07 (one month ago) link

The new mix of "Bang and Blame" somehow brings into focus how much that song is a revisit of "Orange Crush" (but I like "Orange Crush" a lot better)

Guayaquil (eephus!), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 14:50 (one month ago) link

xp I like yr troll theory, but it sounds like Litt really wasn’t happy with the OG mix

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 14:53 (one month ago) link

The fact that the band is doing press for this, or that Stipe neatened his retirement beard and apparently took out the septum piercing, are further indicators that a reunion could be in the works.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:22 (one month ago) link

But it’s only Michael & Mike doing all the things!

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:27 (one month ago) link

It is interesting how heavily this one’s been promoted, though. I’m surprised myself at how much I’ve enjoyed getting back into it

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:28 (one month ago) link

Did they promote all those other reissues? Did Stipe participate? I can't remember.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:51 (one month ago) link

I don’t know, but Peter & Bill didn’t even show up for the liner-notes booklet interview.

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:54 (one month ago) link

I’m surprised myself at how much I’ve enjoyed getting back into it


Yeah same I definitely didn’t think I would find myself listening to Monster this much at the end of 2019

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Wednesday, 6 November 2019 15:55 (one month ago) link

Yep, same here!

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 16:09 (one month ago) link

The album has imo always been exceptionally good and the odd production is both the point of the exercise and one advantage it has over a lot of other ‘90s stabs at making some kind of future rock (vs modern rock).

omar little, Wednesday, 6 November 2019 20:54 (one month ago) link

I’ve really grown to like the remix... with the alternate takes, etc., it makes for a looser, scrappier album; maybe more “musical,” in some ways (insofar as it brings out some of the individual parts). As a complement (not a replacement!), I think it’s a success.

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Thursday, 7 November 2019 01:25 (one month ago) link

The live "What's the Frequency" on this is really fun; I think Mills's goofy harmonies on it probably don't belong on the record but they sound great live, just remind me of REM's history as a band blowing away college parties with dynamite ramshackle classic rock covers

Guayaquil (eephus!), Thursday, 7 November 2019 16:15 (one month ago) link

re:the promotion, I remember a bunch of interviews & things for the Automatic reissue a couple years ago similarly just with Mills & Stipe, but it definitely seems like theyre doing more promo for this for whatever reason.

I really like the "doddering old married couple" dynamic that the two of them seem to have developed. Theres a really funny unboxing video with the two of them going through the monster set and showing almost none of it to the camera, just leafing through the pages and muttering "oh that looks cool, oh look at that, how neat" to each other.

“Hakuna Matata,” a nihilist philosophy (One Eye Open), Thursday, 7 November 2019 17:33 (one month ago) link

Yeah, I find myself liking these guys all over again.

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Thursday, 7 November 2019 17:41 (one month ago) link

Btw- it hit me today that pieces of the vocal melody of "You" are sort of tweaked/recycled from "Fretless" (another great song)

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Thursday, 7 November 2019 17:53 (one month ago) link

I’ve mentioned this release to a few friends (R.E.M. fans) irl... they haven’t heard/bought it yet, but both mentioned that it’s covered in a recent episode of that Scott Aukerman/Adam Scott podcast. Sounds like those guys like the remix, fwiw.

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Sunday, 10 November 2019 03:10 (one month ago) link

Haha, that unboxing video is rather amusing.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Sunday, 10 November 2019 03:34 (one month ago) link

Elsewhere on the Artist 100, R.E.M. debuts at No. 91, thanks to a 25th anniversary deluxe reissue of the band's classic album Monster. The set, which generated the Alternative Songs No. 1s "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and "Bang and Blame," originally spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 beginning upon its debut on Oct. 15, 1994, and re-enters the latest ranking at No. 115 with 7,000 units earned, up 1,237%. The set also starts at No. 2 on the Vinyl Albums chart.

Monster became R.E.M.'s second of two Billboard 200 No. 1s, following 1991's Out of Time. The group disbanded in 2011.

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 04:12 (four weeks ago) link

Interesting that Automatic stalled around #2 (and sold 3,520,000); while Monster hit #1 (but only sold 2,900,000).

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 04:19 (four weeks ago) link

Or maybe not that interesting, I dunno. Automatic was probably kept out of the top spot by some huge album.

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 04:21 (four weeks ago) link

my guess was it was released in the middle of a Garth Brooks run of chart dominance and i was half right; it was released smack-dab around the moment Billy Ray Cyrus' album Some Gave All ended its 17(!) weeks at #1 and gave way to Brooks' The Chase six-week run at the top.

omar little, Wednesday, 13 November 2019 04:33 (four weeks ago) link

Ha ha, Garth Brooks was also my stab-in-the-dark guess

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 04:51 (four weeks ago) link

Monster hit #1 (but only sold 2,900,000)
Ah, but Monster sold another 2,500,000 second-hand (to, rather than from, record shops, but still).

dorsalstop, Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:09 (four weeks ago) link

It's a mystery to me how thousands of Monster cd's ended up in the $1 bins in the US. Perhaps here in Europe ppl were too ashamed to return their cd, idk? I'm not saying Monster wasn't rejected by some, but nowhere near on the scale like it was in the US. Regardless, this album still steams and rocks. One of those rare albums that will only gain praise and climb higher as time passes.

― Le Bateau Ivre, Tuesday, November 5, 2019 10:49 PM (one week ago)

I come across "Monster" in a lot of bargain bins here too. I think the bad reviews turned a lot of people against it. I never bought the album at the time but I heard some of it on the radio and I thought it sucked and REM were doing a big dumb rock move. I did like "Tongue" and "Whats the Frequency" at the time though. I love the album now though (after picking up a copy of it up in a bargain bin a few years ago!)

The World According To.... (Michael B), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:23 (four weeks ago) link

Didn't like it much then (and god knows I tried). Given the tenor of most recent posts here, I was surprised to find how strongly I still dislike it today.

dorsalstop, Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:33 (four weeks ago) link


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