TS: R.E.M.'s "Life's Rich Pageant" vs "Document"

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I'm as bored of REM thread as the rest of you, but I just threw these two albums on for the first time in aeons and, whaddya know, Life's Rich Pageant was the winner, as expected.

In retrospect it augurs a rather uneven period from which they didn't emerge until the release of Out of Time, but it's one of the very, very few albums where a band writes songs chronicling a nascent political consciousness without choking on its own farts. "I Believe," "These Days," and "What If We Give It Away" seem even more hopeless today than they did in 1986. The lyrics can be ghastly, but the playing is consistently superb, like in "The Flowers of Guatamala," which is one of the best Velvets imitations ever written (Bill does Moe Tucker pitter-patter, Peter does his best Sterling 12-string glisten). And the throwaway cover ("Superman") would be the career highpoint of many a band.

As for Docment...the second side is pretty damn weak. Only "Finest Worksong" and "Exhuming McCarthy" on the A rock/swing as much as, say, "Just A Touch."

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 01:24 (thirteen years ago) link

Pretty OTM. Lifes Rich Pageant (they didn't use an apostrophe, right?) is also a better sounding record. What was the story w/ Gehman again? Did that want to use him for the album after this, too, but he decided not to do it?

They were a little short of material going into both of these albums, weren't they? Resorting to using two of their old songs on LRP and, as you say, the weakness of side two of Document.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 01:30 (thirteen years ago) link

Never liked Document. And fuck "It's the End of the World As We Know it".

And Life's Rich Pageant has "Just a Touch" on it, which rules (despite the Patti Smith homage), so it wins.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 01:54 (thirteen years ago) link

As for Docment...the second side is pretty damn weak

Dude, "King of Birds"!!

Mr. Snrub, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:04 (thirteen years ago) link

Really no contest. Lifes Rich Pageant was arguably the most complete LP they'd ever put together. Shifting from buzz-saw grind ("Begin The Begin") to rousing anthem ("These Days") to Chronic Town post-punk skitter ("Hyena") to minor-key leadbellied elegy ("Swan Swan H") should never look so easy, and never would again, though they'd explore all of those modes at greater length.

The proof: I didn't even have to repeat any of the tracks Alfred namechecked. Plus, is that a triangle on "Cuyahoga"?

Document doesn't suck though. I'll big-up "Disturbance At The Heron House" for badassitude, lyrical silliness, a solo that burns bright and brief, great vocal overdubs, and "Fireplace" for spinning millenial menace from Shaker simplicity.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:07 (thirteen years ago) link

minor-key leadbellied elegy ("Swan Swan H")

I'd say minor-key leadfooted elegy. Until "So Fast, So Numb," their worst song.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:10 (thirteen years ago) link

Hmmm. This is hard.

LRP has my all-time favorite REM track - "Fall On Me." Document has my second favorite - "Welcome To The Occupation."

I viscerally hate two songs on LRP - "Hyena" and "These Days." I also hate two songs on Document - "Fireplace" and "Oddfellows Local 151."

But I like the LRP drum sound more, so LRP wins on a technicality.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:11 (thirteen years ago) link

I personally consider "I Believe" and "Superman" to be two of the greatest, most rockin' songs this band EVER did, so I vote for Pageant.

Mr. Snrub, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:12 (thirteen years ago) link

I'm gonna go put it on now.

Mr. Snrub, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:12 (thirteen years ago) link

The inaugural post is otm. All I would add is that "Fall On Me" is still my favorite song of theirs.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:13 (thirteen years ago) link

Tight race, I think I'd have to give it to Document. LFR has more tracks I don't need to ever hear again - the bombast gets a little echoey (the organ!).

'Twan (miccio), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:14 (thirteen years ago) link

Were people bothered at the time that REM had arena'd up their sound with LFR or did the progression seem natural? I'd guess that compared to Michelob ads they still sounded less than crass.

'Twan (miccio), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:18 (thirteen years ago) link

LRP i mean

'Twan (miccio), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:19 (thirteen years ago) link


LRP is my favorite REM album, hands down.

PeopleFunnyBoy (PeopleFunnyBoy), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:25 (thirteen years ago) link

x-post

there is some mythical construction wherein this album is the breaking point for early fans. but i'm not sure if it's true.

Jeanne (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:28 (thirteen years ago) link

Were people bothered at the time that REM had arena'd up their sound with LFR or did the progression seem natural?

No, because Fables was so damn slow and boring. It was good that they started rocking again.

Mr. Snrub, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:29 (thirteen years ago) link

At this stage in their career Don Gehman gelled with the rest of the band with less fuss than Scott Litt (although I'll admit the theory isn't fair to Gehman since he only worked on them for one album).

TS: "Rain On The Scarecrow" vs "I Believe"

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:32 (thirteen years ago) link

I went through the same thing this summer, remembering why I liked them after a dozen or so years of utter tripe. For years my line was always that Document was my favorite. So maybe it's reflex that I'm still not convinced that there's not more going on there than Lifes, which is just a bit too straight-ahead for me. (Although it was only with Green that I felt like they'd sold out.)

All that said, it was Lifes that I listened to over and over this year. Although "King of Birds" is awful compelling.

Mitya (mitya), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:36 (thirteen years ago) link

but fables is the best album. it's mainly subtle and dark, especially on the almost too perfect 'kahoutek' which they never seemed able to duplicate wiht it's softness and sly ghostly appeal whereas latter albums found them big and obvious. i suppose there is appeal in that but i don't see it any more. of the two i would choose life's rich pageant although i think 'exhuming mccarthy' is the best song on either album.

green is the record that broke the spirit of a lot of "older" fans, but it's actually fantastic and they are crazy.

keyth (keyth), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:39 (thirteen years ago) link

I remember a little predictable grousing in some places about "selling out" in re: LRP. As someone who bought it the week it came out -- if not the day, it depends on whether I was able to convince a parent to drive me to the record store -- I thought the grousing was nerts. I loved the record, played it nonstop for weeks. And I was happily shocked when "Fall on Me" got a little play on the local rock station.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:40 (thirteen years ago) link

(But then I like pretty much everything through Automatic to varying degrees, so I'm too much of a fanboy to be a good gauge.)

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:42 (thirteen years ago) link

REM sold out when they started releasing LPs.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:43 (thirteen years ago) link

These are two of my favorite REM records, but I think I'm going to have to go with LRP as well, but only by a hair.

Mitya, Green is my favorite! (xxxpost, ;)

Also, I will fight for "End of the World as We Know It" any day of the week!

regular roundups (Dave M), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:44 (thirteen years ago) link

I understand why keyth was disappointed, but I can imagine (with "imagine" being the key word; I was 9 when Fables was released) being mighty bored with REM around 1985. Mellencamp's ownr I-was-born-in-a-small-town album (Scarecrow) was better than Fables.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:44 (thirteen years ago) link

LRP has been my favorite REM record since the day it came out - although I rarely listen to it (or any REM) anymore.. But I think it's an almost perfect alt-pop record, except for Superman, which I can just barely stand.

I've always loved 'Disturbance At The Heron House' .. and yes.. Oddfellows - something perverse about it.. The album has held up better than I might have expected.. I only have patience for about 12 REM songs anymore, and two or three of them are from Document, which is a pretty good record.


(xposts .. Fables .. I'll save that for another thread...)

R.E.M. U.N.K.L.E. (dave225.3), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:44 (thirteen years ago) link

I like pretty much everything through Automatic to varying degrees, so I'm too much of a fanboy to be a good gauge.

No, no, this is totally OTM. It would be even more OTM if you could swap Monster for Out of Time.

rogermexico (rogermexico), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:45 (thirteen years ago) link

Begin the Begin > Finest Worksong (close)
These Days > Welcome To The Occupation
Fall On Me < Exhuming McCarthy
Cuyahoga > Disturbance at the Heron House
Hyena > Strange
Underneath the Bunker (too short to match, but kind of great)
The Flowers of Guatemala < It's the End of the World...
I Believe > The One I Love
What if we give it away < Fireplace
Just a touch >>>> Lightnin' Hopkins
Swan Swan H < King of Birds (close)
Superman > Oddfellows Local 151

And it's LRP 6-4 + whatever credit attaches to Underneath the Bunker. Very gratified to see so much love here for "Just a Touch" -- the one song I'd really have liked to see them play.

LRP and Document were probably my two favorite R.E.M. records in 1991, but "The One I Love" and "End of the World" haven't aged as well as some of the other hitzzzz (though the great ending of EotW sneaks it past Amanita still.) I think Murmur beats both of these.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 02:58 (thirteen years ago) link

LRP is odd for me. Not bad odd - I totally love it. Green was the first tape I bought, and my brother had Document, so that was my basis. As I explored R.E.M., I got LRP, and it took me a while - the punkiness of it was off-putting to my young ears.

But with time, I came to see it as what it is: a - may I say this? - tour de force of R.E.M.'s strengths. It's like a showcase of their considerable powers. "Fall on Me" (Michael's favorite, as you may know) is essence of R.E.M., with Mike Mills harmonies and jangling (I'm a rock critic!) guitars. And the rest of the songs already cited showed how R.E.M. could swing from folk to rock and back again.

So yeah, it's an odd little album. It's weird, because its perfection somehow, oddly, makes it forgotten. It seems like it's universally acclaimed, yet rarely discussed. Almost taken for granted.

But that may just be me.

Justin, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:22 (thirteen years ago) link

As a matter of fact, those are two of my least favourite R.E.M. albums. "Life's Rich Pageant" has "Fall On Me" though, which is enough to put it ahead of "Document".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:26 (thirteen years ago) link

LRP wins this by a large margin, though i loved document more at the time of release. and "king of birds" is one of their most beautiful songs.

it augurs a rather uneven period from which they didn't emerge until the release of Out of Time

green is better than both of these and out of time.

TS: "Rain On The Scarecrow" vs "I Believe"

"Rain on the Scarecrow" kicks just about any song's ass up, down and sideways.

my name is john. i reside in chicago. (frankE), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:34 (thirteen years ago) link

"but fables is the best album. it's mainly subtle and dark, especially on the almost too perfect 'kahoutek' which they never seemed able to duplicate wiht it's softness and sly ghostly appeal whereas latter albums found them big and obvious."

I might agree with this. Actually, I think Fables WOULD HAVE been their best album if it had been produced better.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:46 (thirteen years ago) link

"I Believe" is a great vocal performance.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:52 (thirteen years ago) link

It's a great song with an almost-great vocal -- a vocal which isn't as articulate as the surrounding guitar/accordian effects (when Stipe says, "I believe in time as an abstract mumble mumble," you think he's implicitly apologizing for Gehman's black-and-white production by alluding to his earlier mannerisms).

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:57 (thirteen years ago) link

Lifes Rich Pageant pisses over Document from a great height.

Vinegar and Artichoke Hearts (Bimble...), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 03:59 (thirteen years ago) link

Do you really hear "mumble mumble" in that line? It always sounded pretty clear...

rogermexico (rogermexico), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 04:07 (thirteen years ago) link

The only word that seems unclear to me is "I believe the holes are ... " Shifting? Slipping?

So Alfred are you saying it's only almost-great because some of the lyrics are opaque? Might have been full-on great if he'd been saying something more explicit?

I saw them do it live a couple of years ago and he was talking about how he never gets to catch his breath in the song and (goofing) fell down when it was over.

Do it sound to anyone like a different take punched in when he gets to the line "Trust in your calling?"

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 04:14 (thirteen years ago) link

Haha "do it sound." *Does* it sound.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 04:15 (thirteen years ago) link

I loved, loved, loved Document when I first got it on cassette from a yard sale in around '96 or '97. As it stands, though, it's probably the REM record I pull out the LEAST often now, except maybe Green. (I'm including Reveal here; I never got the last one...) There are some great songs in there - McCarthy, Disturbance, ITEOTWAWKI - in fact, throw in Lightnin' Hopkins, Fireplace, and Oddfellows and it seems like can't-miss material...really The One I Love is the only One I Hate. It all goes south in the listening, though, and I'm going to say it's the production. There's a general tinniness, especially in the outsize drums, that I suppose is typical for the period but REALLY doesn't serve REM's sound at all. They can do big, crisp production (Out of Time) or big, lush production (Automatic) just fine but just giant-sizing everything in the rock quartet doesn't work for them at all.

Lifes Rich Pageant, though I've burned out on bits of it a little, and NEVER liked What If We Give It Away, is just packed with great songs that SOUND great. No contest.

Doctor Casino, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 04:38 (thirteen years ago) link

The only word that seems unclear to me is "I believe the holes are ... " Shifting? Slipping?

always thought it was "i believe the poles are shifting"

hstencil (hstencil), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 04:39 (thirteen years ago) link

LRP, definitely. It was my first REM album, acquired on tape at Goodwill for $1. "The Flowers of Guatemala" is so lovely, as is "Fall On Me." I even like "Underneath the Bunker." Document just sounds worse, and is too damn repetitive, in a bad way. "Disturbance at the Heron House" is really nice, though.

clotpoll, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 06:56 (thirteen years ago) link

Better than both, in my view, is Fables of the Reconstruction, their immediate predecessor, starting with the immortal Feeling Gravity's Pull.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 10:26 (thirteen years ago) link

I'd give Lifes Rich Pageant my vote. It's probably my second or third favourite REM album.

Greig (treefell), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 10:35 (thirteen years ago) link

rogermexico and Tim OTM throughout. Dr. Casino OTM on the sound of Document - it does seem thin at times and the drums boom. I guess it *was* 1987 though.

But yes, LRP is pretty much perfect - great songs, lots of variety, stellar lead and backing vox and a really punchy, garagey sound. No duff tracks, in comparison with the wretched 'It's the End Of The World', and the dull Fireplace and Lightnin' Hopkins. I'm not sure about Exhuming McCarthy either. I hated it at first, but now I think it's a half-written curio, perhaps not bad, but sub-standard definitely. I've always loved Welcome To The Occupation - great vocals on that, especially near the end : 'Listen To Meee, LISTEN to MEEE'.

I also think that Fables might be the best of the lot though.

Dr.C, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 11:22 (thirteen years ago) link

dammit, i'm at work and now i just want to go home and play these albums. the sweet intoxication of Fall on Me, recalling how i used to sing along to the backing vocals in my car....

Dr XO'Skeleton, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 13:06 (thirteen years ago) link

So, LRP is the clear winner.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 13:36 (thirteen years ago) link

fall on me i sone my fave rem tracks. these albums are good but not great
both have 3 brilliant songs, 3 great songs , 3 good songs and not a track i don't / can't listen to . "green" is more consistent.

retrogurl, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 13:52 (thirteen years ago) link

o Alfred are you saying it's only almost-great because some of the lyrics are opaque? Might have been full-on great if he'd been saying something more explicit?

It's his enunciation that's imprecise.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 13:55 (thirteen years ago) link

Michael Stipe was much better when you couldn't understand a word he was singing, in my view. That's why Shaking Through from Murmur remains utterly gripping and mysterious, especially the wordless?? middle 8, while Andy Are You Goofin On Elvis is....not

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 14:29 (thirteen years ago) link

That was true until Fables of the Mumble-Mumble; then it became clear that Mr Stipe needed either speech lessons or emergency surgery to remove the giant kudzu stuck in his throat.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 6 December 2005 14:33 (thirteen years ago) link

maybe these mmphhh and lannnnngennnmph may be misunderstood...

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 6 December 2005 14:57 (thirteen years ago) link

That was true until Fables of the Mumble-Mumble; then it became clear that Mr Stipe needed either speech lessons or emergency surgery to remove the giant kudzu stuck in his throat.

It was the label. IRS figured the only thing keeping R.E.M. from mainstream success was Stipe's mumbling, so they insisted he start enunciating.

Sara Sara Sara, Tuesday, 5 February 2008 20:43 (eleven years ago) link

major label correct non-shockah

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Tuesday, 5 February 2008 20:57 (eleven years ago) link

S'gotta be LRP - classic mid-early-late vintage material! The one thing i can add about the Document-era releases is that they finally starting putting out those live acoustic versions of tunes like "The One I Love" that exposes the seething underbellied truth of an otherwise sing-songy Top 40 hit. These proto-Unplugged tracks might reference the Dylan-esque penchant for reinterpretation, but my hindsight sees a crew running out of spunk.

Daniel Esq notes the loss of the "Southern Gothic rock sound" and while i don't necessarily identify with the terminology, the Farmer's Almanac brand of black magic that they wielded became only a waning influence after they began mainlining their sound & image. Moving to the city (if only in sprit) was certainly a measure of it's time and maybe even a fashionable construct - nonetheless, it was most certainly a world away from the backwoods shacks and headlight-lit two-tracks that inspired their inception. Too bad, tracks like "King of Birds" packs the full weight of their skill and hints at something that could have been a truly foreboding and ominous (if not completely inaccessible) force.

christoff, Tuesday, 5 February 2008 21:14 (eleven years ago) link

For whatever reason, Document is the one I listened to least of everything through Monster. I mostly know it from it just playing in the background at parties in college (I wish I had gone to better parties), even though I've had it for a long time. So Lifes Rich by a long ways.

Mark Rich@rdson, Tuesday, 5 February 2008 21:59 (eleven years ago) link

They played something from Document on the radio today and I just kinda rolled my eyes "oh man they were so past their prime by then". Lifes Rich Pageant is still a fantastic album, but I admit the production hasn't aged very well.

I'm sure there's a couple of decent tunes on Document, at least that's the way I recall it, but I really feel like to sit through that entire record again would be a waste of my time.

Bimble, Wednesday, 6 February 2008 04:51 (eleven years ago) link

I say they've reached their "Shaquelle O'Neal 2008" stage of their career (aka anything decent we get from them at this point is a bonus).

AND WE'RE TRADING O'NEAL! If only R.E.M. could be traded for something more vital, as well.

Daniel, Esq., Wednesday, 6 February 2008 06:57 (eleven years ago) link

ten years pass...

Document was always my least favorite of the classik R.E.M. albums -- it's the only one I never even bothered to buy on CD, even at the height of my high-school fandom (I just made do with the cassette) -- but I've found myself compelled to listen to it lately. It sounds oddly good to me now, fsr. (I still think there are some whiffs on side 2; I'm not into R.E.M. gettin' funk-ay, etc.)

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:25 (one year ago) link

I like it better now than I did at the peak of my R.E.M. fandom. Sure, it's frontloaded and drops in quality a bit after 'The One I Love', but I'll take things like 'Fireplace' over lesser tracks from the post-Berry albums.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:33 (one year ago) link

I'd take any other 80s R.E.M. album over Life's Rich Pageant. Easily the "worst" of their classic run.

(V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:35 (one year ago) link

Yeah I don't think "LRP" has aged particularly well... Neither has "Fables," IMO (though it has a few key trax).

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:37 (one year ago) link

Fables is my go-to R.E.M. album. Far and away the best thing they ever did.

(V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:43 (one year ago) link

!

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:44 (one year ago) link

I've went in the other direction with Lifes Rich Pageant in that I don't feel the need to listen to it these days, but that's because I've played the shit out of it. Lifes Rich Pageant is frontloaded too, but manages to not make the drop-off as obvious. The only track that I don't have much time for on it is 'What If We Give It Away?' ('Underneath the Bunker' doesn't count!) ...

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:46 (one year ago) link

New Adventures in Hi-Fi is the best album they ever made!

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:46 (one year ago) link

While it is a very good album, no.

(V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:49 (one year ago) link

Yes.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:53 (one year ago) link

IRS run

"chronic town"
fables
murmur
pageant
reckoning
document

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:54 (one year ago) link

Reckoning near the bottom? Interesting - that's probably my favourite of all the IRS albums. Chronic Town still sounds incredibly fresh to my ears too.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 17:59 (one year ago) link

Surprised you guys rate Fables so highly... It sounds really uneven to me now.

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:02 (one year ago) link

30+ years later I suppose it doesn't matter so much, but I distinctly remember there being a half-baked feel at the time with 2 key tracks (Hyena and Just a Touch) regularly appearing in setlists, an instrumental, cover, etc.
doesn't really matter much now, the album coheres in a way that didn't seem as evident upon release.

probably worth noting to the comment above about how much LRP gave way to the sellout chorus: Dead Letter Office was widely loved at the time and I think part of that may have been the self-deprecating tone.

still, I'm in the vocal minority of fans that thinks Side 2 of Document is one of the weirdest, best and most pure (last?) distillations of the IRS-era band.

campreverb, Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:05 (one year ago) link

xp (I do think "Life and How to Live" it is one of their greatest/underappreciated tracks)

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:06 (one year ago) link

Surprised you guys rate Fables so highly... It sounds really uneven to me now.

― i’m still stanning (morrisp)

Their worst of the first decade, i.e. mushiest and least distinguished

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:06 (one year ago) link

I like Fables... a lot, but it's nowhere near my Top 5 R.E.M. albums overall.

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:08 (one year ago) link

No album that leads off with 'Feeling Gravity's Pull' can justifiably be classified as the "least distinguished" of a band's output.

(V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:14 (one year ago) link

still, I'm in the vocal minority of fans that thinks Side 2 of Document is one of the weirdest, best and most pure (last?) distillations of the IRS-era band

i respect what you're saying but to me green (major label debut notwithstanding) is the last stand of that band, with callbacks and everything ("i can turn you inside out" <-- "finest worksong"), and "strange" is one of my least favorite of their covers (except for the "michael's nervous and the lights are bright" update)

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:17 (one year ago) link

No album that leads off with 'Feeling Gravity's Pull' can justifiably be classified as the "least distinguished" of a band's output.

― (V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin)

Depends what you think of a man who sings "It's a Man Ray kind of sky" srsly

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:21 (one year ago) link

The opening line of that song is v good, tho

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:25 (one year ago) link

Depends what you think of a man who sings "It's a Man Ray kind of sky" srsly

And yet, you remembered it.

I can't remember any of the lyrics from Life's Rich Pageant.

(V) (°,,,,°) (V) (Austin), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:43 (one year ago) link

but I'll take things like 'Fireplace' over lesser tracks

lol i will definitely be belting out "fireplace!" from here on out when listening to this album in the car.

andrew m., Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:49 (one year ago) link

And yet, you remembered it.

So? I remember Dubya speeches and the names of old boyfriends too.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 18:58 (one year ago) link

but I'll take things like 'Fireplace' over lesser tracks

lol i will definitely be belting out "fireplace!" from here on out when listening to this album in the car.

my memory failed me and turns out i'm not funny at all and am totally wrong. i'm turning in my True Distiple card and bowing out.

andrew m., Wednesday, 25 July 2018 19:10 (one year ago) link

Austin, gah. Fall on Me, Swan Swan Hummingbird, Superman... and nothing memorable in there, lyrically speaking? Okay.

Personally I love all these records like children; I'm not gonna be tempted to take any sides any time soon. Document, Fables, Pageant, Murmur, Reckoning: all of a piece for me and all necessary. Then a transitional mid-period. not sure whether Green or Out of Time is the correct hinge point, but Automatic is definitely mid. Then what I would classify as their late career (Up and beyond) when I lose the plot and mostly stop caring.

nonsensei (Ye Mad Puffin), Wednesday, 25 July 2018 19:12 (one year ago) link

Yeah they're all quite rad in their own ways though I think the sonic chemistry of the Easter/Dixon records they did at Reflection (Murmur and Reckoning) was stratospheric.

timellison, Wednesday, 25 July 2018 19:39 (one year ago) link

I like Man Ray kind of sky Alfred...

timellison, Wednesday, 25 July 2018 19:40 (one year ago) link

That song was one of the ones where you knew that even if the production on their records was changing, they were still growing and getting better. They were like completely different on that tour!

timellison, Wednesday, 25 July 2018 19:41 (one year ago) link

turning in my True Distiple card

lol Andrew

timellison, Wednesday, 25 July 2018 19:43 (one year ago) link

Document" is my least fsvorite and "Pageant" my most favorite of the IRS years. But in reality my most played REM over the last decade or so is "Dead Letter Office"! Such fun, that one...

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:15 (one year ago) link

Fables is my favorite REM LP too.

"Man Ray kind of sky" may be corny, but it just sounds good and Stipe seemed to value that over anything

antisocal (rip van wanko), Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:34 (one year ago) link

still, I'm in the vocal minority of fans that thinks Side 2 of Document is one of the weirdest, best and most pure (last?) distillations of the IRS-era band

idk about best/pure, but i like it a lot and it is indeed pretty weird

mookieproof, Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:38 (one year ago) link

With hindsight I dont really understand why they needed to release an album every year?

Capitalising on momentum is one thing but not quite the same when you're short of original material

Master of Treacle, Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:47 (one year ago) link

the custody battle over these albums is going to be complicated. a lot of claims out there.

i love LRP. there are plenty of lyrical moments that grab me on it, and plenty to beguile, as well. within the first few seconds of the album, he's already referencing the apostrophe-less title of the album, sort of, and cole porter's 'begin the beguine'

Karl Malone, Thursday, 26 July 2018 00:51 (one year ago) link

Austin, gah. Fall on Me, Swan Swan Hummingbird, Superman... and nothing memorable in there, lyrically speaking? Okay.

fuckin "cuyahoga" and "these days" too

princess of hell (BradNelson), Thursday, 26 July 2018 01:05 (one year ago) link

when you're short of original material

not seeing it

mookieproof, Thursday, 26 July 2018 01:07 (one year ago) link

It is remarkable how they released all those classic albums, one per year, from ‘83 – ‘88.

i’m still stanning (morrisp), Thursday, 26 July 2018 01:14 (one year ago) link

Sax solo on “Fireplace” is so good.

timellison, Thursday, 26 July 2018 01:35 (one year ago) link

Document is a slight dip on the preceding 4 for me, and Fables is probly still my default favourite, but on the whole i think they're all great records that have a couple of duff tracks each maybe but people can't agree on which tracks those are

the Joao looked at Jonny (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 26 July 2018 01:58 (one year ago) link

Murmur will always be my favourite R.E.M. album, hearing it after only knowing Automatic + Monster + various hits was such a revelation to me but LRP is a close second and probably the one I listen to the most. Lyric-wise it's definitely one of their most memorable for me (caveat: I'm not a huge lyrics person), lines like "I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract" pop into my head a lot. But yeah really none of the IRS records are less than great.

Gavin, Leeds, Thursday, 26 July 2018 10:09 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

a mean idea to call my own
a hundred million birds fly away

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:41 (two weeks ago) link

a meager thing, recognition

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:10 (two weeks ago) link

I miss the days when there were so many R.E.M. threads we were bored of them.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 22:10 (two weeks ago) link


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