Now that it's remasterd and everything lets do an R.E.M.'s Murmur poll

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Talk About the Passion

Poll Results

A1 Radio Free Europe 4:05 10
B4 Shaking Through 4:30 10
B2 Sitting Still 3:18 9
A5 Moral Kiosk 3:32 7
A6 Perfect Circle 3:30 7
A2 Pilgrimage 4:30 6
B1 Catapult 3:55 4
A4 Talk About the Passion 3:23 4
A3 Laughing 3:58 4
B3 9-9 3:05 3
B5 We Walk 3:01 2
B6 West of the Fields 2

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:28 (eleven years ago) link

It's a toss-up for me between "Sitting Still", "9-9" and "West of the Fields".

Z S, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:30 (eleven years ago) link

i think i like side A better

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:30 (eleven years ago) link

had this on cassette and used to let it flip over and over and over again in the car. i voted Shaking Through because i wanted it to have at least 1 vote.

brotherlovesdub, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:32 (eleven years ago) link

I used to like side A better, but I've come to really love the other side over the past few years.

Z S, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:38 (eleven years ago) link

the production on A is perfect.little less on B
both sides have great songwriting though. and Stipe's voice.

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:42 (eleven years ago) link


kornrulez6969, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:45 (eleven years ago) link

This is one of those albums where 6 or 7 songs (Radio, Pilgrimage, Talk, Moral, Perfect, Sitting, 9-9) have been my absolute favorite at one time or another. If I were to pull it out today and play only one song it would probably be "Talk About the Passion," but I voted for "Moral Kiosk."

Hideous Lump, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:47 (eleven years ago) link

<3 moral kiosk

Matt P, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:47 (eleven years ago) link

Shaking Through, though I say that with some embarassment, and though the real answer is obviously Radio Free Europe. Why don't I own this record, or have any of these songs anywhere? It was the first "college rock" (or alternative or whatever we were calling it back then) record I ever really paid attention to. I loved it to DEATH, played it incessantly, hundreds of times on infinite reapeat until the tape sounded like deep sea diving, and it opened a lot of doors for me -- I'd previously been into, like, The Buggles and Dire Straits. By far the most beautiful, distinctive and cohesive record in R.E.M.'s catalog, though Reckoning comes close.

Suggest Ban Permalink (contenderizer), Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:57 (eleven years ago) link

Came close to picking Moral Kiosk.

Suggest Ban Permalink (contenderizer), Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:58 (eleven years ago) link

i chose Laughing cause of the zero mentions so fat

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:59 (eleven years ago) link

but R.F.E will win i guess

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 18:59 (eleven years ago) link

Toss up between "Radio Free Europe," "Perfect Circle," "Sitting Still," "9-9," and "West Of The Fields." Ended up voting for "Perfect Circle" even though the opening 30 seconds of "West Of The Fields" might just be my fave R.E.M. ever.

"9-9" live >>>>>> "9-9" studio

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:23 (eleven years ago) link

For my money they never came close to touching this again. Reckoning, life's rich pagean, etc. are all fine. Great, even. But Murmur and Chronic Town are pretty unfuckwithable as a mission statement(s).

Tepted by radio, but I know if I listened to it now I could easily be swayed

my inbox so hot (will), Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:36 (eleven years ago) link

Kinda disappointing that, having made the statement, they ended up choosing an entirely different mission.

Suggest Ban Permalink (contenderizer), Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:48 (eleven years ago) link

Passion is the best example for Easter and Dixon masterfull complex production:it's like a 4 different parts of productions (on the verse,chorus,bridge and instrumental) and playing style sticked together smoothly for 1 song.
other songs got it too,blending post punk and folk at the same song (Laughing for example) without sounding unpleasent.

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:50 (eleven years ago) link

9-9 (but I was pleased as punch when they dusted off West of the Fields at the show I saw this summer). Most of this record is better than Radio Free Europe. Waiting for someone to make a case for We Walk.

dad a, Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:54 (eleven years ago) link

it's the only song will Bill Berry on the billiard table

Mr. Que, Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:55 (eleven years ago) link


Mr. Que, Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:55 (eleven years ago) link

Yeah, production really is incredible. I couldn't put a name to what they were doing at the time (this record being my introduction to "post-punk" music), but it blew me away. All the ambience, distance and textural obsession of Martin Hannett's Factory style, but softened, sweetened, blurred into a dreamy haze. That "chock chock" sound the chorus of Moral Kiosk...

Suggest Ban Permalink (contenderizer), Thursday, 11 December 2008 19:55 (eleven years ago) link

^^^Damn right.


Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You, Thursday, 11 December 2008 20:02 (eleven years ago) link

"I couldn't put a name to what they were doing at the time "

hard to put a name for it even today i think.
there are some great examples of production layers, atmosphere and ideas (Eno,Buckingham), but not with influences like patti smith,modern lovers,byrds and gang of four on them

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 20:02 (eleven years ago) link

(sell also:Easter work with Scott Miller)

Zeno, Thursday, 11 December 2008 20:04 (eleven years ago) link

Contenderizer I just attempted to email you through the ILX webmail system. Look for it.

Bimble Is Still More Goth Than You, Thursday, 11 December 2008 20:18 (eleven years ago) link


Suggest Ban Permalink (contenderizer), Thursday, 11 December 2008 20:30 (eleven years ago) link

A great album throughout, but still has to be "Radio Free Europe".

Geir Hongro, Thursday, 11 December 2008 21:42 (eleven years ago) link

this was already remastered by MFSL and sounded awesome, how does the new one sound? anyway still probably my favorite REM album by a hair, I have lots of these songs in my head all the time, it's kind of their catchiest album with the best tunes. I'llhave to think what I like best.

akm, Thursday, 11 December 2008 23:49 (eleven years ago) link

Catapult easily.

NewBeefLover, Thursday, 11 December 2008 23:53 (eleven years ago) link


D'Andrelo, the gay white ex-con (Pillbox), Thursday, 11 December 2008 23:54 (eleven years ago) link

ooh yeah catapult

extremely intoxicated & uncooperative outside a Hooters in Winston-Salem (will), Thursday, 11 December 2008 23:55 (eleven years ago) link

My vote could alternately go to RFH, Pilgrimage, Passion, P. Circle, Catapult, Sitting Still or Shaking Through. This is just one of those albums that's so good that you're all like "Ooh, this is my favorite song" and then the next one cues and you're all like "Waitaminnit, this one.."

An embarassment of riches.

D'Andrelo, the gay white ex-con (Pillbox), Thursday, 11 December 2008 23:59 (eleven years ago) link


D'Andrelo, the gay white ex-con (Pillbox), Thursday, 11 December 2008 23:59 (eleven years ago) link

shaking through

kamerad, Friday, 12 December 2008 00:24 (eleven years ago) link


mookieproof, Friday, 12 December 2008 00:26 (eleven years ago) link

Eno and Buckingham are accurate production touchstones. Even in the rather ashen original CD remaster, you can loads of shit on headphones: high-hats, an unmoored harmony, a tack piano.

Voted for "Catapult." The only song I don't care for is "We Walk," and I can't think of a good reason why.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Friday, 12 December 2008 00:32 (eleven years ago) link

Shaking Through, for so many reasons; to name just two: it has one of the best opening lines ever, and the 'wordless' middle 8 that has such an intensity

Dr X O'Skeleton, Friday, 12 December 2008 00:36 (eleven years ago) link

voted sitting still

akm, Friday, 12 December 2008 00:37 (eleven years ago) link

Not sure if this needed a remaster, I haven't heard any but the original IRS LP & CD I own, and I like the muddy dynamics work for it. Also, my vote went to "Moral Kiosk".

derelict, Friday, 12 December 2008 00:45 (eleven years ago) link

Not a bad track on this record but come on, people, it's "Pilgrimage."

Guayaquil (eephus!), Friday, 12 December 2008 02:05 (eleven years ago) link

If you haven't found their 1983 performance of RFE on Letterman... well, what are you waiting for??

that's not my post, Friday, 12 December 2008 04:20 (eleven years ago) link

:-( I was really looking forward to doing this poll!

Doctor Casino, Friday, 12 December 2008 05:00 (eleven years ago) link

But, anyway, fucking amazing album that I've maybe worn out a bit, but it still sounds great every time. Hard to really have original words about it at this point. In a really hyperbolic web review ("unique churn and mumble") I once wrote this about Stipe's voice:

On this record, it's a complete smokescreen, protecting meaning within a layer of armor on top of the loopy semi-sense of the lyrics themselves.

and this stuff:

But listening to the album, I can't put my finger on just what gives me this overwhelming sense of specialness and magic. Certainly a few songs are key: the loopy "9-9" is perhaps the album's unacknowledged masterpiece, sliding all over the place like it's about to bust its gearbox as Stipe repeats, mantra-like, strange and fearful words [...] The album would also feel far more pedestrian without the upsy-daisy "We Walk," which is so friendly it's sinister, and of course the muffled, driving kickoff, "Radio Free Europe," which seems to have about as much to do with Radio Free Europe as "9-9" does with the number 9.

Of course, don't let all this talk of mystery and hidden treasure let you think that this is some quiet, introspective album. It's full of wonderful nooks and crannies, but it is at heart a rock and roll barnstormer - check out "Moral Kiosk," and "Catapult," two out-of-control trains about to jump the tracks.

So, yeah. When I first got into this album it would have been "9-9" easy, and that's still the best rock song on here, the most Chronic Town thing in the bunch - but it's "Laughing" that I picture when I think of listening to this album, on a cassette walkman wandering around Oxford on study abroad, having no particularly deep appreciation for anything around me but totally digging on flowers, sunshine, and the way the whole world seemed to open up ahead when you have music on headphones and Stipe intoning "Lighted, lighted..." I'm falling back on the same hyperbolic tone as before, which is enough to smother the song I'm afraid. Anyway it gets my vote.

Doctor Casino, Friday, 12 December 2008 05:06 (eleven years ago) link

REM - "Pilgrmage"

Doctor Casino, Friday, 12 December 2008 05:11 (eleven years ago) link

moral kiosk is the enduring favourite, though i like all the tracks on this album immensely

Charlie Howard, Friday, 12 December 2008 06:23 (eleven years ago) link

I'll bet "Talk about the Passion" doesn't get a vote.

Guayaquil (eephus!), Friday, 12 December 2008 07:06 (eleven years ago) link

no idea what to vote for, since i like all the songs but i also like them all best in context with each other. lots of great intros on this record: the opening of "r.f.e," obviously, but also the way "laughing" starts out all stark and bass-y before turning pretty, stipe's voice drifting in from some dark corner on "pilgrimage," the big chiming picked chords on "talk about the passion," the nervous hihat on "shaking through." they knew how to start a song.

tipsy mothra, Friday, 12 December 2008 07:48 (eleven years ago) link

the big chiming picked chords on "talk about the passion"

And the arpeggios!

One of my favorite noodly warmup things on an acoustic. And the reason I voted for it :-)

Passenger 57 (rogermexico.), Friday, 12 December 2008 08:12 (eleven years ago) link

there is really so much good shit on this album. i'm lovin it

Matt P, Friday, 12 December 2008 08:17 (eleven years ago) link

xpost haha that first bit made no sense... edit failure :o

Passenger 57 (rogermexico.), Friday, 12 December 2008 08:21 (eleven years ago) link

Oh damn, so much harder than the LRP poll. I would have voted "Sitting Still" probably. Can't believe "Laughing" was so low.

landfill spectre (wanko ergo sum), Tuesday, 30 December 2008 19:17 (eleven years ago) link

Perfect Circle wuz robbed

Ye Mad Puffin, Tuesday, 30 December 2008 19:22 (eleven years ago) link

ok wtf, here's the order in which I'd have ranked them, could we poll for second, third, etc. I don't really get the love for "Shaking Through" as it's kinda an embarrassing Stipe vocal but maybe that's the appeal? I don't really feel the ballads on this one anyway so maybe that's what I'm missing. Also fuck yeah on the Hib-Tone "Sitting Still", metallic punchiness is a nice way to put it.

B2 Sitting Still 3:18 9
A2 Pilgrimage 4:30 6
B1 Catapult 3:55 4
A3 Laughing 3:58 4
A4 Talk About the Passion 3:23 4
A1 Radio Free Europe 4:05 10
B5 We Walk 3:01 2
B3 9-9 3:05 3
A5 Moral Kiosk 3:32 7
A6 Perfect Circle 3:30 7
B4 Shaking Through 4:30 10
B6 West of the Fields 2

Euler, Tuesday, 30 December 2008 21:56 (eleven years ago) link

Shaking Through is totally embarassing, borderline Everybody Hurts, but it runs me through nonetheless.

served by boot-face (contenderizer), Tuesday, 30 December 2008 21:59 (eleven years ago) link

you people embarrass too easily

kamerad, Tuesday, 30 December 2008 23:15 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

I just bought & listened to this album recently, and I was surprised at how much I didn't take to it. Like seriously, I thought it was going to be like Chronic Town (which brought the awez), and instead it reminded me of highly unengaging albums like Document and Out of Time...

to these ears: Remy Zero's first album>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Murmur.
I guess I just don't get it

I am Robertson Speedo (Drugs A. Money), Thursday, 26 March 2009 18:50 (eleven years ago) link

DAM: Had to be there, maybe? I dunno. I was just floored when I first heard Murmur in the mid 80s (I discovered R.E.M. late). That energy and jangly guitar and big beat and gothic Southern vibe all sounded familiar, but somehow like it was floating in from outer space.

Too bad they've fallen so far since their pretty-damn good mid-career stuff.

Daniel, Esq., Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:05 (eleven years ago) link

Had to be there, maybe?

yeah, that's what I'm thinking...I heard and liked Fables decently and Chronic Town and Automatic are amazing, but I'm beginning to suspect that I think R.E.M. is shit...

I am Robertson Speedo (Drugs A. Money), Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:13 (eleven years ago) link

You really need to distinguish between early-R.E.M., mid-career R.E.M., and late-career R.E.M. They're fairly distinct, in terms of their sound and the quality of their work.

Daniel, Esq., Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:17 (eleven years ago) link

early = CT + first four albums

mid = Document thru Up

late = everything afterwards...

is this what you mean?

I am Robertson Speedo (Drugs A. Money), Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:26 (eleven years ago) link

I'd put Up in late-career (everything after Bill Berry left). Otherwise, yeah.

Daniel, Esq., Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:27 (eleven years ago) link

stuff I like from all 3 periods:

Chronic Town EP, Driver 8, prolley a couple other trax from Fables, Disturbance from the Heron House, King of Birds, Strange - the Wire cover, Losing My Religion, Texarkana, Shiny Happy People (mainly for Kate Pierson), ALL of Automatic, What's the Frequency Kenneth?, E-bow the Letter

I am Robertson Speedo (Drugs A. Money), Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:33 (eleven years ago) link

only E-Bow the Letter, Driver 8, and the Chronic Town EP are on a patch with that first Remy Zero album tho...

I am Robertson Speedo (Drugs A. Money), Thursday, 26 March 2009 19:35 (eleven years ago) link

four years pass...

Does "We Walk" have a vibraphone? I don't remember hearing it before!

timellison, Monday, 30 December 2013 04:19 (six years ago) link

five years pass...

not gonna blow anyone's minds here but what a fucking album am i right

jolene club remix (BradNelson), Sunday, 17 March 2019 21:37 (one year ago) link

You're completely correct, of course!

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Sunday, 17 March 2019 21:50 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

empty prayer, empty mouth

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:28 (eight months ago) link

cambien du temps?

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:29 (eight months ago) link

take the steps to dash a worried heart

reggie (qualmsley), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:31 (eight months ago) link

When I was in high school, I assumed a "moral kiosk" was one of those four-sided bulletin board things (with little roofs to keep the flyers dry) you see on college campuses... because R.E.M. was a "college band"

jeanie bueller energy (morrisp), Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:32 (eight months ago) link

combien, combien, combien du temps

Michael Stipe and I were in the same Elementary French class in 1980; he sat very quietly in the back and seemed to be hiding under his long hair. While I was struggling with pop quizzes, he was probably writing cool lyrics.

Brad C., Tuesday, 5 November 2019 21:42 (eight months ago) link

somehow gets better every time i listen to it

american bradass (BradNelson), Saturday, 9 November 2019 18:05 (eight months ago) link

it’s an incredible album, there’s nothing else quite like it

Titanic was cliched Marxist crap. (bizarro gazzara), Saturday, 9 November 2019 18:40 (eight months ago) link

I always imagine Lucy in her booth, dispensing advice to Charlie Brown, whenever I think of the phrase “Moral Kiosk”.

sctttnnnt (pgwp), Saturday, 9 November 2019 19:16 (eight months ago) link

Brad C., that’s awesome!

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Saturday, 9 November 2019 19:18 (eight months ago) link

Minty breath, minty mouth
It’s Gumby in reaction
Minty breath, minty mouth
Talk about the passion
Gumby in
Gumby in
Gumby into town

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 9 November 2019 19:42 (eight months ago) link


Irae Louvin (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 9 November 2019 19:53 (eight months ago) link

he was probably looking out the window murmuring “combien de temps?”

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Saturday, 9 November 2019 20:14 (eight months ago) link

I remember our TA very sweetly congratulating him on a story in the student paper about his band

from early 1980 to the release of Murmur was a long time in R.E.M. years

Brad C., Saturday, 9 November 2019 20:31 (eight months ago) link

It must have been astonishing to watch their trajectory after that. And the B52s of course.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Saturday, 9 November 2019 20:32 (eight months ago) link

we were such tiny children we took it for granted

the B-52s were the only frame of reference and they were rarely in Athens by that time

Brad C., Saturday, 9 November 2019 20:39 (eight months ago) link

Just looked up official lyrics to Shaking Through, and concluded that the ones I made up in my head over many years are much better. I had forgotten how great Laughing is precisely because he sings something like 'Largeing' or logic?, so I never can put title to tune. It you can't be a great lyricist, be an ambiguous one. Wonderful instrumental work in 9-9 - in fact right through the album. The song that hit me most emotionally was Perfect Circle. It's the way that depressed, wallowing verse transforms into an upbeat country jangle, always got me there.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Tuesday, 12 November 2019 15:56 (seven months ago) link

i always knew he was saying “lighted” in “laughing” but for decades i have been assuming “Laocoön” was “your rocker mom”

american bradass (BradNelson), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 16:10 (seven months ago) link

Michael Stipe and I were in the same Elementary French class in 1980

this isn't quite as impressive, but as i was traveling yesterday i stopped in a collinsville, IL for gas and a filet of fish value meal at mcdonalds. turns out Collinsville is where michael stipe graduated from high school!!!!!!!!!

at home in the alternate future, (Karl Malone), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 16:20 (seven months ago) link

You cannot fuck with this album.

― Mr. Snrub, Monday, December 15, 2008 6:38 PM (ten years ago)

I can remember the exact moment I first heard the 7" version of "Radio Free Europe" on my friend's mom's car radio, they stood out right from the start

Book Doula (sleeve), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 16:33 (seven months ago) link

'we walk' is probably objectively the least-good song on here, but that hasn't stopped me from singing it in my head every single time i walk up more than one flight of stairs.

kanye kendrick frank kendrick frank kanye (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 16:34 (seven months ago) link

thinking about stipe in a college classroom really reminds me one of the amazing and distinctive things about them - maybe sometimes aided by not always being able to hear clearly - which is how stipe's lyrics and delivery managed to convey a ton of maturity and wisdom or at least lived experience from people who were actually quite young at the time. the earnestly political stand-taking songs, and a handful of over-reaching or too-literary metaphors, are the only ones that really jump out to me as "young man's" lyrics, and in that vein they're way less distracting than most. mostly it's this great and confident scramble of half-remembered college course stuff (Lessing's Laocoön essay, "the consul a horse," etc.), folk tales or things that feel like folk tales, and weird southern idiom overheard by an arty California transplant .... and it ends up being poetry, where either of those things by themselves would feel affected at length.

weird ilx but sb (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 17:23 (seven months ago) link

wonderful post Dr C

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 19:11 (seven months ago) link

It is still a pretty astonishing debut album; I can't think of anything quite like it.

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Tuesday, 12 November 2019 23:46 (seven months ago) link

If I started an R.E.M. cover band, I'd call it "Dreams of Elysian"

quinn morgendorffer stan account (morrisp), Wednesday, 13 November 2019 00:21 (seven months ago) link

five months pass...

Seem to recall that I had a cassette dub of a bootleg with this on it, but with considerably worse fidelity. Pretty amazing to hear. I think the difference in the guitar sound is as almost as significant as the presence of the dreaded synthesizer.

timellison, Wednesday, 15 April 2020 20:10 (two months ago) link

do not like

morrisp, Wednesday, 15 April 2020 20:27 (two months ago) link

that makes me sort of queasy

imagine if every song on Murmur sounded like that

Brad C., Wednesday, 15 April 2020 21:05 (two months ago) link

boy that's missing a lot of momentum. not sure if it's the performance or the mix or what. the rhythm section doesn't feel locked in. stipe's vocals are dangerously easy to make out. mills's have echo on them which loses the reedy, byrdsy texture that's so key to the IRS-era records.

the synth isn't horrible imo but it's hard to add an element to a super familiar song and it does make them sound less unique. like without the murk and the kudzu they sound a lot closer to their obvious post-punk peers, like early U2 or idk The Teardrop Explodes...? it's weird. i dunno this recording works better for me as it goes on, but they so obviously made the right choice with Easter that even before i looked up the full backstory on this i was like "the hell, how would you record Chronic Town and then get amped up that your next record should sound like this? well, they didn't.

Doctor Casino, Thursday, 16 April 2020 00:43 (two months ago) link


Three Hundred Pounds of Almond Joy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 16 April 2020 00:52 (two months ago) link


Three Hundred Pounds of Almond Joy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 16 April 2020 00:52 (two months ago) link

Even the arrangement of the song is worse — the omission of the initial “Oooooooh....”s; the backing vocal lines coming right on top of each other in the chorus, with no breathing room...

morrisp, Thursday, 16 April 2020 01:20 (two months ago) link

Er I like this more than the studio version. But I would, considering how much I prefer U2 and the Church and similar groups to REM. Super curious to hear any other tracks Hague did for them.

Vinnie, Friday, 17 April 2020 00:42 (two months ago) link

I don't really mind it either. Though "less unique" is OTM.

Nag! Nag! Nag!, Friday, 17 April 2020 01:16 (two months ago) link

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