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September 23, 2011

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Rob Weinert-Kendt

Not because I'm cool but because I'm OLD, the last R.E.M. album I got into was "Document" (I stopped listening around the time you started, apparently), and my favorite is still "Lifes Rich Pageant." For me it's almost like you're talking about a different band, though of course I've heard some of the stuff you mention. I kind of preferred them when you REALLY couldn't understand the lyrics.

Isaac

Yeah, I don't talk about the early stuff here (cut that part out of the draft) because I didn't really listen to it until my 20s. And i think it's amazing, if irrelevant to why I have an emotionally connection to their work. If you think of their career as breaking into three distinct periods (one beginning with Chronic Town, one beginning with Document and one beginning after Bill Berry leaves) they really were kind of three different bands, each one not as good as the one that came before.

Rob Weinert-Kendt

My only question is why you would count "Document" as the start of the second period..."Green" was the dreaded "major label" debut, and that's the one where I stepped off the train and took a break, Driver 8.

Isaac

I think that Green is not aesthetically a huge difference from Document. They're both much rockier. The guitar work and drumming is far more basic on both. They even have similar songs (Turn You Inside Out is essentially a redux of Finest Worksong). They also have the same ratio of good to bad songs. I'd argue that it's simply major label prejudice that keeps Green as the pale that people won't cross.

Dan

Although I'm one of the few bitter defenders of Monster, my all time favorite will always be Reckoning. That got a lot of turntable time.

Ken

Discovered "Reckoning" in summer 1984, and I was a goner. Actually, first heard them through a video, of all goddmann things. The clip for "So. Central Rain," which consisted of nothing remarkable at all, just a performance clip--the guys playing in a shadowy room, with the camera roaming around them, and Michael (I was to find out later) doing his vocals live, not lip-synced. That song so bewitched me, I bought "reckoning" immediately, and a month later got caught up on "Murmur" and "Chronic Town," their debut EP. From "Reckoning" through "Document" I barely listened to much else, and when I did, immediately compared it to the boys from Athens, GA, and whatever that other thing happened to be, I found it wanting. I wanted to listen to nothing else but Peter's jangly guitars, and Michael's arcane, impressionistic words. Everything else sounded too crisp, too eager to be liked, too on-the-nose and literal. R.E.M. was hazy, partially obstructed, muffled, and cryptic. They didn't give themselves away as easily as most pop acts seemed to do, and yet they weren't as aggressively antisocial as punk. They were inviting, yet you weren't really sure what you were being invited to.

Ken

Oh, and if we're ranking:
BEST ALBUM: Fables of the Reconstruction
WORST ALBUM (pre-Bill Berry leaving): Green

The post-Berry work is little known to me. They really went away for me when Bill decided to become a farmer. Although he did bow out on a high-note--New Adventures in Hi-Fi is wonderful.

RLewis

The first time I ever slam-danced I was a freshman in college at unc-Greensboro. Some band from Athens, GA was in town, playing at our local pub. REM. Maybe 2 dozen of us smashing into each other, and I didn't know what I was doing. They were a very different band then, but we all thought they might go somewhere.

Katrina Banaski

I really enjoyed reading this.

Oregon Wild Wood

REM - Insane

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