I just recently got as a gift the Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982 - 2011 collection that spans all of R.E.M.'s career. After listening to it, I thought it right to create this thread to recognize that a very important band's career just ended. It'd be a nice way to thank them for what they have done for you.
I would to start off with their first big single and their last single
Radio Free Europe - one of the first indie releases.
I have also stolen this from Mr. Shankly because he put it so well. I am sure he won't mind as a fan that I did and if so please let me know and I'd be happy to remove, but first a quote from one of their greatest admirers, whose last listen was R.E.M.
"I don’t know how that band does what they do. God, they’re the greatest. They’ve dealt with their success like saints, and they keep delivering great music."- Kurt Cobain
Mr. Shankly wrote:
Even though I took my BEA moniker from a Smiths song (another band that had a big influence on me growing up), R.E.M. is my second favorite band of all time and my favorite band that has existed within and throughout most of my lifetime. They have meant so much to me over the years. They have been the soundtrack of my life and have affected me in ways I can't even put into words.
They were not just a band, they were a new identity, a movement, and pointed the way toward a new direction for music. Without R.E.M., Nirvana wouldn't have been as big, the indie and alternative explosion of the 90's wouldn't have happened the way it did, and the indie aesthetic would have never have made its way into the mainstream like it has nowadays. Like the Velvet Undergound before them, and who influenced them, R.E.M. has influenced and inspired countless great bands (Radiohead, for example). For these reasons, I believe a strong argument can be made that R.E.M. is the most important rock band of my generation, generation X. (Notice I didn't say "popular" or "widely loved") Why? Well, for one thing R.E.M. showed indie bands how to go mainstream without completely losing their souls and identities. They were literally trailblazers in this sense. R.E.M. said, "You can have it your way if you have principles, can stick to your guns, and are willing to work for it. R.E.M. showed bands how to be a democracy and that a band is always greater than the sum of its parts. Also, most of their music was mysterious, thoughtful, creative, and yet still had a pop sensibility that was accessible to people. I don't like bubblegum pop, but I also don't like overly pretentious, affected art rock with no pop sensibility either. I like the R.E.M. aesthetic best.
Having said all that. I do think the timing is right. I think Collapse into Now is a strong album, but when you really listen to it, it's obvious that they are starting to repeat themselves, and yes, their best years are behind them. RIP R.E.M. You gave so much, and music fans are all better off for it.
This was the best article I read in remembrance of R.E.M.:
Around the Sun: High Speed Train
Automatic for the People: Sweetness Follows
Collapse Into Now: Oh My Heart
Dead Letter Office: 1,000,000
Document: The One I Love
Fables of the Reconstruction: Life And How To Live It
Life's Rich Pageant: Cuyahoga
Monster: Bang and Blame
Murmur: Talk About the Passion
New Adventures in Hi-Fi: Leave
Out of Time: Country Feedback
Reveal: All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)
Up: can't decide between Lotus and Hope
You left out Reckoning, a pretty essential album, Seth.
As for the last question, as a fan of most of their career, I would still say the first era, unquestionably, is the best. Automatic for the People is a classic, but I don't think Out of Time is.
Favorite song off each album:
Chronic Town: Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)
Murmur: Sitting Still
Reckoning: (Don't Go Back to) Rockville
Fables: Driver 8
Life's Rich Pageant: I Believe
Document: It's the End of the World (As We Know It)
Green: You Are the Everything
Out of Time: Near Wild Heaven
Automatic for the People: Nightswimming
Monster: I Don't Sleep, I Dream
New Adventures in Hi Fi: So Fast, So Numb
Up: You're in the Air
Reveal: Imitation of Life
Around the Sun: Boy in the Well
Accelerate: Hollow Man
Collapse into Now: It Happened Today
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