Re. REM: Discovered them via "Late Night" a short time before Reckoning came out. They played "So. Central Rain," but they claimed as they introduced it that it was so new, they hadn't named it yet. Got Reckoning as soon as it came out and then went back and got Murmur. My metal-loving stoner friends were completely perplexed. They even could understand the Jam and ska thing easier than they could grasp REM. Must have been the lack of guitar solos. Anyhoo, they could do no wrong for me through Document. Green was a little iffy for me, but still had some wonderful songs, and I enjoyed Out of Time, Monster and Adventures just fine, but they are a band that has been around for a long time and I think, like with most bands, they are just running out of interesting ideas. They still manage fine songs and performances on pretty much every album, but my reaction is always "So what?" For me, it's a combination of me having moved on to a ton of other bands and the creative well getting shallower and shallower for the band. It happens. They'll always be a favorite though, and those first five albums, though I consider Fables to be pretty spotty and the first chink in their armor, are fucking monsters.