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RE: The relevance of R.E.M.
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:03 pm
What the fuck about R.E.M.? Seriously...
Here's a band that at one time meant the world to me and now...I could give a rat's ass about if they called it quits; In my mind, they were finished immediately after the release of "New Adventures In Hi-Fi."
Some background for the under-thirty segment: R.E.M. was once a band that was "the shit" as you might say. When "Murmur" was released, the album was unlike anything that you heard of. A certifiable classic and, still, one of the most groundbreaking debuts in rock history. "Reckoning" continued the enigma; we (the fans of what we called "college rock") struggled to understand what the fuck Michael Stipe was actually saying, recreated the guitar parts of "Wolves, Lower" while we smoked bong hits, and essentially felt the quartet was fairly cool. "Fables" was a letdown, but they seemed to bounce back for "Pageant" and "Document." By the time they signed to Warners, we let them go. Sure, it was a drag to hear your Mom singing the words to "Losing My Religion," but what the hell: we had the "Radio Free Europe" Hib-Tone single, holmes.
So at what point does a band like R.E.M. go from "important" and "vital" to "even the original fan base doesn't give a shit about their latest release. For real: I didn't even know they had an album called "Around The Sun" until I looked up their discography on Wikipedia.
Under 30's: I'm looking for your thoughts on this band. Like 'em? Don't care? Reply about it. And explain why. I'm curious.
Over 30's: What happened? Don't give me this "'Reveal' was actually a good album" bullshit. It wasn't. We all know it. Besides, it's going to be a boring read if we start listing the tracks from "Up" that you like. The fact is: these guys haven't managed to score a platinum record in a decade here stateside. And before you start ranting on the "good doesn't neccessarily mean big sales" crap, go take a look at the ever-growing R.E.M. titles in the used cd bin. The hipsters aren't even keeping their promo copies anymore...
This topic may have been discussed before, but I don't care; I need to find out why I can't get top dollar for all of this rare R.E.M. shit I've been hanging on to forever...
CHRIST HAS RISEN!
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:14 pm
When I started to become conscious of music as a child and started to form my own opinions, I didn't like R.E.M. This was somewhere between "Stand" and "Losing My Religion". It wasn't until high school that I began to realize what made them so affecting.
Currently, I love some of their stuff "Nightswimming," "At My Most Beautiful," and could do without some of their stuff. I'd call them important, as they had a large effect on college and indie rock.
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:25 pm
REM was THE coolest band ever - and by "ever" I mean "at the time". "Green" was pretty much it for me... all of a sudden Michael Stipe could afford to indulge his sillinesses. They were no longer feeling that relevant to me while they embraced their popness. Shiny Fucking Happy People? Stand? I even hated "Losing my Religion", it's baffling and it still makes me angry. What's with the eye-paint? If you can't give me Wolves, Lower or at least give me Driver 8 then give me nothing asswipes.
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:51 pm
r.e.m. is a big band for me. one of my favorites. i grew up on them and loved their music. their i.r.s. days were great. they made some amazing records then. when they singed to warner they were still relevant. green was just as good as document. out of time wasn't the greastest, but it was still good. automatic is probably their best album. since then their music has been spotty, but no less relevant. i'm one of the few out there who happen to rank reveal in their top 3. i don't think that r.e.m. now are as good as they were in back in the 80's, as around the sun was sort of weak. but i still think that r.e.m. are a great band. they've had some bad records, but almost every band does. part of the problem now is that r.e.m. linger over the recording of an album too long.
they used to go in the studio and knock stuff quick with all the air and mystery about them still intact. and the songs were just as fully formed as if they spent forever in the studio getting it right. now their albums take too long to make and they're not near as rocking as they once were. yet the new songs rock and sound so amazing live. somehow they're not able to capture that feeling in a studio and this is due in part to their loss of bill. they don't want to outright replace him. so they don't really know what to do. it's like their lost.
of course they don't have to "rock" necessarily, but it's just not the same. one of the reasons that a lot of fans have lost touch with r.e.m. is that they've grown up and their fanaticism with the band may not have grown with them. could this be due to r.e.m. making a lot of bad records? maybe, but i think it's more than that. sometimes the bands we love don't sound as good as they did in high school/college. it doesn't mean the band is any less relevant or that they suck. we've just moved on is all. but i still love them as much as i did back in highschool. and they've done some amazing songs recently. their song i'm gonna dj, which is unreleased, is amazing. i still love r.e.m. and always will. they're as relevant to me today as they were when i first heard them. it's there, but it's getting lost in translation.
i hope all of that makes sense. i really have something i want to say on this subject, as it is near to me, but my computer is being the shit head it's been all day. *eyes hatchet in the corner*
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 10:04 pm
Murmur was one of the first tapes I ever bought (or maybe my dad bought it for me), and I immediately liked it. That's a fan-fucking-tastic record, even more so when you understand its general significance in the scheme of scenes like college rock and indie rock.
Then I didn't like anything ("Shiny Happy People," "Everybody Hurts," "Losing My Religion" - you can keep 'em) again until I heard "What's the Frequency Kenneth" off Monster, and proceed to buy and enjoy that record. However, my interest soon faded and I came to regard it as an alt-rock artifact and actually sold it back.
Later I bought Automatic For the People on the advice of people on this site, and now regard it almost as highly as Murmur, although in a completely different way. I also own Eponymous, which is a pretty good collection of their earlier stuff.
REM had some great moments but lack the consistency to push them up to the next level.
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 10:17 pm
what are the r.e.m. albums that you currently own or have listened to?
Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:01 am
REM was it for me. The first band I ever discovered on my own, the first band I ever spent hours reading over the lyrics, the first band I ever consumed as voraciously as possible. I pretty much feel like my taste in music hinges solely on the year I discovered REM.
I became a fan later, between the Automatic and Moster albums. I got Monster for Christmas during the 8th grade. By the summer of that year, I had every studio album. I didn't fall in love with the IRS stuff immediately. But by the time New Adventures came out in '96, I was studied enough to know that while that record was pretty good on its own, it came from a different band. And eventually, I came to love that younger, mysterious, immediate young band more than the older wiser bigger version.
10 years later, I probably list Lifes Rich Pageant as my favorite record, although I think the first 4 songs on Fables is the most amazing short sequence of songs ever. Document makes me think of being 15 and deciding, sitting in my grandparents attic, that I wanted to be a musician. Those IRS albums are REM to me.
Although I'm not saying that once they switched to Warner, they sold out and sucked immediately. I love Automatic, I still love Monster (Am I really a minority here? It's a really fun, fucked-up, swaggering major label rock album. Truly left-field for a band of their prominence at the time it was released.) And I would list UP as my other favorite REM album; it's flawed, but it's an album I connected with immediately and admire very much.
I wish they'd called it a day after UP though, because Reveal and Around the Sun have been major major disappointments (Around the Sun especially...I find it unlistenable). They're so far now from where they started, and I just don't see that they're looking to start writing with the immediacy and energy that they had 15-20 years ago. Like G5AM said, they labor on their records too long now. Their writing process seems fractured, with Stipe running around the globe and Buck churning out these little demos in Seattle and Mike Mills doing fuck knows what, and then trying to slap together work from three different pages in the studio. They've gotten sappy, limp, and irrelevant. They're too reliant on writing these chin-up, wise-man, introspective, heart-on-booksleeve dirges that just make me want to wretch.
I think they deserve serious props in the rock history books, because when they were good, there was no one better. But unfortunately, their most recent efforts have underscored this fact.
Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 2:04 am
I gave up on 'em after 'Green. - they started losing it before, but very slowly. I think 'Document' was the last album I really liked. Their early albums are alt rock classics. So what happened? Hell if I know. Commercial success sure didn't help 'em any.
They lost that dark, spooky feeling their early stuff had, and a lot of the mystery went out from their sound.
True story: a bar my buddy and I frequented used to sometimes let us play our tapes on the PA if it was a slow night. I remember one time we put on 'Reckoning', and everyone hated it. Like, threatening to walk out if we kept playing it.
2 years later we were back at the same bar, with the same staff, and they had 4 REM singles on the jukebox. Including '7 Chinese Bros.'
Not long after that, I actually heard a muzak version of 'Stand' in the grocery store, and I knew it was over.
Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 7:43 am
Stipe's voice and lyrics are what made them the delicious glazed ham they once were. But I think it's his fault what happened to the band over the years. Peter Buck should have quit and formed a long-term rockband and rocked our socks off!
Posted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:04 am
A friend of mine played <i>Murmur</i> for me in late 83, and I saw them on the <i>Reckoning</i> and <i>Fables</i> tours--with all those underground bands (Dream Syndicate, 3 o'Clock, True West) as openers. They were perfect to close out high school and begin college. The fade began for me after <i>Pageant</i> with much of <i>Document, Green, Out of Time, Automatic</i> hitting me as really good but not great any more. I can do about 3 songs from <i>Monster</i> before getting bored.
I saw them again in September 2003, because Wilco was opening, and it was entertaining enough. But as far as just putting on <i>Hi Fi</i> or <i>Reveal</i> for fun? It's not going to happen for me. They came, did their thing, should have gone sooner.