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Old 01-18-2010, 08:55 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm excited! Obviously I have their entire collection already (including books and DVD's) but I'm looking forward to other people's opinions. Thanks Rickenbacker!
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RezZ View Post
Rickenbacker: This may be a bit much of a request, but would you be down with making a compilation album of there discography. Basically picking 12-15 tracks from there studio, live, bootleg, or whatever sources you may have?

I have been trying to get into REM lately and so far its been just a jumbled mess.
I was actually planning on making two compilations; one of their IRS years stuff and another of their Warner Brothers stuff. Is that cool? The two halves are very different so I think this would be the best way to understand them. Also, you can download the "key tracks" by clicking them.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickenbacker View Post
Born and raised in the swamps of Athens, Georgia, a small town that would soon be made famous as the college music capitol of the United States, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Bill Berry would find that they were not fit for the small town life lay ahead. Together they founded a band and after opening the dictionary and choosing the best word on the page in front of them they named it R.E.M.
Just a minor quibble but none of the members of REM were born or raised in Athens, all of them grew up elsewhere and moved to Athens in their late teens/early twenties.
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:37 PM   #14 (permalink)
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You're right, had something else written and forgot to change the rest. Will fix. Thanks for the tip

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Old 01-18-2010, 02:28 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickenbacker View Post
I was actually planning on making two compilations; one of their IRS years stuff and another of their Warner Brothers stuff. Is that cool? The two halves are very different so I think this would be the best way to understand them. Also, you can download the "key tracks" by clicking them.
wuuuuuuuu thanks!
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Murmur
Released 1983
I.R.S. Records


Well here it is. R.E.M.'s debut full length record was released in 1983, shocking fans and critics with its masterful blending of Feelies jangle-pop and haunting lyricism delivered in Michael Stipe's austere mumble. For many, the buck stops here for R.E.M. With iconic songs like "Talk About the Passion" and "Radio Free Europe", Murmur is widely seen as the crowning achievement of the band and among the greatest and most significant debuts in music.

Mixed so that no instrument would stand out, Murmur may not reveal its excellence upon first listen. While the album certainly has its share of on-target and upbeat college pop songs a la Chronic Town, such as the undeniably catchy and equally indecipherable "Catapult" and the single "Radio Free Europe", which was re-recorded for the album at the request of I.R.S. records, Murmur's genius lies in the tracks in which the band steps back and sets their angst aside.

"Take a turn, Take our fortune"

Such is the opening line of "Pilgrimage", expertly delivered by a distant sounding Mike Mills, bassist and backing vocalist for the band. With this cryptic line, the song descends into a plodding bass-led masterpiece about none other than a two-headed cow. "Speaking in tongues/ it's worth a broken lip", Stipe sings. Perhaps there is a grain of truth to this statement. Murmur's lyrics may be nonsense when read aloud, but in the context of the album they fit perfectly. Unlike any other album up to that point, Murmur managed to be vocally overwhelming based not on the talent of the vocalist, but on the mystical nature of the lyrics. As such, Michael Stipe is a brilliant lyricist. Not in the conventional sense of course, but rather in his sheer ability to make a piece like "Pilgrimage" make some sense.

Murmur's diversity is exemplified in its experimentalism. Sure, Pilgrimage is wild for its mysticism, but even stranger still is the incredibly beautiful "Perfect Circle". It is easy to dismiss "Perfect Circle" as a simple slow ballad, but it is so much more than that. I may go far as to say that it's my favorite R.E.M. song, if only for it's stunning ability to convey so much with so little. Again, it's not hard to dismiss the song, but it's really one of the best out there. As with any good song, when given repeated listens, one notices certain aspects that you never realized before. The song begins with a hypnotic and accessible, yet strangely different sounding keyboard which is played throughout. Second, that chorus is absolutely gorgeous. "Standing two soon, shoulders high in the room"? That might be the most gorgeous line Stipe has sung even if only for it's delivery. Thirdly, the guitar comes in towards the end and the sound is incredible. Peter might be using an E-bow here. Not totally sure, but the effect is ethereal. Also, by the middle, the drum mix switches from left to right in this really cool way. Not sure how else to describe it. Anyway, it's a beautiful song, but much more than just that. That's what I really love about R.E.M.; their ability to create something beautiful that isn't... just another beautiful thing. Amazing.

All of this of course is not to dismiss the quality pop songs present on Murmur. "Shaking Through", "Catapult" and the stellar album closer "West of the Fields" are all highlights, and I still maintain that the single "Talk About the Passion" is the best pop song ever made. The string arrangement is fantastic, and the song is one of the few examples under I.R.S. Records that Michael's lyrics are (nearly) conventionally beautiful and his delivery clean and intelligible.

"Not everyone can carry the weight of the world"

That's a great lyric. And this is a great record. But what did you expect? It's Murmur! And it is every bit as great as it is hyped to be.

Key Tracks (Click to Download): "Pilgrimage", "Talk About the Passion", "Perfect Circle"

10/10



Next Step: Violent Femmes - Hallowed Ground

Last edited by Rickenbacker; 01-28-2010 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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no responses to the Murmur review... oh well. Up next:

Murmur [Deluxe Edition]
Reissued 2008
I.R.S. Records



2008 marked the 25th anniversary of Murmur, R.E.M.'s landmark debut LP, and thankfully for R.E.M. enthusiasts, I.R.S. Records was happy to reissue it. The 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Murmur includes the original album completely remastered, as well as a bonus disc containing a previously unreleased live show at Larry's Hide-Away in Toronto from 1983, prior to Murmur's release. The track listing is as follows.
  1. Laughing
  2. Pilgrimage
  3. There She Goes Again
  4. Seven Chinese Brothers
  5. Talk About the Passion
  6. Sitting Still
  7. Harborcoat
  8. Catapult
  9. Gardening at Night
  10. 9-9
  11. Just a Touch
  12. West of the Fields
  13. Radio Free Europe
  14. We Walk
  15. 1,000,000
  16. Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)

Overall, the live set is excellent. This show finds the band in a place where they don't feel they have to play any hits... because they didn't have any hits! The big problem with R.E.M.'s later, more orthodox live album "R.E.M. Live" is that it casts the band as a big successful rock band. Sure, the sound quality on R.E.M. Live is great, and the songs as good as they were in the studio, but somehow it doesn't feel "real". Live shows, even recorded ones, should feel "real", and this set is very, very real. Stipe, who at the time was known for his shyness, manages to engage the audience between songs as they shout out requests for obscure b-sides and the like. The audience here loves the band, and Stipe even comes out of his shell after some time to tartly respond "No, no, no, no, no!" after powering through a blistering "Radio Free Europe" when a group of people asks them to play "Shaking Through", an underrated Murmur classic. The Murmur songs sound incredible, as does the cover of the Velvet Underground's "There She Goes Again", the b-side to the re-released version of "Radio Free Europe". But even better than the Murmur and Chronic Town songs are those from their forthcoming album Reckoning. The recordings of "Harborcoat" and "7 Chinese Bros." are so filled with energy that it feels like the band is there. And of course there is nothing less than a stellar performance by drummer Bill Berry throughout.

By the way, the best part is where one fan yells out "BOX CARS!" and another yells out even louder "BOOOOOX CAAAAAAAARS!!"

Pure class.

Key Tracks (Click to Download): "There She Goes Again", "Seven Chinese Brothers", "Harborcoat"

(Rating is for the live set alone)

8.5/10


Last edited by Rickenbacker; 01-23-2010 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 01-20-2010, 02:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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^That was the first CD I ever bought on my own. I like it a lot, but the best part was the original album that came with it.
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Speaking of which it gets a 0/10 for price. Mine cost nearly 35 dollars! Come on, I.R.S.! Ain't fair!
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:53 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Reckoning
Released 1984
I.R.S. Records



When you were young, didn't everything make more sense?

When I was young, I listened to Reckoning. If someone were to ask me what music I liked, I wouldn't reply with the latest radio hit, or even that I listened to R.E.M. We all have those albums that we know so well; that we have listened to so many times that we can recite them in their entirety, note for note in our heads. For me, this was, and still is, this album.

I listened to Reckoning, and that was it. Pop songs would come and go, musical trends would rise and fall before my eyes, but Reckoning remained my musical rock for years through its sheer power to never age. Somewhat ironically however, Reckoning was not my gateway into good music, simply because I didn't see that there could be anything out there as good as it was (it would take a few years and one play through Automatic for the People before I realized that). Rather, Reckoning served as the album that I could fall back on whenever my musical faith was shaken. This was possible only because Reckoning is universal. Perhaps the most universal album ever. Now of course this doesn't mean that it appeals to everybody. However, I honestly believe that this album has something that, given enough time to reveal itself, everybody who listens to it will appreciate if not love. Now I understand how pretentious this may sound, but believe me I would never say this about any other album. To put it simply, if somebody asked me what music was, I would play them Reckoning.

So how did R.E.M. accomplish this? Conceptually, it is quite simple: Blend the experimental sound and thought provoking songwriting of Murmur with the pop sensibility of Chronic Town, Crazy Rhythms, and Loaded. Executing this would prove to be very risky however, considering how badly the idea could have gone. If the record leaned to much to either side it could have been a disaster. The solution, R.E.M. saw, was not to make a record full of "Talk About the Passion" rip-offs or to change their sound entirely, but rather to find balance and harmony between pop perfection and wild experimentalism. This is why Reckoning succeeds so much. If Chronic Town was a collection of five near perfect pop songs, then Reckoning is a collection of ten. But if Chronic Town ever suffered, it was because of the similarity in the sound of its songs. Reckoning's diversity gives it the edge, and saves it from ever aging or sounding dated.

The secret to Reckoning's sound is Peter Buck's guitar, which effortlessly offers trademark R.E.M. riffs song after song. Nearly every song on the record is built around killer Rickenbacker riff, which is aided by Berry's restrained yet powerful drumming. Mike Mills reveals himself for the first time to be not only a solid bassist, but an incredible backing vocalist and songwriter. Mills' harmonies on "Harborcoat", "Pretty Persuasion" and "Letter Never Sent" totally make the songs, and his contributions to the record as a songwriter are some of the best songs, most notably the countrified single "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville", written about the town of Rockville, Maryland. Of course Michael Stipe has a lot to contribute as well, delivering stunning vocals throughout and writing songs the quality of which he has only rarely met such as the gorgeous "Camera" and his self proclaimed favorite song of the I.R.S. years "Time After Time (AnnElise), a song which Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus would jokingly call his "least favorite song" on Reckoning.

When most bands who release a debut album as incredible as Murmur do so, following it can be critical suicide. R.E.M.'s underrated follow up is even better, and from a songwriting standpoint, may be their best record ever. While not my favorite of theirs, if there is one R.E.M. album to get it would be Reckoning.

Key Tracks (Click to Download): "Harborcoat", "So. Central Rain", "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville"

10/10



Next Step: Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

Last edited by Rickenbacker; 01-24-2010 at 11:19 AM.
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