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Old 01-17-2010, 02:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Talk About the Passion - R.E.M.'s Discography Reviewed


Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Bill Berry, four young ambitious musicians not content with small town life came Athens, Georgia, a small community that would soon become famous as the college music capitol of the United States. There they found each other and formed a band which, after several name changes, would come to be known as R.E.M.

Fourteen studio albums and millions of record sales later, the band remains a powerful force in music, constantly evolving musically and lyrically and selling out shows in the process. Such success stories are the stuff of legends, and as one of the most critically respected and adored bands of the past thirty years, R.E.M. have effectively solidified their legendary status. In short, R.E.M. are perhaps the single group that has influenced me most musically, changing my life in the process.

In this thread I will review all of R.E.M.'s studio albums, plus an array of live albums, b-sides compilations and greatest hits selections. Each review will have a selection of three key tracks from the album that you can download at will. A "Next Step" feature will also be implemented. For each studio album I review, the "Next Step" album will be an album to look into after listening to the reviewed album, which you may be interested in if you liked the reviewed album. Feel free to send me a private message if you ever want anything, and thanks for reading!

Studio albums:

IRS Records (1982-1987)

Chronic Town (EP - 1982) - 9
Murmur (1983 - Reissued 2008) - 10, 8.5
Reckoning (1984 - Reissued 2009) - 10, 8
Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) - 10
Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) - 10
Document (1987) - 7

*Rick's Essential R.E.M. Volume 1: The I.R.S. Years*

Warner Brothers Records (1988-Present)

Green (1988) - 7.5
Out of Time (1991) - 7
Automatic for the People (1992) - 10
Monster (1995)
New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996)
Up (1998)
Reveal (2001)
Around the Sun (2004)
Accelerate (2008)

Live Albums:

Tourfilm (1990) - 9
Blue (MTV Unplugged) (Unauthorized - 1991) - 7.5
R.E.M. Live (2007)
R.E.M. Live at the Olympia (2009)

Compilations:

Dead Letter Office (1987) - 5
Eponymous (1988) - 8.5
R.E.M.: In the Attic – Alternative Recordings 1985–1989 (1997)
In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (2003)
Itunes Originals - R.E.M. (2004)
And I Feel Fine...: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 (2006)


Note: Compilations will be reviewed song by song, whereas studio albums will be reviewed as a whole, taking cohesiveness into account.

Other Albums:

Man on the Moon OST (1999)
r.e.m.IX (2002)


Rating System:

10 - Mindblowing/Flawless. A cornerstone of any record collection.
9 - Classic/Essential. A nearly perfect album. Finding flaws will be very difficult.
8 - Exceptional/Great. A very good album worth multiple listens.
7 - Good. A valiant effort, flawed but ultimately worth it
6 - Decent/Above Average. Verging on mediocre, or a musical experiment gone wrong.
5 - Average/Mediocre. Fans of the band may find worthwhile parts, others may be disappointed.
4 - Poor. Verging on bad, not worth paying money for.
3 - Bad. Not worth downloading
2 - Awful. Not worth considering downloading.
1 - Bane of my existence. Should you be in the presence of a record with this score, destroy it.


Last edited by Rickenbacker; 06-28-2010 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Excited for this, I've been meaning to complete my R.E.M. collection. Can't wait for the reviews
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Old 01-17-2010, 06:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just gotta finish listening to Suf's Seven Swans and then I'll spin a little Chronic Town and see where it goes. Thanks for the support!
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Old 01-17-2010, 06:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Alright let's get this started shall we?

Chronic Town
Released 1982
I.R.S. Records


When R.E.M.'s first single was released on Hib-Tone records in 1981 it became a local hit, garnering them interest from I.R.S. records, a small record label. The single, called "Radio Free Europe" reached great success in the burgeoning college radio community, prompting R.E.M. to record a five-song EP. This EP would come to be known as Chronic Town, and was released the following year on I.R.S. Records, with whom R.E.M. would work until 1988's "Green."

Chronic Town begins with a quick arpeggiated guitar riff courtesy of Peter Buck, who would become known for his jangly style. This riff immediately grabs the attention of the listener, who is swept in by it's cyclical feel and its catchiness. The song, called "Wolves, Lower", progresses into a vocally unintelligible yet straightforward pop song, and serves as a model for the rest of the EP. For all of Michael Stipe's poetic lyricism and Peter Buck's spindly Rickenbacker guitar work, this is simply a collection of five near perfect pop songs and little more. From the hit-single-that-never-was "Gardening at Night", to the stunning "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)", Chronic Town is, at its heart, a pop album. However despite the very young age of the band members at the time, the EP never fails to come off as mature and well developed, thanks in large part to the fantastic rhythm section that is Mike Mills and Bill Berry.

Honestly, this EP could not have been more promising. With the stellar single Radio Free Europe and the Chronic Town EP at its back, R.E.M. was on the road to becoming a fantastically quirky alternative pop band. However, with their next record and the many subsequent releases, they would prove to be much more than that.

Key Tracks (Click to Download): "Wolves, Lower"; "Gardening at Night"; "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)"

9/10




Next Step: The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms

Last edited by Rickenbacker; 01-23-2010 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickenbacker View Post
Just gotta finish listening to Suf's Seven Swans and then I'll spin a little Chronic Town and see where it goes. Thanks for the support!
No way dude, I was just listening to that for the first time earlier today (Seven Swans). What'd you think? I can see the merit in it, I sense it's a grower!

Sorry for off-topic, I love R.E.M. too but am lacking in their material. Will be keeping an eye on this thread for sure.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh how I love that album... I love it so much. Oh god I could listen to Seven Swans all day. It's a toss up between that and Illinois really; they're both so great.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickenbacker View Post
Oh how I love that album... I love it so much. Oh god I could listen to Seven Swans all day. It's a toss up between that and Illinois really; they're both so great.
That's getting a spin from me tomorrow... or maybe tonight if I'm really bored. Greetings from Michigan was great too.
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You finally got started with this, I've been needing a R.E.M review thread like this for months.
Keep'em coming
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Fantastic! R.E.M. is one of my favorites.
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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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.
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