From Mumble to the Majors....The Sound Of Two Oranges Being Banged Together

Strongest album: Life's Rich Pageant
Weakest album: Monster

Okay, that's a pretty obscure reference - the alusion's to a Micheal Stipe quote. R.E.M. are (were?) one of the most important (the most important?) bands of their generation. Which means my generation - I was practically weened on these guys. Way back in the dark ages, during the time of man known as the Poodle Hair Metal Epoch, I was a sensitive youngster who had worn out my parents' classic rock collection and just wasn't that interested in crap like Poison. To cut to the chase, I discovered R.E.M., who opened the doors for me into a world of music I didn't even know existed - "alternative", back when that phrase actually meant something. The '80s was the worst decade in memory for rock, if you only paid attention to MTV and the radio (mainstream, that is). But if you were aware of its existence, down in the underground the '80s offerred tons of great bands with great music, allowing the decade to well hold its own against the cherished '60s and grudgingly/ironically beloved '70s. Of all the great '80s college rock, left-of-mainstream bands, R.E.M. were the most successful. Too much of the world will never know how great the Replacements and X and Camper Van Beethoven were, and I could go on.... It's easy to see why R.E.M. broke through while their peers didn't: they were more pop and accessible. I certainly don't mean that as an insult, either (nobody who likes the Beatles should ever use "pop" as a dirty word). In fact one could draw the analogy and say that R.E.M. were the Beatles of my generation. Not that we should glibly put these giants in a boxing ring until the fans decide who's better - no, the analogy I'm making is the impact R.E.M. had on their fans, upon intelligent, discerning young people who were sick of lite-metal crapola the way a previous generation had sickened on oily Darins and Avalons. They didn't blow open the floodgates like Nirvana did, but they gave hope to a lot of folks that real music was still being made back in the day of synths and hairspray. The most amazing thing about R.E.M.'s music is its consistency; up until the last two, they never really made a bad album. What's more, they never repeated themselves, either - each album sounds markedly different in sound and approach than the last. Due to that little fact, a lot of people really disagree on what R.E.M.'s strongest albums are. Two random hardcore R.E.M. fans - and there's a lot of those - will give you completely conflicting accounts as to which their strongest and weakest albums are. You love Fables, I love Pageant - I suppose most everybody agrees that Murmur is great, and that Monster flat-out sucks (the world's #1 used bin CD), but after that the evaluations diverge. Tell you what - go over to that friend of yours' house who has every album they ever released (every neighborhood has a guy or gal with the works), listen to the albums, and make up your own ears. Or, as a distant second choice, read my reviews. Actually, I bet you already own all the R.E.M. albums, and are just reading this page to hear what I have to say! You R.E.M. fans are a voracious reading lot....I know your type....you'll do anything to get your latest dose of words on your heroes....For the record: Peter Buck is the genius behind R.E.M., Stipe is the guy who likes to talk a lot and bask in attention, Mike Mills is a way cooler ur-dork than Bill Gates, and Bill Berry left the band to ride around on a tractor spitting hayseeds on the good Georgia soil.

The problem with R.E.M. on the web is where to begin. Since there's no definitive R.E.M. page, you might as well start with the R.E.M. Links Page.

Chronic Town EP (1982) ****

This 5-song debut presents R.E.M. to the world fully formed and realized, with only a few rough edges (mainly in the vocals; Stipe mumbles at his most indecipherable). These wild-eyed Georgia boys channel the spirit of both the Byrds and Velvets on "Wolves, Lower", the best song and one true classic for the canon. The other four tunes are quite good, too; "Carnival (Box Cars)" is easily the weakest track, but it's not all that weak, really. You've heard of "Gardening At Night", I assume - love that jangly guitar tone. Since there's not a whole lot to talk about with this little EP, let's talk about Buck's guitar, shall we? Accept no substitutes, Buck is the heart of R.E.M., and it's his guitar that makes the band great more than almost anything else. I mean, take out that guitar, and what do you have? 'Nuff said. And the great thing is, it maintains a familiar consistency while sounding different on every album. And Buck isn't a virtuoso showoff, either - it all works to aid the songs, not to flang some penile wank'em crank'em solo. And oh yeah, Mills has the most melodic bass fills this side of McCartney and sure knows how to harmonize on those backup vocals, Berry keeps the beat steady and rolling, and that Stipe kid is a pretentious fruit but he has that, oh whatchamacallit, charisma. This EP was appended to the CD issue of Dead Letter Office.

Murmur (1983) *****

They certainly weren't the first, they might not have been the best (oh, okay, they were the best - I mean, the Dbs were good, but R.E.M. had more imagination), but this album is the sonic altar of college rock, from which every goateed jingle-jangle in the campus coffeehouse alternaband from Hootie to the Gin Blossoms take their cues. Errr...wait a second.... But hey, don't blame R.E.M., 'cause this is far from the uniform jangle-with-poetry mush that a lot of uninspired bands profferred in its wake. No, I'll tell you what it's got that everybody overlooks and in retrospect is a crucial component of its success: a good beat. Just what is "Radio Free Europe" but a great dance song? Kudos to Mills for that killer bassline! In fact, Buck aside for a moment, Mills turns out to be the real star of this album, twisting those snaky, funky but bouncily melodic basslines that reveal themselves as foundations of many of the tunes. Don't believe me? Then listen to this album again - "Laughing"? "Catapult"? "9-9"? The point I'm making is that R.E.M. are a great band, with every member equally important. I remember reading somewhere a long time back about how the members of R.E.M. all wanted their own parts turned down for the mix - no one really wanted to hog the spotlight. The lack of egos is admirable in and of itself, but it also makes for a sonically interesting album. With all the instrumental parts given equal play, the ambience is low-key without being tepidly quiet; it rocks without being in your face about it. When it came out amidst the hardcore punk monochrome and tackily big-drum arena rock of the day, it must have seemed like such a breath of fresh kudzu. I'm not going to bother with all the song-by-song analysis since I've already written a long paragraph and nearly all the songs are good. "Talk About The Passion" is a particular favorite. A very unique, organic-feeling album with a mystique and flavor its legions of imitators have never come close to capturing.

Reckoning (1984) ****

A more staightforward rockin'-rolly record after Murmur's dreamy pop, the results are somewhat less interesting and the songwriting isn't quite as stellar as the previous. Otherwise, another excellent effort; while there isn't a whole lot of new ground broken, it builds upon the formula R.E.M. have writ so far (and would not repeat after this record) and solidified their following. "So. Central Rain" was the big "hit" here, and "Seven Chinese Brothers" follows in a similar mid-tempo vein. The rocker "Pretty Persuasion" is a winner, as is the wannabe state-of-the-union address "Little America" (at least I think - Stipe still hasn't e-nun-ci-ated properly yet, but he's incrementally growing less vague and slurry). "Don't Go Back To Rockville" tries to take on country, but it's only partially successful entirely for the reason that Stipe can't sing/write a coherent lyric - if you're going to do country music, that's necessary. Pavement's least favorite R.E.M. song is "Time After Time", and they're right - that one blows, except for the brief bridge and solo. Stipe stretches out his pipes on a ballad, "Camera", that I'd trade a dozen "Everybody Hurts" for, even if I can't understand what he's talking about. Sound over sense - that's the cliche used about R.E.M.. The real problem is that R.E.M. aren't doing anything they haven't done before, which is rare for them - this is the only album they ever did in the same style as the one they did before. Other than that caveat, I have no major gripes.

Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) ***1/2

The members of R.E.M. have had some pretty disparaging remarks about this album, but really it's not that bad. But you can see why they rank it low - this is easily the weakest of their early albums. Slapping on strings ("Feeling Gravity's Touch", real snoozer) and ever so slightly going for a more mainstream (albiet psychedelicized) sound doesn't do anything but detract from the songs, which generally aren't R.E.M.'s best. So, why did I give this record a grade as high as I did? Well, ever hear of "Driver 8"? "Green Grow The Rushes"? "Auctioneer (Another Engine)"? "Maps And Legends"? Yes, even the silly "Can't Get From Here To There", with those stupid horns and Stipe's affectedly corny ur-Geoawja' accint', but it's catchy. So there are some quite good songs on this record, even if half the record is fairly boring. The boring numbers aren't flat-out terrible, just dull and uninvolving. Okay, so "Driver 8" is the only real classic here, but this a fairly good record that you wouldn't mind hearing. I know I'm damning with faint praise, but....Well, look, it's like this: Buy all the other R.E.M. records up to Document, check out Out Of Time, and then move on to this. That makes it, what, their 6th best regular-issue full-length studio album?

Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) *****

From the opening racket on the title track, you know R.E.M. are taking a turn into the brave new world of real rock. Not the low-key guitar pop that they've done so far, but rock with the amps cranked up and the drum sound pounding to the fore. Some people complain that R.E.M. first started selling out on this album by opting for a more mainstream sound, but I could care less about what a bunch of indie Puritans have to say - as long as the music's good, I don't give a flying Fender whether it goes Platinum or Scrap Metal. "Fall On Me" is Stipe's favorite R.E.M. song, and you know what, it might be mine too - it's certainly their best-ever ballad; the melody and countermelody are incredible. The cover of "Superman" sung appealingly nerdily by Mills (which is why we love him - who says nerds can't be in rock bands? Would you rather have Axl Rose?) is ace. Stipe's singing is considerably clearer, which brings out this ringing, steely baritone that pushes the likes of "These Days" over the edge into anthems for the ages. It also brings out the inanity of his lyrics, but at least here Stipe's method-acting oblique so we still think that there's more behind the bad poetry than there really is (there wasn't, as future albums would prove). See, the trick is to pick out really obscure topics like the Cuyahoga Indians and the flowers of Guatemala and people will think you're really keen. The only real bad cut present is "Underneath The Bunker" (just who sings?). I can even dig the folk-wisdom generalizations of "I Believe", which is a better country song than "Rockville". My favorite R.E.M. album? Well, that changes every so often, but I'd hazard this might be it. They've toughened up their attack and really rocked good and hard for the first time, and made a few strides towards accessibility (mainly in the vocals), so beginners might as well start here. All you kids who thought that R.E.M. are a bunch of old farts who can't rock because of Monster, listen to this one.

Dead Letter Office (1987) ***

A mess of leftovers and discards. In the liner notes Pete Buck compares this to browsing through a junkshop. If you're just a casual fan, stay away from this album, but if you care about R.E.M. as much as I do, this is a lot of fun. Three Velvet Underground covers are two too many - they should have kept "Femme Fatale", which is better than the original (Nico was just a stupid, anexoric, boring fashion model who couldn't even sing as good as Lou Reed, so the original's easy to beat. Ever seen the documentary of her life, Nico/Icon? Man, was she a dull, vapid person. But I digress), and tossed the other two. The Aerosmith cover saves you the trouble of actually having to go out and buy an album by that pathetic Stones-ripoff band (I'm sorry, Peter, but if growing up in the '70s meant you listened to Aerosmith, then I'm glad I didn't grow up in the '70s. Oh well, my generation had Whitesnake). I haven't heard anything from Pylon, so I can't compare, but the cover of "Crazy" is pretty great (apparently this is another one of those songs about getting stoned. Heck, everybody did'em back in the Athens scene heyday. You tell me the B-52's didn't do psychoactive pharmeceuticals on a daily basis). As for "King Of The Road", go out and buy a Roger Miller record, or better yet save yourself some money and just dub the Motel 6 commercial off the TV. Okay, that's the covers. As for the originals, it's easy to see why they weren't released - most of'em sound like they were recorded in a few minutes when they were drunk, and probably were (Buck admits as much for at least one in the liner notes). You get a subpar surf instrumental that was released three years earlier for the Bachelor Party soundtrack, and another poor instrumental, and Stipe reading the liner notes of a gospel album to the backing track of "Seven Chinese Bros.", and a cackling rocker about young lust and going to hell (see, these guys really are Southern), and a song "Ages Of You" written twice and discarded both times, and some other stuff. None of it's really that good, but it's fun and trashy - it's fun because it's trashy. But it's as sloppy and digressive as this review.

Document (1987) ****

This one broke R.E.M. as "stars" - "The One I Love" made Top 40, and "It's The End Of The World As I Know It (And I Feel Fine)", which has more (and better) words than most rappers can cram in (and few cram those words as breathlessly skillfully as Stipe does here) was the other. Picking up where Pageant left off, R.E.M. rock harder and for the first time Stipe's singing is comprehensible, and the lyrics to half of these songs actually make sense and are about something. Yep, this is the big political statement that R.E.M. are suddenly interested in making - they even go so far as to sample the McCarthy hearings on "Exhuming McCarthy"! The sound is muscular and clear, and side one's songs are uniformly good-to-great. As a bonus, you get a revved-up version of Wire's "Strange" that blows the original away (Pink Flag what?). The problem is that after "The One I Love", side two's songs aren't very good. I mean, they're okay, and when I was 14 I listened to side two all the time. But when I was 14, I only had about ten or twenty tapes to call my own, I think. Now that I've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 albums, I can't recall the last time I gave "Fireplace" or "King Of Birds" a listen of my own free volition. Not that these songs are bad, mind you - they're just not very good, and as I related via my little biography, I have listened to all of them a hundred times at least, so I'm pretty sure I'm not inadvertently overlooking subtle gems. But hey, side one's GREAT! Can you look at yourself in the mirror realizing that you don't own an album with "It's The End Of The World As I Know It" on it? I think not.

Green (1988) ***

A major disappointment. When this came out when I was a wee lad of 14 years in junior high, I had a hard time believing this was the same band that did Document. Oh, did I mention that Document was the first album I ever bought with my own money? Yeah, and when I paid 8 bucks and took this home I felt bitter and ripped-off. Maybe they'd made misstep. I didn't own any of their albums besides Document at the time, so I figured to myself that that album might've been a fluke. But it wasn't a fluke, and in retrospect this is a much better album than I originally gave it credit for. But it's still not that wonderful, and I'm still bitter. The problem is that R.E.M. don't sound like R.E.M.; in fact, they sound pretty generic. Maybe this is their attempt to make a so-generic-it's-idiosyncratic generic pop album; cries of "Sell Out!" are dead on with regards to Green. I mean, come on, "Stand"? That's Sesame Street crap! See, I told you I was still bitter, after all these years. "Turn You Inside Out" is bad Led Zeppelin (yes, there is such a thing as good Led Zeppelin). I don't care about Stipe's paranoid theories about California. I don't care about looking to the sun to find my way home. I don't care about hairshirts. I don't care about "The Wrong Child". I do care about Buck's guitar - where is it? Mills' melodic bass lines - where are they? Put a little more emphasis on band dynamics next time round, please. In its defense, you have "Orange Crush", a rousing anthem about not joining the army. You have the pretty "World Leader Pretend". You have a couple of sweet and tender love songs. You have "Pop Song 89", which so bubblegummily poppy and catchy that it overrides any objections I might have. In toto, a better album than this review might lead you to believe - in fact, this is the nicest album I've ever been this mean to.

Out Of Time (1991) ****

3 years later I was a much more mature lad coasting along through highschool and by this time I'd actually met a few more people who were into R.E.M. Me and this girl in my homeroom had bought this the week it came out and were both giggling excitedly about it, just raving about how great it was, how R.E.M. were trying out all these new sounds and they all sounded wonderful. We couldn't wait to rush home and slap this one on the stereo first thing. Well, my evaluation to this album has diminished quite a bit since then, but I still think it's very good. R.E.M. indulge in a lot of different styles, which makes this something that is always interesting to listen to - if you don't like one style, hang on a bit, there's a new song coming up. Depending on my mood, I like half of these songs and don't like the others; when I'm in another mood, I like the half I didn't like the first time and don't like the half I previously liked. Currently, my two faves are the ones with Mills lead vocals, the Beach Boys-style "Near Wild Heaven" (dig that falsetto whine) and "Texarkana", which has nothing to do with the town (ever been to Texarkana? Don't go. I actually had to live there once). Maybe I've just grown sick of Stipe and his ego, or more likely, I just need a change of pace every once in a while. Which is good, since this album is practically nothing but a bunch of changes of pace. KRS-One raps on "Radio Song", there's lovely instrumental, some more country, and, errr, "Shiny Happy People". If you hate that song like I do and have avoided this album because of it, don't. The rest of the album, thankfully, sounds nothing like "Up With People". I've been told that Stipe's filtered mumble on "Belong" sounds like me talking....I listened to a recording of my voice and it's true. Weird. I've taken a more personal approach to my R.E.M. reviews than usual because they were the soundtrack of my generation, so to speak (not everybody, I mean. I realize a lot of you were listening to Great White Lion Snake). For personal reasons, I'd rank this album five stars, because of the memories associated with it....this was the album everybody owned during the summer I went to Arkansas Governor's School, and the sound brings back those young and innocent days. But since you are not me and have every reason not to care about my memories, I've ranked it four stars.

Automatic For The People (1992) ***

Set this one on snooze control.... Rumours at this time floated about Stipe's imminent death from AIDS, and by a conservative estimate about half of these songs concern death. "Try Not To Breathe" - that's pretty obvious. While it's not specifically about death, the way Stipe numbly invokes "Hey kids, rock'n'roll" (some worthless novelty dreck single from the glitter era that's inexplicably popular) sure sounds like a voice marching towards the grave. Some of these songs are very pretty, very haunting, and moving, especially the final two songs, and especially "Nightswimming", a better song about mid-American nostalgia than either Bob Seger or Bruce Springsteen has ever written. But too much of this is simply dull. Everything's slowed to a crawl, and the songs start to sound uncomfortably samey, particularly coming on the heels of Out Of Time's dazzling variety. The lone rocker, "Ignoreland", sounds forced, and I've grown sick from constant airplay both "Man On The Moon", and heaven help us, "Everybody Hurts" (not even Mariah Carey would touch that cliche. Oh god, I hope she doesn't cover it!). Not really that bad of an album - in fact it's got some quite good material in spots - and to their credit, R.E.M. are still try new and different things. But their relevance is going fast....

Reader Comments


Didn't like Automatic?? The best collective piece of music ever recorded. From start to finish it speaks beauty, sadness and redemption...themes that most music doesn't come close to.


it seems to me impossible not to think of "automatic for the people" as the best record of all times....it's the most personal, the most intense i've ever listened to.....!

Monster (1994) **1/2

....and it's gone. This album did it. This is the first R.E.M. album to totally blow. People who hadn't been disappointed before bought this album the day it was released and returned it to the record store the next day. Don't believe me - believe the used bins. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the world champion: the #1 CD you will most likely find ten copies of in the used bin. I do a lot of shopping in those bins, and every one I've ever seen has at least three copies. Myself, I only like one song off of here, "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?". The rest of the time I kind of groove off of the guitar tone - it's pretty groovy, crunchy little guitar tone - and try to find something else to hold my interest. Stipe's singing? It's filtered so that it comes out indecipherable, which is pretty neat. Stipe's lyrics? Better all the time - he might eventually write a decent one yet. Mills' bass lines and backup vocals? Hey, where are they?!? Since age and anuerysms have taken their toll, Berry's drumming ain't what it used to be, which renders the rythm section useless. And just how are you supposed to rock out without a good rythm section? Crank the amps up to eleven and splatter a bunch of buzzy noise all over the place? Bloated, I say. R.E.M. are a group of bloated arena rockers. Sad. Sad. Sad. They aren't the Rolling Stones - yet. This is more like late-period Who, a not-quite embarrassing album that has its moments but makes one pine uncontrollably for days when the world was young, you were young, this band was young, and this band had something to say.

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996) **1/2

Mainly recorded between tour dates during the Monster trek across the globe, you'd figure that cutting a record this loose and off the cuff would make for a fun, sloppy barrel of a time. Nope. This is the dullest record R.E.M. have ever cut, even duller than Automatic. R.E.M. continue to expand their musical horizons and experiment, which is entirely why I gave this record the high grade of two and a half stars. The worst song is "The West And How It Was Won", an arty self-indulgence that really starts things off on the wrong note. After that, you get more bland, arty self-indulgence of marginally more interest. I only sit up when Patti Smith comes on for her monologue, and I despise Patti Smith. The album is mostly slow and quiet, which is a relief after Monster's relentless cacophony, but it's too quiet in this desert. "The Wake-Up Bomb" is a better rocker than anything on the previous platter, but the other rockers like "Departure" sound forced. The melodies have improved since the last time, but most of this is record is texture in search of fully realized songs. And with the median length clocking in at around five minutes, these tracks go on far too long. R.E.M. sound tired, fatigued by nearly two decades of touring and record-making, which makes the album work as a mood piece, at least, but when the mood it captures is weariness, I find my patience taxed. Buck kicks up some feedbacking noise and gets off a few good solos, but despite the noise this record's tone is oddly sedate and quiet. The guitar noise works kind of like those boring early Sonic Youth records - who needs slow, atmospheric noise with no point? Bloated, I say. Sad. Sad. Sad. Is this what baby boomers felt when the Rolling Stones started releasing crap records that spit on their past accomplishments? R.E.M. are far from that valley of washed-upness; at least these guys are still trying to make good music, but they just aren't anymore. I remember hearing these guys say around Out Of Time or Green that they were going to break up on New Year's Eve 2000, to end their career before it got lame. Bill Berry's gone now.... I hate to say this about what used to be my favorite band, but it's time to hang it up. Stipe's got his films to make, Buck's got all his musical side projects producing other bands and whatnot, and Mills has got golf. Don't turn into the Stones! Don't turn into the Stones! Don't! Don't! Don't! Don't! There, I got that off my chest. At least they've maintained their integrity by making a decidedly non-commercial album like this one - but that doesn't mean it's any good.

Up (1998)

Their latest, sans Berry which leaves R.E.M. a trio with no drummer. Word on the street hasn't been too positive, but of course it's gotten rave reviews in every mainstream publication in existence. So did Monster. I'll get to this eventually when I'm able to pick it up cheap.

Post Your Comments

Reader Comments

Richard Makin, okiemakins@onenet.net

Pretty rough reviews on some great albums towards the end there. You can't let radio overplay determine your feelings on a song (Man on the Moon). How can you give an album with Be Mine and Electrolite 2 1/2 stars?? I also disagree with your judgements on Stipe. The band has made a point of saying they are four (now three) equal parts. Stipe just happens to be the most rock star like of the group. Also, he's way cooler than any frontman out there now. I enjoyed reading your reviews even if I didn't agree with all of them. Very cool.

Tony Soltero, tsoltero@toad.net

Don't worry --- R.E.M. needs to inflict about six pointless live albums upon us before they can truly be compared to the Stones. And as disappointing as some of the later records have been, they're yet to record anything as wall-to-wall crappy as Emotional Rescue or Dirty Work. Even Monster has its moments, and New Adventures is, well, pretty engaging in spots when it avoids being "atmospheric" (atmospheric, adj. critic-speak for "tuneless". U2's latest releases have been very atmospheric.) You don't have Up on your list yet. I don't know if you've had a chance to listen to it, but I think it's a nice rebound from their last two offerings. Very ballady, but hardly ever dull, and "At My Most Beautiful" lives up to its title, rivaling "Fall On Me" in its exquisiteness. As for the other records, I pretty much agree; Pageant is my fave; "Sitting Still" is three and a half minutes of pure pop perfection; you trash "Voice of Harold", but I think it's a hoot! Much more fun than "Seven Chinese Brothers"....

Nice reviews. Keep up the good work.

Nick Karn, Awake600@aol.com

Your reviews here were fairly accurate with my opinions until their more recent material. Am I the only one who thinks "New Adventures In Hi Fi" is great? I guess so. As for "Automatic", I do believe that one to be a little overrated because there are a few songs that are less than stellar ("Sweetness Follows", "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1" and the horrible "Star Me Kitten", probably the worst album track they ever released IMO), but it's still a great album because the highlights are so phenomenal ("Everybody Hurts", "Ignoreland", "Man On The Moon"). "Monster" I'd say is so-so, not great, but not bad either. And "Up"...after months of constantly listening to this, I still contend it's their masterpiece. The first three tracks are just pretty good but after that it's absolutely brilliant. It's by far the deepest they've ever gone musically and lyrically.

Let's see... my ratings for their catalog are as follows: Chronic Town (****1/2), Murmur (*****), Reckoning (*****), Fables of the Reconstruction (***), Life's Rich Pageant (***1/2), Dead Letter Office (***), Document (****1/2), Eponymous (***1/2), Green (*****), Out Of Time (****1/2), Automatic For The People (****), Monster (***), New Adventures In Hi Fi (****1/2, Up (*****)

Steve Grant, ACE1242@concentric.net

You & I are about on the same wavelength about R.E.M. over the course of their entire career, though we differ a bit on some individual albums. For one thing, I'd swap your opinions on Life's Rich Pageant and Green. But we're in complete agreement about their most recent three; Monster, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, and Up are just plain junk.

Well, they've done so much experimenting in their music, I'll cut them some slack when an occasional shot falls way wide of the mark.

Rich Bunnell, cbunnell@ix.netcom.com

What's with all of the turnaround lately with reviewers which suddenly find it necessary to bash Lifes Rich Pageant and praise Green to death? I mean your page has the right idea, as does Mark Prindle's, but I just can't see how "Green" with so many obviously weaker tracks than the other album could be thought of as so amazing. Both albums are still good, though-- if I were to rate Green it'd get a ***1/2, with LRP a ****1/2.

My other ratings are = Murmur (****1/2), Reckoning (****1/2), Fables (****), Document (*****), Out of Time (****), Automatic (***1/2), Monster (**), New Adventures (****1/2), and Up (****1/2). I am in agreement about Monster but I hate it even more than you, it contains only a few listenable songs ("Star 69" is awesome!) and that guitar tone that everyone loves just annoys me to death.

But "New Adventures In Hi-Fi"? That album's great! Tons of well-held-together rock songs, and only "dull" in a few points. "Up" is just as good but it takes time to grow on you, though I'd imagine when you finally get it it'll get the same grade as the previous two albums. Whatever, I'm not gonna act all pretentious and say "You just don't GET IT," because the songs on Up intrigue some people and bore the crap out of others.

dd dd dd, stipe@myworldmail.com

Je suis un fan de REM, Les quatre (les trois maintenant) rivolutionnaire d'athen ont quelque chose de tres particulier par rapport aux autre groupes. Au lieu qu'une chanson parle de l'amour, de la joie et des futilitis qu'on entend tous les jours, REM dipasse tout ga vers un style assey m{r, des partles cryptis mais si on prend le temps de les dichiffrer, on se rend compte que Micheal Stipe est un vrai intellectuel, un ginie avant qu'il soit un tris bon vocaliste. Secondo, La qualiti de la musique de REM est incontestable, un style rock airi, Buck est un tris grand guitariste, Mills aussi fait exellement son travail de basiste, bgvocal et bien d'autres talens, enfin le "Fugitif" Bell berry qui a quitter le groupe , a propos de son dipart, je crois cela a bien eu une influence sur le gruope mjme si Stipe a diclari que :"Un chien qui marche sur quatre pattes peut marcher sur trois mais diffiremment".

Mr S Riordan, margl@csv.warwick.ac.uk

I like you're reviews, I just have a couple of points.

(i)I think you'll find that Mike Mills wrote "Don't go Back to Rockville"


(ii)I must admit that Monster and fables are two of my favouritese (but equally I agree - Automatic and Hi-Fi are pretty boring).

Don't Go Back To Rockville