R.E.M.'s new LP, ACCELERATE, comes out this Tuesday in the U.S. I've already gone and expressed my sadness and disappointment [HERE]. It occurs to me now: The truly troubling thing is that the band made most, if not all, of the adjustments that I (and most fans and critics) thought they absolutely had to make in order to reinvigorate their sound, yet they still produced a largely lackluster and leaden effort. !Ay chihuahua!
(Of course, not all critics are finding it "lackluster" and/or "leaden," as I see that both Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly are raving. "Raving mad," methinks.)
Late Thursday night, I found myself compelled by coffee & crankiness to pop MURMUR into the player, strap on my trusty Grado 60s, and crank the volume to a level that's slowly-but-surely eroding my ability to hear high frequencies. Sure enough, the band's debut album still sounded fresh, vital, and new -- even 25 years after its release. And it's not as though I wanted the new disc to sound like MURMUR (or LIFES RICH PAGEANT or AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE, for that matter); I just wanted some semblance of the inspired communion of songwriting and performance that had elevated those records to classic status. Too much to ask for? Guess so.
(But enough with the bitching. Honestly, enough already.)
Now... you may need to crank the volume a bit on these early-career cuts, but methinks them well worth the effort....
From the Hib-Tone single, 1981 >>>
[MP3] "Radio Free Europe"
From the EP CHRONIC TOWN, 1982 >>>
[MP3] "Wolves, Lower"
[MP3] "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)"
From the LP MURMUR, 1983 >>>
[MP3] "Sitting Still"
[MP3] "Shaking Through"
From the LP RECKONING, 1984 >>>
[MP3] "So. Central Rain"
[MP3] "Pretty Persuasion"
From the LP FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, 1985 >>>
[MP3] "Green Grow the Rushes"
[MP3] "Wendell Gee"