Talk About The Passion

where's bill?

Now that it's definite that I’m going to the MoveOn Springsteen/REM concert tonight (the tickets are actually in my possession!), I’ve decided to continue on yesterday's post and name my favorite song off each of R.E.M.’s albums (not including their greatest hits or soundtrack stuff).

Chronic Town (EP) (1982)
Best Song: Gardening At Night
Somewhere it must be time for penitence.
Of course, I had to look that lyric up. You don't expect anyone to actually understand any of the words on this album, do you? I hadn't heard this EP until I was well into R.E.M.'s music. Still holds up. Now included on the Dead Letter Office CD.
Runner Up: Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars)

Murmur (1983)
Best Song: Radio Free Europe
Radio Free Europe, radio...
Fuzzy lyrics continue. Only one of the greatest debut albums ever (right up there with Los Lobos' How Will the Wolf Survive - which came out around the same time). Unlike anything before it or since.
Talk About The Passion

Reckoning (1984)
Best Song: So. Central Rain
These rivers of suggestion are driving me away.
The start of the jangle-y guitar stuff. Very tough to pick just one favorite from this one. Only seems like a weaker album because it came between such great ones.
Runner-Up: (Don't Go Back To) Rockville.

Fables Of The Reconstruction (1985)
Best Song: Driver 8
We can reach our destination, but we're still a ways away.
The album that changed everything for me. I was in high school when it came out, and up to this point I was still listening to music from the last generation (Led Zeppelin, Stones, Beatles) and bands on their last legs (Police, Genesis) - tried and true stuff. This album (along with belatedly discovering Talking Heads '77) forced me to come into the present and listen to challenging music.

Can't Get There From Here

Life's Rich Pageant (1986)
Best Song: Fall On Me
Buy the sky and sell the sky and lift your arms up to the sky.
I know Fall On Me was the single from this one, but it's still my favorite if only because it was the first R.E.M. song I could actually sing along with (the lyrics scrolled across the video)! Starts and ends with loud songs, but in between are a lot of cool, quieter songs.
Runner-Up: I Believe

Document (1987)
Best Song: It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down. Watch your heel crush, crushed, uh-oh, this means no fear cavalier.
The rest of my generation discovers R.E.M. This album was perfectly timed to my entrance into college. The vocals are much crisper but the lyrics are still eerie. That doesn't stop you from singing along with the whole album.
Runner-Up: Finest Worksong

Dead Letter Office (1987)
Best Song: Voice of Harold
We are associated with United Music World Recording Studios, Inc., West Columbia, S.C. The Finest Sound Available Anywhere.
B-Sides and otherwise. One of my favorite R.E.M. albums, perhaps because it's so wacky. Plus it included their first EP, Chronic Town. Not surprised to hear three Lou Reed covers, but Aerosmith? Roger Miller? Proves that Michael Stipe could sound good singing the phone book or, as in the case of Voice of Harold, the liner notes of an old gospel album.
Runner-Up: Femme Fatale

Green (1988)
Best Song: Turn You Inside-Out
What I choose not to do.
Sure it has a lot of top 40 singles on it, but Top 40 came to R.E.M. - not the other way around. The first album of theirs I bought on the release date and the first tour I saw them on.
Runner-Up: Orange Crush

Out Of Time (1991)
Best Song: Country Feedback
You wear me out, You wear me out.
The rest of the world discover R.E.M. Losing My Religion proved once again that if R.E.M. is going to have a hit single, it will be on their terms. Not that I ever have to hear the song again.
Runner-Up: Belong

Automatic for the People (1992)
Best Song: The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
A can of beans or blackeyed peas, some Nescafe and ice, a candy bar, a falling star, or a reading of Doctor Seuss.
Other than Sidewinder, a very melancholy album with only a hint of hope. Kind of R.E.M.'s Nebraska. I like how Michael Stipe cracks up after the Doctor Seuss lyric.
Runner-Up: Nightswimming

Monster (1994)
Best Song: What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

You said that irony was the shackles of youth.

It's no surprise that these songs were written with an electric guitar in mind. A refreshing sharp turn from what R.E.M. had been doing. The last album of theirs that I bought on its release date. A killer album to tour on. In fact, the tour almost killed Bill Berry.
Runner-Up: King Of Comedy

New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996)
Best Song: How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us
The story is a sad one, told many times. The story of my life in trying times.

An album best listened to with headphones. A collection of very strange but very cool songs. Translated to a live show unexpectedly well.
Runner-Up: Electrolite

Up (1998)
Best Song: At My Most Beautiful
I've found a way, a way to make you smile.

Quiet quiet quiet. Not easy to get into, but still a very good album. Rarely listened to, but when I do I'm surprised I like it so much. At My Most Beautiful nails the Brian Wilson Pet Sounds sound so perfectly it's worth the price of the CD alone.
Runner-Up: Lotus

Reveal (2002)
Best Song: All The Way To Reno (you're gonna be a star)
Your Achilles heel is a tendency to dream.

My least favorite of them all. Nothing that really stands out. Sounds almost like outtakes from their later albums. Tough to pick a runner-up since I hardly ever listen to it. Their weakest songs live.
Runner-Up: The Lifting


At 6:06 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

I spent most of my high school/college life listening to Stipe and the boys. Much like a sitcom that has run its course, though, I think the early stuff is much more powerful than their latest offerings. That being said, they put on a terrific show at the Liacouras Center last fall, opening with Finest Worksong.

At 10:25 PM, Blogger Tom said...

To this day I can listen to "Automatic for the People" and find something new to move me. An amazing, special record from a very talented band.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I'm going to have to go back and listen to Automatic again. Now that I look at the song list again, I may have shown to little enthusiasm for it. I tend to favor the early stuff. Surprisingly, the boys didn't play Ignoreland at the Vote for Change concert last night. Still as relevant as it was 1992.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Mark said...

The wife and I saw R.E.M. at Liacouras Center last fall too. She liked it (she would like anything they do) but I was less than impressed. Stopping after every song like they do now prevents their concerts from developing momentum. Hopefully they have learned something from Bruce last night.

At 4:21 PM, Blogger Me said...

Best Song on ALL the albums: It's The End Of The World As We Know It.


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