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CrushOnOutlawPete

Lifes Rich Pageant ~ A general R.E.M. discussion thread

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(Alternate, original thread title was "Life and How to Live It: An R.E.M. discusion thread".)

 

Alright, cats and kittens; who here likes R.E.M.???

 

Who here doesn't really know much by or about R.E.M., but is looking for a place to start?? We'd be happy to help you figure it out -- uh, whoever "we" ends up being, but surely there's another R.E.M. fan or two on here besides just me.

 

My personal R.E.M. story!!: I always knew "Losing My Religion" and "It's the End[...]", because everyone does, and eventually "Pop Song 89" as another favorite band covered it. In 2011, at age fifteen (yes, yes, I'm a relatively young Laker...), I grabbed New Adventures in Hi-Fi from my local library, as I liked the cover art (I still do!) and was interested in what the album would sound like (I still am!); it was pretty good! I dug it! Hooray! In 2013, I arbitrarily grabbed Accelerate because, I don't know, it was there and I felt like grabbing another R.E.M. album, so that's precisely what I did.

 

Well, okay -- here, we go back to Bruce for a moment. You see, I've loved Bruce's music since 2009ish or so, he was my favorite for years -- but it's only in late 2015 that I decided to listen through the albums I hadn't yet heard (including some pretty fucking important ones). Hearing, like, "The River" and "Atlantic City" for the literal first time when I already adored the guy turned my adoration into obsession, and I spent much of 2016 listening VERY heavily to Springsteen!; it's then, and during the 2016 tour, which I'll still always remember fondly, that I came upon this very site! Anyways, in late 2016 -- after the second U.S. leg wrapped up -- I was like, "Hey. I should do this with some other band. Who else might have great songs I'm missing out on? Uhhhh, how about that R.E.M. band?" I checked out Automatic for the People, since some ranking online compared it to Darkness on the Edge of Town and I had heard of it enough to know it was popular -- aaaaaand I was fully converted. Within the following couple years, they rapidly fucking shot up on my last.fm charts from my 23rd most-played band (or thereabouts) to my fourth, rapidly and abruptly eclipsing bands I've loved for as long as I've listened to music. I adore them.

 

Since that time I've listened to most of the albums!!!; I still haven't heard Monster, Up, Reveal, Around the Sun, Collapse Into Now, or Dead Letter Office (I do know the Chronic Town songs, though) -- so there's still more R.E.M. for me to explore, which is an exciting prospect!! -- but I've heard the others, though I still haven't spent as much time with Fables or parts of Reckoning as I should.

 

This is my introduction story and the context in which this thread is created. I love this band -- while still having, quite frankly, zero awareness of their history as persons or as a band that leads from one album to another or contextualizes them, the way I know it for Bruce or many of my other favorite artists, and there's still a large sum of R.E.M. albums I haven't heard! Which is weird, and leads to something of a disconnect! -- yet, that disconnect makes them ever-intriguing, as there's still more and more and more to learn, on the horizon.... I simply know of them as "a band that did a lot of really good songs I like a lot." But, from what I already do know (which is a lot), I adore them.

 

I could of course rattle off favorite albums, or songs -- but, well, if this thread takes off, there's plenty of time for that. If I instead zoom out more and try to say, generally speaking, what I love about R.E.M.... first and foremost, there's a great diversity to their catalog. I mean, "Belong" and "Sweetness Follows" and "Leave" all by the same band within mere years of each other? "Radio Free Europe" and "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" by the same folks as "The Flowers of Guatemala" and "Cuyahoga"? And all of this from the band that's more known for straightforward pop-rock like "Pop Song 89" and "The One I Love"??? Wild. I'm sure there are other, more diverse artists out there -- but, man -- there's a lot going on with R.E.M. Maybe that's why their play count is so high; there's an R.E.M. song for nearly any vibe I'm in. But they're a very colorful band that put out quite a lot of different songs, which all shared very strong songwriting.

 

Additionally, though, inasmuch as there is an over-arching thing... and there isn't totally, this wouldn't apply to all R.E.M. or even all the R.E.M. I love, but, earlier tonight, I finally found a way to describe at least some portion of R.E.M.'s appeal: they have this..... uniqueness to them, that -- on at least some songs -- leads me to feel this kind of dissonant, yet pleasantly so, feeling of, "...man. Man. What exactly is this? What's going on here? I'm not.. I'm not totally sure, but.. it's really good." At the same time, there's far weirder music out there, of course. So I think, with R.E.M., it's that, while they can be VERY idiosyncratic at times, it's still, generally, with strong elements of mainstream rock that make it accessible to me -- an ever-individual, often unpredictable, yet still distinctly them variation on a common formula that's deeply embedded in my consciousness. Like they're taking songwriting ingredients and structures that I know, yet they're also adding these very individual ingredients that are quite new to me -- their frankly rather odd voices and harmonies, used weirdly yet well -- that leave me so hooked, so intrigued, by this unfamiliar, yet sort of familiar, thing they do - their individual spin on the type of music they create. I don't know, but I think something like that is the appeal. Not of all their stuff, but of some of it; it sure as hell felt right while I was listening to "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)", at any rate.

 

I guess that's a big part of it. R.E.M. aren't too out there... yet they're often, well, a little bit different... and I think I'm a little bit different, too, sometimes. So maybe that's part of why it resonates so strongly. Who knows.

 

So. Who's with me? Who loves R.E.M.? As a jumping-off point, when did you get into them, and what draws you to them?

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4 hours ago, CrushOnOutlawPete said:

(

So. Who's with me? Who loves R.E.M.? As a jumping-off point, when did you get into them, and what draws you to them?

R.E.M. is maybe my favourite band of all time.

Frist R.E.M.song I ever heard: Driver 8. Then the Fables album which I sometimes think is their greatest album.

Saw them live once in 1989.

I will post more later.

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This is still a near perfect album to me. I own it on CD and vinyl. I know its likely not a true R.E.M. fan's favourite, but it is mine.

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Out Of Time is probably not a true fan's favourite, more than Automatic.

When 'your band'  suddenly gets world wide succes... I had mixed feelings about that too in 1991 but my love for Out Of Time has grown over the years.

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9 hours ago, CrushOnOutlawPete said:

 

Since that time I've listened to most of the albums!!!; I still haven't heard Monster, Up, Reveal, Around the Sun, Collapse Into Now, or Dead Letter Office

You should listen to Reveal then, a great album.

Up is a great album too, the album where they tried to re-invent themselves after Bill Berry had left; but not one of the R.E.M. albums to start with.

I am not a fan of Monster myself and I would not really call it essential but it also seems many fans like it.

Dead Letter Office, the B-Sides compilation, for sure is not essential but fun to listen to. Including some covers and in their very early days R.E.M. also played Born To Run live.

Around The Sun  is considered R.E.M.'s worst album but still has Leaving New York, their last truly great song.

I like  (not love) Collapse Into Now too but again it is far from essential.

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17 hours ago, Lampi said:

R.E.M. is maybe my favourite band of all time.

Frist R.E.M.song I ever heard: Driver 8. Then the Fables album which I sometimes think is their greatest album.

Saw them live once in 1989.

I will post more later.

R.E.M. are becoming my favorite band!, ESB excluded as a semantic cop-out. Historically Better Than Ezra have been, and I don't quite think I can put R.E.M. there yet until I've become more acquainted with more of their catalog... but I'd say, once I hear like Monster and such, and once I start truly being converted on their earliest stuff (which is already starting to happen; over just the past several days, Chronic Town and Murmur have been growing on me more and more and starting to truly resonate in the way they do with most fans!), them swinging over to my favorite is probably more or less inevitable.

 

"Driver 8" is pretty cool; however, Fables is an album I still need to focus on more and let grow on me -- right now, Murmur is starting to, but I'm sure Fables will soon, too. That said, I absolutely ADORE "Life and How to Live It"; it makes me want to punch down a fucking mountain. I'd love to hear more about the show!, as I of course never got the chance to see them myself - and yeah, by all means post any thoughts you've got on them!

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17 hours ago, SteveJhb said:

This is still a near perfect album to me. I own it on CD and vinyl. I know its likely not a true R.E.M. fan's favourite, but it is mine.

Oh, absolutely. It's phenomenal, easily my favorite R.E.M. album, surely in my top 10 non-Bruce albums of all time, hell probably top 5. I absolutely adore it and have a giant poster of it on my door, and I'm at least a true enough fan to have made this thread. I'm in an R.E.M. chat server on Discord, and people there definitely like Automatic and it's a very highly regarded album. I think most diehard fans tend to gravitate more towards Chronic Town, Murmur, and like maybe Reckoning and/or Fables, but absolutely people still definitely hold Automatic for the People in high esteem and R.E.M. fans who have it as their favorite definitely aren't hard to find.

 

I could go deep on that album. It's fucking perfect. And I was barely thinking of it while making this thread!! -- that's what gets me about this band is, like... right now I'm listening to New Adventures, last night it was Murmur, I can be listening to any one of those and thinking about how good the band is -- while forgetting that, oh yeah, they ALSO did Out of Time! - or - they ALSO did Automatic for the People! - or - oh yeah, they ALSO did Lifes Rich Pageant! It's so fucking wild how many classic, phenomenal albums, that have such distinct identities, came out of this one band.

 

I adore Out of Time as well, and it's actually likely my second-favorite... kinda funny, I end up having their two most well-known as my favorites yet I didn't get into them from either one, haha. It was actually surprising for me to find out that Out of Time was by far their best selling -- it shouldn't have been, because, duh, "Losing My Religion" -- but, like, when I was just listening through it at face value, nothing about it said "hugely commercial viable" to me (even compared to other R.E.M. albums!); I'd say it's for sure a little more artistically weird than, I don't know, Document or Automatic or Green or even some parts of LRP maybe. Like, yeah, "Radio Song" (almost typed "Radio Nowhere...") and "Shiny Happy People" all say 'big, hit single!!' -- and "Losing My Religion" of course is one, though frankly it doesn't sound a whole lot like one! -- but, like, "Texarkana"? "Me in Honey"? "Country Feedback"? "Endgame" and "Low"? And, most of all, fucking "Belong"???? Frankly, a lot of that album sounds weird to me! -- in a good way, I love it -- but what I mean is, there's a kind of dissonance to a lot of the album's songs, and variance between the songs, and creativity to be found there, to where I absolutely wouldn't expect it to be the huge commercial knockout. I'd absolutely expect the album with friggin' "Belong" and "Texarkana" to be some hidden gem only fans know about.

 

11 hours ago, Lampi said:

You should listen to Reveal then, a great album.

Up is a great album too, the album where they tried to re-invent themselves after Bill Berry had left; but not one of the R.E.M. albums to start with.

I am not a fan of Monster myself and I would not really call it essential but it also seems many fans like it.

Dead Letter Office, the B-Sides compilation, for sure is not essential but fun to listen to. Including some covers and in their very early days R.E.M. also played Born To Run live.

Around The Sun  is considered R.E.M.'s worst album but still has Leaving New York, their last truly great song.

I like  (not love) Collapse Into Now too but again it is far from essential.

I definitely plan to listen to them all!; however, I want to listen to them in order, and thus far haven't quite found a time when I've wanted to sit down for Monster; no matter, though, as it's giving the other albums more time to grow on me, which will enhance my appreciation, eventually, of their development as a band, and make me appreciate the later ones more. Indeed, I might be actively waiting, on some level, to hear the later ones for that reason -- since I can only hear them for the first time once, you know -- so the more I know going into them, the better, and I for sure need to spend a bit more time with Reckoning and Fables, and meanwhile Murmur is just starting to hit me.

 

Yeah, Monster seems... not quite polarizing, but something like that; I've definitely heard Up praised as underrated. I rarely hear people mention Collapse Into Now at all, but I like the idea of it being a knowingly final album that has all sorts of allusions about that, at least; we'll see when I get there! I know Around the Sun isn't popular -- but, yeah, I've heard people praise "Leaving New York" pretty strongly. I do know the song "Electron Blue", actually -- only one off any of those albums I know (I adore "Sing for the Submarine", so when I found out "electron blue" was a reference to another song, I of course had to check it out) -- and like it quite a bit! So, I'm... optimistic, sort of! I don't know. I imagine I won't love it, but I seem to like "Electron Blue" at least 40% more than most fans seem to, so, eh, maybe I end up considering the album overall a 5.5/10 instead of a 3/10 or something? We'll see!

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Love the fred.  Big REM fan myself.  This hasn't gotten a ton of publicity, but 3 of the 4 REM members reunited in Atlanta at a benefit concert at The Fox Theater  to fund the arts.  Also was Bill Berry's first appearance with or without the band since 1995.  

 

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10 minutes ago, Kooly said:

Life's Rich Pageant. Begin the Begin and Cuyahoga are awesome.

The first four songs are an awesome opening on what is maybe R.E.M.'s greatest album.

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REM were always band I hugely admired but never quite loved.

Some of their albums were great, and I saw them once in concert on the Monster tour. They were really good but I doubt I would have bothered to go and see them again.

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REM is what I have second most of. I have the catalog. There was a time when I fell out of love with Bruce and it was REM. That has switched back now.

I have only seen them once live. Stipes voice was great and the sound was good, but the whole concert lacked animation. It was like they were going through the motions. I thought they could do better. 

 

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I'll catch up on some of the comments here soon enough, I'm sure, but for the record, I just heard Monster for the first time.

 

My overall view was ambivalent-leaning-negative, and a longer explanation of that can be found in the "Albums you've listened to?" thread.

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Some additional thoughts after a more focused relisten on some of my early favorites:

 

- "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" is a good song I could see growing on me, though still ultimately feels a bit like the poor man's "Departure".

 

- "Star 69" is an absolutely peculiar, odd, distortion collection of sounds that I like quite a bit. Everything about it is distorted and weird and muddled, yet it somehow feels like it's got a totally expected rock energy I could easily hear on the radio. The more I listen to it, the more I like and appreciate it, actually. This song shouldn't work as well as it does. It's like if you tossed "Orange Crush" into a blender for about four seconds. I like this one a lot, it's impressive. I do wish it ended less abruptly, though.

 

- I think part of why "I Don't Sleep, I Dream" was (and, of these three, currently easily remains) my favorite is that I can actually fucking hear Michael Stipe's voice and tell it's him singing haha. It actually sounds like an R.E.M. song for once.

 

- Jesus, yeah, "Strange Currencies" does sound like "Everybody Hurts". A lot, haha, wow. It's a fine song, though. If the guitar were a bit less distorted, I'd like it more, but the distorted guitar does objectively work here and fits the album, just a barrier to entry for me personally.

 

I'll give it more time before revisiting any of the others.

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On 9/27/2019 at 8:43 AM, Wasted in the heat said:

Love the fred.  Big REM fan myself.  This hasn't gotten a ton of publicity, but 3 of the 4 REM members reunited in Atlanta at a benefit concert at The Fox Theater  to fund the arts.  Also was Bill Berry's first appearance with or without the band since 1995. 

 

Thanks! I'll need to check this out, and see what some other R.E.M. fans I know think about it.

 

On 9/27/2019 at 3:00 PM, Kooly said:

Life's Rich Pageant. Begin the Begin and Cuyahoga are awesome.

 

On 9/27/2019 at 3:14 PM, Lampi said:

The first four songs are an awesome opening on what is maybe R.E.M.'s greatest album.

LRP is excellent! Probably my... fourth?-favorite album of theirs, but the title worked for a thread title. I do think there's a strong argument that it's their best, though. "The Flowers of Guatemala" is probably my second-favorite R.E.M. song of them all, "Fall on Me" is beloved with very good reason, "Cuyahoga" is good and I'm pleasantly surprised to see it's so popular, "Hyena" is outstanding with a great energy, "What If We Give It Away?" has a great mournfulness and "Swan Swan H" has a strong kinda Fables-y, kinda "Half A World Away"-y vibe, "Underneath the Bunker" is a nice little curiosity, and "I Believe" is growing on me rapidly as of late; I ignored it for a while, but now I'd easily call it one of the best. It honestly borders on overwhelming just how fucking many truly great songs I keep finding even on albums I already know, like there's so much off the first three records I still don't really know.

 

On 9/27/2019 at 5:53 PM, Kent Guitar said:

REM is what I have second most of. I have the catalog. There was a time when I fell out of love with Bruce and it was REM. That has switched back now.

 

Ha, yeah, I'm much the same in switching back and forth between them, in recent years. Fun to know we've had a similar journey. What are some of your favorites?

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I can never work out how to search or relaunch old threads on this forum but somewhere there has been some quite detailed REM stuff ( as I remember it ) including a piece from me asking about a concert in Manchester played in a partial power cut.....to which someone very helpfully answered.

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I'm not a huge fan, but I enjoyed Monster a lot back in the day, and still have a lot of time for New Adventures (and Automatic to some extent)

Saw them live on the tour for Up and they were pretty damn good.

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7 hours ago, robk1 said:

I can never work out how to search or relaunch old threads on this forum but somewhere there has been some quite detailed REM stuff ( as I remember it ) including a piece from me asking about a concert in Manchester played in a partial power cut.....to which someone very helpfully answered.

 

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Here's a side treat if you're into R.E.M.   They (minus Stipe) did an album with Warren Zevon back in the early nineties.  This was one of the highlights....

 

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On 9/28/2019 at 10:52 PM, CrushOnOutlawPete said:

- "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" is a good song I could see growing on me, though still ultimately feels a bit like the poor man's "Departure".

Listened to Departure now. I think What's the frequency, Kenneth definitely has better vocal melodies. The verse in Departure is kinda cool I guess but I'm a much bigger fan of melodies than of spoken word.

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My R.E.M. live experiences (w/ date, opening band and venue)...

12-Aug 1985   R.E.M.   The Three O'Clock   Cleveland, OH   Music Hall
11-Nov 1985   R.E.M.   10,000 Maniacs   Lexington, KY   Memorial Coliseum
7-Sep 1986   R.E.M.   Fetchin' Bones   Cincinnati, OH   Taft Theatre
23-Oct 1986   R.E.M.   Camper Van Beethoven   Cleveland, OH   Public Hall
30-Oct 1987   R.E.M.   dB's   Oxford, OH   Millett Hall
4-Jun 1995   R.E.M.   Lucious Jackson   Chicago, IL   Rosemont Horizon
                 
                   
                   
I did see Stipe perform with 10,000 Maniacs during a Washington DC pro-choice rally back in 1989 or so.   But, I think I saw them during their best years...YMMV.                  
                   
                   

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