Best of R.E.M. - I.R.S. or Warner Bros???? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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04-16-2004, 02:00 PM
I've always been much more fond of the early years myself, as most of you that know my taste in music would no doubt guess. I have all those IRS albums on vinyl and almost nothing after that. Strangely, I was never really as big a fan as that might imply, but I'd just about take any pre-Green album over anything that came after. What made this really clear to me recently is listening a lot to the 16-song best of the IRS years CD that I picked up from the library last week (and yes, I did copy it, but don't tell). This is an Aussie import and is kind of like an expanded edition of Eponymous (which always seemed kind of a rip if you ask me, although I never bought it). Anyway, it's a very strong collection and, needless to say, a much better deal than Eponymous, although I'd surely change it a little bit if I was making my own collection. But it sure has a high jangle factor so it's kind of hard to fault.

So what's your favorite period, or favorite album? I guess my favorite album would be Reckoning. Yeah, that's the one. She's got pretty persuasion....God damn, pure confusion....and all those Byrdsian guitars, that's what I like best. And what was on the Mr. MidFi collection?

mad rhetorik
04-16-2004, 02:24 PM
There was something special about R.E.M.'s first four albums that make them a much more enjoyable listen than what came later. I always thought the mumbly-ness of Stipe's vocals on the early albums was an asset, along with the jangly guitars and gentle arpeggiated melodies which remind me of a modern Byrds. My favorite R.E.M. albums are <b>Murmur</b> and the way underrated <b>Fables Of The Reconstruction</b>.

After Warner Bros. signed them, the band made their sound more acceptable to the masses with clearly produced vocals and poppy hooks, and their lyrics often took a turn for the horrible (if I <i>ever</i> hear that goddamn "Shiny Happy People" song again I'm going to throw my radio out the window). Their deevolution parallels U2--over their careers they've gone from being unique and interesting to boring and glossy AOR rock, and should have retired by now.

04-16-2004, 02:37 PM
I'm with you on the IRS era REM. Document was pretty much where it ended for me. That was a great album, but it was also the album that took them in a decidedly more mainstream direction. I heard that they arrived at the general sound for Document by accident; before that, they purposely made the vocals and some of the instrumentation purposely sound murky and muddy (and they topped that off by not including lyrics with those earlier albums). It's not coincidental that their first full length album was called Murmur.

Adding to that murkiness, remember how they purposely made the title of their 1985 album reversible? Was it "Fables of the Reconstruction" or "Reconstruction of the Fables"? If you'd bought the LP, you wouldn't have known because the cover art and side jackets could be read in both directions, and they put different album titles on side A and side B. The CD release was a sad day because they definitively gave it one album title and eliminated the ambiguity.

Admittedly, Document is my favorite REM album.

To really understand the impact of early REM, you have to consider that they were pretty much alone in pop music at that time. It was really after the first wave of punk imploded, album rock was on the wane, new wave was going mainstream, and hip hop was still in its experimental stage. REM was pretty far ahead of its time -- they were really the first "alternative" rock band to get a wide following.

04-16-2004, 03:51 PM
I remember getting Green on the day it came out, listening to it, and my reaction being "What the f<a>uck</a> is this?!?" It was a huge disappointment for me after the string of fine albums REM put out prior to that. IRS era hands down for me; it's not even a contest, especially since I think Automatic for the People -- the one Warner album that many people seem to laud -- is highly overrated.

My favorite album is Murmur, followed closely by Lifes Rich Pageant. However, I think that the Chronic Town EP may be my favorite release.

Dusty Chalk
04-16-2004, 09:11 PM
Warner Brothers, here. I think they finally found their voice when they "sold out" -- I much prefer their poppier stuff.

That earlier stuff was drivel.