On the bus yesterday morning I was convinced that Feeling Gravity’s Pull was a precursor of I Remember California. Listened again last night and can’t hear it at all. Funny things, songs, aren’t they?
Enjoyed Fables a lot more listening to it now than I remember enjoying it when I was a teenager and I wrote it off as the only bad REM album. It’s clearly not that. However, I would say ‘Auctioneer’ is TERRIBLE and does its best to sour the rest of the record.
Fables is so weird. I definitely do like it more now than before but it doesn’t give it’s charms up easily. There are plenty of hooks but the production means you really have to dig for them. Then you find them and it’s obvious they were there all along, like they were hidden in plain sight.
I still don’t like Auctioneer and I really think that is what killed my impressions previously. Up to that it’s only really Old Man Kensey I don’t care much for (at the minute). I reckon previously I might not have made it past Auctioneer often.
I’ve l always like Can’t Get There From Here but I can’t decide if I don’t think it fits the record or if it’s in the wrong place on the record. It seems to break up the flow.
Kahoutek has gone up in my estimation the most. It’s still rising I think.
I’m not sure I’m ready to pronounce it a hidden classic, yet. I feel like the production will always prevent that for me. We’ll see…
I remember when I first started getting into early R.E.M. that Fables was my favourite of the IRS year, not sure that’s still the case now but with songs such as Feeling Gravitys Pull (man do they know how to open a album), Driver 8, Life and How to Live it and Wendell Gee there are some brilliant tracks on this album.
Some further observations:
1.I’m clearly in the minority in quite liking Auctioneer
2. I still can’t listen to the outro horns on Can’t Get There From Here without thinking of the opening credits to the sitcom Bottom.
I’m late to the party but this thread is a great idea. I like R.E.M a lot but having only got into them at the time of New Adventures in HiFi I’d only heard the albums from Out of Time to Reveal plus the IRS best of, so first time listening to these albums for me.
I’ve enjoyed all of the albums and Chronic Town so far but Fables is the one that has most immediately grabbed me and I’m particularly enjoying hearing their sound evolve here towards that of the 90s band I know.
I’ll be following this all the way through - never heard anything after Reveal as I found that album was enough to put me off going back, so hopefully there will at least be some good tracks in their later stages.
I’m clearly in the minority in disliking Life and How to Live It and Wendell Gee.
Thanks @woweezowee. I’m doing fine overall, but today would’ve been my wife’s 37th birthday so I’ve been reminiscing and feeling somewhat low this week. Another line in “Camera” kind of sums everything up:
“Will you be remembered? Will she be remembered?”
I’ve been playing R.E.M. constantly these last few weeks thanks to you starting this thread, so 1,000,000 thanks for that
I think I’ve decided Can’t Get There from Here works better as a final track. The hirhs at the end sound quite “final”. But, so does Wendell Gee. It might work as a penuiltate track though, big rousing end followed by gentle Wendell Gee.
Starting to wonder if they shouldn’t have ditched ‘Can’t get There From Here’ and put ‘Bandwagon’ on there instead.
Edit: I’m overthinking this - it’s bloody Fables, it’s great, shut up etc…
Man, I love Green Grow the Rushes. Really just a perfect song, note for note. I love the guitar sound he’s got too.
This along with Life and How to Live it, Driver 8 and Wendell Gee are the very strong back bone of the album.
I still struggle with this album.
It doesn’t feel as consistent as Reckoning or Murmur, it feels a bit staid and plodding in areas to me, yet I think upon reflection, this is a case of it paling by comparison to what went before rather than an objectively disappointing record.
There are some great tracks - Green Grow the Rushes, Driver 8 (I love Mills’ backing refrain so much) and Wendell Gee is right up there with Camera and Perfect Circle for me in the pantheon or genuine tender beauty in their early years.
In fact, I like the majority of the tracks quite a lot, even Auctioneer and Old Man Kensey, but the album as a whole just doesn’t click with me for whatever reason.
That said, it’s been a really good exercise to listen to it again after maybe 4 or 5 years and with more of an open mind than I’ve had before.
I think Can‘t Get There From Here makes sense sort of tossed into the mix of the album, it is the most Southern track on the album (which is really saying something) and does lighten it up a bit.
I suppose you could possibly call it the first of their dabblings with novelty pop a la Stand and Shiny Happy People…
I agree with GGTR and D8. The other two you list don’t do it for me at all.
The remaster has been a real revelation to me this week, and for the first time I’m hearing Fables as a precursor of sorts to Green. The difference is much more pronounced than on Reckoning and with the better sound I can start to hear the lineage from songs like Wendell Gee and Maps & Legends.
Took me a couple of listens to adjust to the difference and I understand why some enjoy the original in all its murk, but it’s just so much better on every level to me. All the newly discernible textures and lyrics are great to hear.
Been enjoying its lyrics as well. Such great surreal imagery that stops things getting too sugary:
He had a dream one night
That the tree had lost its middle
So he built a trunk of chicken wire
To try to hold it up
But the wire, the wire turned to lizard skin
And when he climbed inside
On balance, Fables is the first REM album that just falls short of being truly great. The best songs (opening 3 songs & Wendell Gee) rank alongside anything they’ve done but it’s a little inconsistent in between. There’s no bad songs on it, just the gap between best & worst is more marked than on the previous albums.
For absolutely no good reason I’ll measure it in Pitchfork rankings - 9.1
Hi folks, sorry this is a day late this week, but something came up. I don’t have time to post much in the way of preamble currently, but to avoid delaying things any further I’ll post up this week’s album now & share so e thoughts as we go.
One I always rank as one of my favourites, though I haven’t listened to it in a while. For this reason, looking forward to checking back in. So…
Life’s Rich Pageant
Arguably their greatest album full stop.
FAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLL OOOOOHN MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
When Michael sings “Let’s begin again” on the opening track, it makes think that REM are saying, “We have taken our sound as far as we can with the last three albums. Let’s try something different.”.
I’d have agreed with you on this until last week, but for me the remaster is so good that it’s now dislodged Reckoning for 3rd spot in my IRS rankings.