R.E.M. Listening Club


This one is so front loaded, the first 3 songs are ridiculously great. Cuyahoga is also excellent, but what chance does any song have following Fall On Me.
They were obviously going for a more rock sound on this one & as such it’s a very enjoyable REM rock record.
Think it loses it’s way a little in the middle order. Swan Swan H is absolutely gorgeous & should have been the album closer.
Ultimately I think this one a relative decline when compared with Murmur & Reckoning. Still a brilliant album by any standards, but their worst to this point.
Might keep going with my imaginary Pitchfork ratings (for no good reason other than to rank my worst to best when we’re done)… 8.5


I genuinely don’t understand how any R.E.M. fan in their right mind wouldn’t love The Flowers of Guatemala and I Believe. And Underneath The Bunker is a great little diversion. Hyena and What If We Give It Away are the only two less-than-excellent songs on the whole album, I reckon.


You’re right, both those songs are great. I should have said that it dips towards the end of the album instead of the middle. Underneath The Bunker, What If We Give It Away & Just A Touch are the weak links for me… Superman is fine for what it is but would have been better as a b-side or even as a quirky stand alone single rather than being tacked on at the end.


Oh shit, forgot Just A Touch. Yeah, not great.


Used to be my favourite. I think the first four tracks are probably the best run in R.E.M’s (or tbh, any band’s) career but listened to it for the first time in ages recently and was struck by how annoying I found parts of the second half.

Still think this is where I’d point someone if they asked me where to start with R.E.M. It’s a great transition between the early IRS albums and their rockier middle period. Look forward to catching up with it this week


my opinion is that I Believe is a lesser Life and How to live it. it was mentioned upthread that a few songs had been knocking around for a while and i wouldn’t be surprised if that was one. Flowers of Guatemala is nice too, but again it makes me kind of want to listen to Green Grow the Rushes instead.
funnily enough i really like Hyena


I Believe is possibly the bestest of all R.E.M. songs!

Or maybe Cuyahoga.


Can I just say to everyone that it EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that we punctuate as Lifes Rich Pageant


I think it’s a really great album that is also probably the weakest of their 80s albums - it sounds great and the ‘new’ songs are mostly amazing but definitely some slightly fillery older material. Not to do it down though, I think It has a strength as an album that transcends some of the weaker songs.


Having discovered their discography all out of order over the years, it’s always been hard for me to imagine how I’d have felt at the time discovering each new record as it was released. Listening more chronologically/intently over the last few weeks though, I’m starting to get a sense now though of how striking it is on this record to really hear Stipe’s lyrics being discernible for the first time.

He’s also singing with a lot more energy than on Fables…where you can really hear that he had to be coaxed into those vocal performances (and this is apparently how Voices of Harold on Dead Letter Office came about).


It’s funny isn’t it because even Spotify, itunes and Amazon have it down as Life’s…

The band claim to hate apostrophes, but I guess it’s a subtle enough quirk that it often gets overlooked.

On a related note, since about six minutes after starting this thread, it’s been niggling me that I missed the final full stop in the thread title.


So my Proustian flashback…

It was 20 Jan 1989 and I was moping about in ChInatown, Soho. I was meant to be at the ICA watching Jane’s Addiction, but the gig was cancelled after the fire alarm was set off. Got a £6 refund for my ticket. I was in Steve’s Sounds rifling through the vinyl and there it was. Lifes Rich Pageant. A fiver. Bought with JA ticket money. Still have it (with pencil scribblings on the back cover listing the correct playing order).


Lifes Rich Pageant!

Aww, fond memories of having it on tape as a kid and listening to it to get to sleep. No wonder I feel so warm and assured everytime I hear it now.

Such good energy. Every track’s singalongable. Some really nice lyrics (surely the best good lyrics:bad lyrics ratio of any REM album - apart from Superman, maybe, hah).


Same here. First album was Green, then Document followed by Lifes Rich Pageant. To me, R.E.M. were then a rock band with accomplished musicians, hi fidelity production and a singer with clear enunciation.

I had no interest in R.E.M. the lo-fi indie band with a mumbling singer.


I can fix that if you want?


Really behind on this thread. Have to stop listening to Tangerine Dream for a few days!


That’s probably R.E.M.'s weakest album!


Kalgeese, that would make an old pedant very happy. Thanks!


The out of order tracklisting has always been a little irritating to me - and to compound it, they even numbered the out of order tracks on the sleeve.

Agree with the general consensus here - Hyena is the only slight dip in the otherwise perfect run of the first eight tracks.

Always liked Underneath the Bunker - good interlude/change of pace and something we haven’t heard from the band before.

What If We Give It Away is fine I guess, though unlikely to trouble anyone’s favourite song lists, Just a Touch is pretty throwaway and Superman doesn’t do much for me stylistically.

Swan Swan H is essentially the template for The Decemberists whole career isn’t it…


I really like hyena :man_shrugging: