R.E.M. Listening Club


I’m disappointed that I got way behind on this. Listened to Reckoning in the car this evening.

I think it may have been the first REM album I bought with my own money (though, thinking about it, this is almost definitely untrue). In a way, it kind of feels like the first album of REM as the massive band they became, rather than Murmur, which, as I said, still peculiarly sounds like they all disappeared under mysterious circumstances after the album was finished, but still has that weird, slightly haunted Americana feel (which iirc is explored more on Fables?)


(also apologies that I’m posting way behind)


Document. It’s a weird one. Absolutely love ‘It’s the end of the world…’. Don’t massively care for the other tracks, but don’t actively dislike any of them. The Wire cover’s kind of pointless. The production is sometimes a bit stadium-y. Probably could be cut into a great little EP.


Document is easily the worst of the IRS years, and anyone who says otherwise should be held in intense suspicion. Some great songs on there, but in all honesty none of them would seriously threaten an R.E.M top-20, let alone top-10.

Exhuming McCarthey is incredibly tiresome, and Strange is flat out awful. Don’t really mind the sax solo, and Lightning Hopkins isn’t the worst offender on the album. It is some testament to the strength of the IRS era that an album with Finest Worksong, Welcome to the Occupation, Disturbance at the Heron House, It’s the End… and The One I Love on it could be the worst by a considerable margin.

FWIW the correct order is Fables = Lifes Rich Pageant > Murmur > Reckoning >>>>> Document


Finally some sanity re: Document.


Everyone’s entitled to their opinion though and shouldn’t be held in suspicion for their preference of R.E.M. albums ffs.


Lightnin’ Hopkins is like a heavy metal song where they’ve forgot to distort the guitars


Lightnin’ Hopkins is very good apart from the first line where Stipe sounds like an Anthony Kiedis impersonator imho.


Irked! :wink:

It’s just a joke man. I don’t really hold any fellow R.E.M fans in suspicion. Those who dislike R.E.M, however…

Document is objectively the worst though


I thought my reply was pretty fair tbh and I’m not ‘triggered’ or anything.
Just noticed there’d been a few ‘no you’re wrong!’ style comments starting to creep into the thread and it’d be nice to maintain it as a nice open discussion about great albums where everyone’s opinion is valued :man_shrugging:

FTFY :wink:


Been umming and ahhing over the IRS years rankings over the last week

Fables has been the big Listening Club winner for me so far. The remaster helped the album to finally click with me and since then I’ve gone back to and been enjoying the original version from start to finish. Now at the point where I don’t think there’s a bad track on there.

Listening again this morning after a week of Document made me think of another issue with the latter. The straighter rock guitar sound leaves less space for Mills to cram in all those little countermelodies that bounce off the guitar parts on the first 3-4 records. It detracts from one of those unique features of the band for me, and it was great to hear that again while sitting in traffic earlier.

So, in terms of my rankings, I’m going:

Murmur > Life’s Rich Pageant > Fables > Reckoning > Document

There’s some degree of interchangeability between positions 2-4.

Life’s Rich Pageant just about shades second for the sheer strength of those first eight tracks.

Fables could find itself there in second eventually, but I’m currently wary of promoting new love over an old friend. Always thought the concept was great, but now for the first time I think the music is too.

Placing Reckoning fourth feels like a slight – not meant to be as the songs are awesome. If I’m having to find a reason to place lower than the others it’s maybe because it’s so direct that there are fewer layers and discoveries for repeat listens?

Document – if anything I now like it less than I did previously. Unlikely to be listening to it again for a good while.


So much this. I felt ridiculous having Reckoning at fourth best, as it’s really not that far off being number 1 (nor are Murmur and LRP). Just a frankly obscene run of records, where even one mistake can cost you top-3 status


A bit late to the Document party what with a very busy week last week but oh well. I think Document is an excellent album but it suffers with two things.

  1. it’s their most commercially accesible sounding album up to that point.
  2. It is following up on a run of insanely good albums.

I think if they hadn’t have been following up such a strong run of albums this would be more universally seen as an excellent album. It still has a lot of the things that go into a great R.E.M. album (a great run of opening tracks, some absolute classic additions to their back catalogue and some intersting/weird Southern-Gothic style influences, particularly towards the end of the album).

For their IRS years my current ranking would be:

Murmur > Reckoning > Fables > Document > Life’s Rich Pagent

however 1&2 are so close they could be interchangeable and positions 3-5 could also swap around if I was to rank them again in a few months time. Looking forward to going through the Warner years now.


Been enjoying the summarising of the IRS era over the last week, but time to say farewell to that now and hello to a new label and a new sound.

Puts their achievements into perspective when you consider that Green is album number six, and comes only five years after Murmur. Incredible.



Continuing with my Johnny-come-lately listening and onto Fables of the Reconstruction.

This album had me a bit confused for a while: the CD version I have doesn’t make clear on the back (or I never looked at it clearly) when the bonus tracks begin. So I always thought the last track was ‘Bandwagon’, and have never really gotten used to the fact that it ends with ‘Wendell Gee’.

‘Feeling Gravity’s Pull’ is a great opener. Although they are (or, I suppose, at this point, were) definitely a post-punk band, essentially; to me, this is the track of theirs that most screams “post-punk”. Anyway, the vivid evoking of a weird folk-America throughout the album is really interesting – like, very evocative of a certain folk image without ever really resorting to pastiche.

I dunno.

Great buncha lads


live update: I have just confirmed finally that, on ‘Maps & Legends’, Michael is (according to Genius anyway) saying “He’s not to be reached, he’s to be reached” and not the extremely more out-of-character “Smack a bitch, this dirty bitch”.

Like I never thought he was actually saying that, but I couldn’t really hear anything else when I listened to it


Been revisiting Green over the last few days. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I really like the sense that we’re being allowed to look in on the band in their chrysalis working out what they become next.

Three excellent tracks:
You Are The Everything - heartstoppingly beautiful. The lyrics are really poignant and I love the cajun feel with the accordion and mandolin. The first of their great ‘direct’ songs for me.
Orange Crush – dated production but a classic!
I Remember California – cool, moody riff and I always enjoy the lyrical imagery.

The pretty good
World Leader Pretend would be much better, but those messy drum fills grind my gears on every listen
Hairshirt – it’s not bad, but can’t help but compare unfavourably with You Are The Everything.
Stand is one of the better songs in the irritating R.E.M. cannon. I don’t love it by any means, but y’ know… :man_shrugging:

Of the others, Get Up is way to fillery for its second track placing, I Believe in What You Do should have been consigned to a B side, The Wrong Child is a mess and Untitled is a half finished idea that shouldn’t have been a closer.

For all that it’s quite an enjoyable listen overall. They’ve lost a bit of their mystery this time around, but I admire their sense of adventure.


I Could Turn You Inside Out


Yup, that one.


What about ‘Pop Song 89’?! Great opener.

I’ve always really liked ‘Hairshirt’ and ‘Get Up’ always sounded great to me.

The whole album does have slightly polished production which doesn’t do it any favours and hasn’t dated well. Still a really good album though.