R.E.M. Listening Club


Contemplating dying on the hill of Texarkana here, lads.


A quick gin-soaked attempt to catch up Greenward:

There was a time (15ish) when I considered this best album of the IRS years, and circa early 1996, a contender for best R.E.M. album overall.

How silly I was.

Yeh, nowadays to me it’s clearly the weakest of the IRS canon. Is it too commercial, too approachable, too obvious? No, it’s just too stuffed with filler - none of it poor by any non-R.E.M. standard, but not quite up to scratch coming from such hallowed musical wonderfolks.

That said, the “Page” side is mind-bogglingly strong, and if it didn’t feature the pleasant but ultimately unnecessary Wire cover, could contend for the “Best R.E.M. vinyl side award” with aplomb. Alas, the “Leaf” side is (even by my fanboy standards) weak - I’ve considered “The One I Love” horribly overrated for 20+ years now (hot take ahoy!) and my objective self doesn’t get interested until the admittedly wonderful ending that is “King Of Birds” then “Oddfellows Local 151”. R.E.M. history seems to consider LRP as the ‘rushed new songs + offcuts’ album, but to me Document fulfils this role, sonically if not in actuality.


Yeah, like others have said, I don’t think I can properly portray objectivity when it comes to Green. I first heard R.E.M. on the radio in 1991 (Losing My Religion, obv), became more aware of them in 1993, finally got AFTP early 1994 and utterly adored Monster when it came out in Autumn 1994. Green was the first R.E.M. album I got outside the early 90s trilogy, and growing up in a remote rural village with months to go before the next mainland trip, I had to order it from the local library on cassette and wait 6 weeks before finally grasping it in my sweaty palms.

Oh. My. God.

It’s no exaggeration to say that through early 1995 to autumn 1996 (when New Adventures came out), Green was my life. I loved and lived and worshipped every song on it, and nothing has changed since then. I completely understand people describing it as scrappy, poppy, trite, fluffy, a disappointment etc… because in so many ways it’s true. But! For me, Green as a whole is so, so, so much stronger than the sum of its songs, and will always fight in its own understated way for a podium position in my “all time R.E.M. album” competition.

Pop Song 89
So much fun, and one of the few songs featured on Beavis & Butthead I’d heard before seeing it on telly. They blanked all the breasts out, Stipe’s included.

Get Up
Oh, how could anybody consider this song filler? It’s so short but carries such an overload of information musically and lyrically it perfectly reflects dreaming. Sleepyhead Mike Mills’ counterpoint/contradictory vocals are gorgeous, and that brief clockwork chimes interlude is again such an evocation of the “just waking up, what’s real and what are dreams?” feeling :slight_smile:

You Are The Everything
I wouldn’t say it now, but for a large part of my life this was my favourite R.E.M. song. Overall it’s too personal to talk about properly, but two things really stick in my mind just now:

Misheard Lyric Award: As a callow, dictionary starved teenager I heard “but this here ain’t your memory” instead of “eviscerate your memory”

WTF! Lyric Award: “And you’re drifting off to sleep, with your teeth in your mouth”

I can’t remember where I read it, but even Stipe horribly regrets and cringes at those words :smiley:

The Wrong Child
So many Stipes singing so, so many beautiful words. An early showcase of those devastating high notes he could hit.

Don’t forget this song. It’s utterly, utterly beautiful.

I can’t properly express how much I adore this song. It’s so simplistic and silly (but goofily gorgeous!) musically, but oh my, the lyrics and vocals! Stipe & Mills’ open, glorious, yearning vocals in celebration of Stipes’ parents is still so utterly joyful to listen to I genuinely have to hold back tears every time I listen :open_mouth:


Shiny Happy People. Very child friendly that will have youngsters jumping and up down and singing along. Just spotted it’s the fourth album in a row with a frivolous song that would sound great on Sesame Street.

There’s Superman on LRP. Document has End of the World and Stand from Green.


“Palate cleanser” - yep, you’re an R U Talkin fan alright :smiley:


I’ve been reading and enjoying this thread but not really contributing. But having been a fan from the beginning I remember each IRS album seeming to be a progression from the previous one. I sort of wanted them to move on from each album’s sound as I had completely absorbed and played to death each album as it was released. Therefore I can’t rank them any other way than In the order of release. They just seemed to be on an unstoppable ascent and the change of sound from each album was perfect for the times. Green was the first album I didn’t really enjoy from them and I really lost interest until Automatic.
Maybe that’s just the indie kid in me…


Oh God, have I started subconsciously passing off the R U Talkin guys opinions as my own?


The lyrics to this one are kinda mysterious aren’t they. I originally thought of it as a sort of major key Dead Flag Blues, but now I’m thinking its focus is more domestic than apocalyptic?


Despite Out of Time being arguably their biggest album, always felt it was a little critically underrated.

It’s definitely has it’s irritating moments. Shiny Happy People obviously (although do have a soft spot for this and is it really any worse than Stand, or Sidewinder?) and Radio Song is sublime for about 30 seconds before turning into a bit of a disaster.

But the high points… Losing My Religion is still untouchable and Country Feedback is possibly their best song of all. It barely puts a foot wrong on Side 2 after SHP, and Texarkana - Country Feedback - Me in Honey is one of the great R.E.M. runs.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia but the whole thing is so full of early-90s cheeriness. Actually one of the R.E.M. albums I revisit most now despite never previously considering it as amongst their classics.


Yes, this is the highlight of the album for me.


It’s a great run isn’t it. Bit of a missed opportunity not to have called side 2 the ‘out side’.

I’d love to hear country feedback stripped back to organ, pedal steel & maybe the guitar too. You’d have a nice drone piece there.


This week we pass the half way point in R.E.M. discography. Probably their commercial peak (7x platinum in the UK & 4x platinum in the US). Not sure it’s a record that needs much more introduction at this point.

Our next listening club record:

Automatic For The People


Yeah, I love Document too. I think it was the first IRS era album I got, so it has that on its side too. It also has King if the Birds in it, which is still one of my very favourite R.E.M. songs.


(Love this thread. Thinking about doing the same for HMHB in the new year.)

Not much to say for OOT for me - I don’t want to seem too negative. After all these years it still doesn’t really click with me… maybe it lacks the punky immediacy of the REM I really like.

That said, I love AFTP and that’s not exactly ‘immediate’… so keen to dive in again :man_shrugging:


The truth with Automatic is i played it to death when i was 13,14. Literally to death. And the radio plays a couple of the singles to death too, to this day. Don’t really feel like listening to it anymore, ever, even for something like this thread. Sweetness Follows and Nightswimming though, they can stay.


Wonderful album that doesn’t date at all. ‘Man on the Moon’, ‘Nightswimming’ & ‘Find The River’ might be the best end to an album ever. ‘Ignoreland’ is probably the only weak point on the album, but that is more to do with production choices.


Just chipping in with my Thoughts on Out of Time:
Crazily mixed bag of an album. Plus, most of the better songs all sound a lot better on various live albums (MTV Unplugged 91 for example).
Radio Song is totally rank, the only redeeming feature is the intro but it’s like something that was dreamt up by a committe “oh the kids love REM right now, and rap! oh and dont forget to have radio in the title to get some bonus airplay”. For a band that had done a lot of very strong album openers this is very counter intuitive.


‘Radio Song’ is pretty awful and is the only thing they have done which has dated really badly.


“Baby baby baby” “yo ho ho” :grimacing:


I like Ignoreland. Star Me Kitten is the weak track for me. Not a huge fan of Monty Got A Raw Deal either.