R.E.M. Listening Club


AFTP really is an astonishing album.
Contains 2 of my top 5 REM songs in Drive & Nightswimming… Find The River, Try Not To Breathe, Sweetness Follows are not far behind… these are just ridiculously great songs.
The string arrangements are fantastic. Had a thought though, is this the album that made all those shit indie bands in the 90’s add strings to their crap songs in the hope of sounding anthemic?
I’ve been critical of REM’s tendency toward including a couple of throwaway tracks. Here though, I don’t have any issues. The likes of Sidewinder, Star Me Kitten & to a lesser extent Ignoreland work to change direction & act as palate cleansers.
Undoubtedly the peak of the Warners albums and sits next to Murmur & Reckoning in their top 3 for me.


I always blamed Oasis (‘Wonderwall’ in particular) for 90s indie bands adding strings to their songs.


The Verve took it to the next level though on Urban Hymns. i blame that post-Britpop heavily-emoting wave of bands for opening the floodgates. or maybe those are the shit bands he’s talking about


R.E.M. probably are indirectly responsible for a lot of terrible bands that followed. The Automatic strings opened the door for those terrible 90s anthemic bands mentioned - but there’s also Rockville providing a template for Range Life providing a template a load of awful early 00s landfill indie bands as well.


You are right, ‘Urban Hymns’ was probably the biggest influence on all that.


Right, I think we can fit one more album in this year – we’ll take a break after this until the new year. A great one to finish on then!

This was my first experience of hearing them releasing music in real time. I’d have been around 12 and think I was vaguely aware of their name, but probably not much more than that. I had Now 29 on cassette and amongst the likes of Pato Banton, Big Mountain and Whigfield was this otherworldly song with cryptic lyrics and a crazy guitar sound called ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’ I can’t in all honesty remember whether I initially liked it or not, but it definitely made an impression.

Not sure when I bought the album (maybe a couple of years later?), but by college age, it was a big record in my life. Still makes me happy to hear it now, so looking forward to revisiting again!

Often tagged “most returned album of all time”, this week’s record:



the singles from this album are superb imo. was fairly obsessed with Frequency for a long time, and i like how a few tracks on New Adventures return to that big fuzz-guitar sound. then it was on the Friends soundtrack which kind of killed its credibility. Tongue, equally, is a great song and fairly unique in their catalogue. great video too. i think this was their ‘MTV’ album, and i still tend to have that nostalgic sense of it. The whole album is pretty solid, yeah one or two duff tracks maybe but it kind of reminds me of U2’s Pop in that they go all in with a sort of scuzzy glam-sound whether it works all the time or not. Didn’t know til years later that that was Thurston Moore on Crush With Eyeliner.


I didn’t like this album at all when i first heard it, however, I LOVE it now. ‘Kenneth’ is good, but ‘Crush With Eyeliner’ is sleazy and brilliant. The middle run of ‘Star 69’, ‘Strange Currencies’ & ‘Tongue’ is great and ‘I Took Your Name’ has a wonderful menacing atmosphere. The album has more variety than it is given credit for. Also, i always associate the album with the 1995 tour when they were (probably) the biggest band in the world. ‘Monster’ is dark, creepy but, weirdly, fun and it is one of their most underrated albums.


Let’s not forget King of Comedy, which is great.


that distorted groove on Crush With Eyeliner where the guitar sounds like it’s sputtering behind the beat is awesome.


my ma hates rem but the old man used to get to play this in the car a lot under the pretence of “the kids like it” because me and my sister found the sad tomato line in crush with eyeliner really funny for some reason.

bang and blame is a proper banger


I’m pretty sure that monster was at peak singles releasing ear and six tracks got released as singles! I kept the rem calender that came with the 7" of tongue for years.


yeah i just read this… think there were videos going into rotation a whole year after the album was released.


It was this and the bends that made me think “this is getting silly now” when six songs on an lp are “singles”


Monster is magnificent.

I will try to chime in with a more detailed critique later in the week, but the above will certainly do if necessary.


hmmm, Wiki has Tongue as the ‘fifth and final single’ and it was - intriguingly - only released in the UK and Ireland. number 13 in the UK which is good for a 5th single. can’t believe they didn’t put Tongue on the best-of, i don’t think the band have had much time for it since.


A big part of that could be because Bill Berry collapsed with his aneurysm whilst playing “Tongue” live - I think I remember reading something akin to a “bad memories” effect in a subsequent interview.


Well it’s possible my memory is faulty but if I get the chance to root around in my old stuff in my parents’ house over Christmas I’ll see what I can dig out!


5 singles in the UK i think:
Strange Currencies
Bang & Blame

Also, i think the calender came with ‘Crush With Eyeliner’. The Tongue 7" single came with a cool enamel pin badge of the ‘Monster’ head.


There is definitely an interview the band did just before the album came out where Michael Stipe says that ‘Tongue’ is has favourite song on the album (think this is in the ‘Rough Cut’ documentary).