R.E.M. Listening Club


I stand corrected in both counts. How many singles were there on automatic? Have a definite memory of despairing of rem and radiohead for releasing six singles from a twelve song album (the bends was a double a side though). Could well be misremembering but it was around the time of two part cd singles and idiot competist me spent more on those bloody things than clothing or food during my late teen years.


The Automatic singles were:
Man on the Moon
Everybody Hurts
Find The River

6 singles! Mental.


The curse of Monster!

On a similar note, Peter Buck on why What’s the Frequency… gets slower towards the end:

“The truth is, Mike [Mills] slowed down the pace and we all followed, and then I noticed he looked strange. It turned out he had appendicitis and we had to rush him to the hospital. So we never wound up redoing it.”


Ah ok that was the one that made me cry.

So so many bloody singles. I think my teenage self expected someone to be at my place and go “well you look like you have ALMOST all the singles off the bends but you’re lacking part two of street spirit so, sadly, I won’t be sleeping with you after all”


I love the idea that your response to appendicitis would be not to stop playing altogether but to play a bit slower. Mills is hardcore.


i’ve read a lot of interviews with Buck and he strikes me as someone who likes to gently embellish the truth, shall we say


Buck seems like a lovely bloke…but remember that time he went apeshit on a British Airways flight by throwing yoghurt around and shouting “I AM REM!”…weird.


Suede Coming Up is another example of this. 10 tracks, 5 singles (all top 10 i think!)


I love the lyrics on ‘I Took Your name’: “I don’t wanna be Iggy Pop but…if that’s what it takes”.


Such a good opener:


Nobody has mentioned ‘Let Me In’ yet. Great song and pretty rare to have a ballad with such a dense electric guitar sound (courtesy of Kurt Cobain’s guitar i believe).


My last day at work and Monster is my post breakfast listen while a do a little bit of work before we go to the pub…

Monster was my first REM album I listened to in real time. I started with Out if Time and Automatic but then Monster was my first new album. As someone above mentioned I also first heard Kenneth on Now 29! It instantly grabbed me and actually to this day I would say it was the song which pushed me towards rock. A switch flipped in my 13 year old head and all of a sudden all the rock my older brothers were listening to went from being noise to being actually pretty good.

Despite being my first it’s rarely an album I go back to for some reason. I think my brain filed it away as one of those albums that I rinsed to death and the album always felt quite boring compared to the ‘great’ REM albums. I also prefer New Adventures as it is more varied in style. Monster is very much a singular style throughout (Tongue excepted).

In reality it’s not, it’s a ridiculously strong album. Out of the 12 tracks there’s probably 2 I’m a meh about. I don’t sleep I dream and the closer You. I mean, they’re fine really, but I don’t get a kick out of either, and would happily skip. they’re not offensively back or even very fillery, like a lot of the IRS lesser tracks feel like.

The rest has aged very well. I think the decision to switch styles form Automatic was a great one. I think maybe they realised they hit a career high and the only obvious next step was to be very different. They also needed a good live album to play, and there’s a little of following Nirvanas lead from the grunge era too.

Kenneth is a classic single really. Perfect rock pop song. Also perfectly introduces the album and it’s sound.
Crush with Eyeliner and King of Comedy are also killer. I really dig them now, they’ve grown on me.
Star 69 has always been a bit throwaway but it knows what it is and isn’t afraid to show it. It’s fun, and a bit different again for them so it gets away with it.
Strange Currencies and Bang and Blame are also great singles. However I’ve never been able to shake my original feeling that the latter’s arpeggio was similar to Everybody Hurts. I think it put my younger self off, otherwise it’s a fine song.
Tongue was always my favourite. It stands out form the rest of the album, it feels deeper, more interesting, great falsetto. It feel like a cover of a decades old classic you’ve heard a million times, but it’s not.
I used to be quite indifferent to I Took Your Name, but these it sounds amazing. Great live too, and I can see why they opened some sets with it.
Let Me In is another classic. Really odd in how it’s a slow ballady type song really, especially with the lyrics, and knowing links with Kurt Cobain it adds poignancy too.
A bit like Star 69, Circus Envy for my is just good quality fun. A frivolous song to let your hair down a bit without too much attachment. Does it’s intended job fine.

Analysing track by track, and even at the end of this listen as a whole, I love most of this record. But for some reason it’s rarely the one I reach for to play. Why is this?


There was an REM specialist round on mastermind tonight. I didn’t do very well, but did get the one she passed on. Did anyone else see it and if so, how did you score?


Aye that was the easiest question too.
Some q’s only a super fan would know “who funded the sessions for…?”
Dunno mate I just like music tbf


I intended to keep up with this thread but failed to, sorry. However I wanted to chime in on Monster, as it’s probably the record in my life I return to most regularly.

I don’t tend to revisit a lot of music from this era either. Most of my CDs from the 80s and 90s sit gathering dust, but Monster opened up my mind to a whole new scene. Like others upthread, I bought Now 29 and Kenneth? got me intrigued. Then I bought Bang and Blame on tape in Asda for 50p and listened to it non stop for about 6 months until I could afford Monster.

I remember at the time it was pretty hated. Reviewed ok but no one really liked it. Felt like them trying too hard to a lot of critics and fans of their poppier singles. Even recall pulling Falco from mclusky up on an interview where he jokingly called it the worst LP ever.

To me, it’s great. A murky, fuzziky produced LP burying some of their most wonderful music.

Bang and blame remains perfect to me. Tongue is such a brave vocal. Let me in was the set highlight when I saw them live at TITP. I took your name has an ominous anger to it. Just find so much to love and delve into here.

Became obsessed with them after this, buying any magazine with Stipe on such as Ikon and Melody Maker, stayed up recording their Milton Keynes sets with Cranberries and Radiohead (that tour changed Radiohead forever by the way, they improved so much afterwards) and bought every LP bit by bit on tape over the next year. Think I barely listened to another band for 2 years as I couldn’t fathom how one band had made so much great material.

Is it a great album because of what it means to me personally or judged objectively? Hard to say. But for me, whilst I can strongly see arguments for others being better records, it’s my favourite.


I’d always thought R.E.M. are as close to a Mastermind specialist subject as I could get - and so I suppose this answers the question of how well I’d do not very well.

Still need to post up some thoughts on Monster. Christmas got in the way.


Overdue thoughts on Monster before we resume this again. Tracks 1-8 is an incredible run of songs, all of which make take me back to being a teenager. The production may now be a little dated in spots, but charmingly so I think. R.E.M. records often sound like products of their time, and no issue with that here.

The pairing of Star 69 and Strange Currencies is one of my favourite parts of the record. Star 69 is an exhilarating rush (the most energetic song they ever recorded?) and I love how it then changes pace and segues into Strange Currencies. The latter is like Everybody’s Hurts’ less eager to please brother.

The two weaker songs on the record for me are I Took Your Name and Circus Envy. They’re not bad, but I think I don’t think I’d miss them if they weren’t there.

I love that they stuck with the strummed and phasered distortion on Let Me In rather than turn it into an acoustic number. This and You are a great pair of dirges. I wonder whether they’d be better spaced out on the tracklisting a little more though, as I think having both late on contributes to the sense of the record losing its way a little towards the end?

Either way, terrific album – somewhere within their top 5 for me I think.


The Monster tour was my first gig. Absolutely amazing too.
Enjoyed revisiting it and still holds up really well. They were the biggest band in the world ™ and it’s a delightfully weird album in the context of Out Of Time and AFTP.
Love how they committed to their ideas and executed them without compromise. The sleazy guitars, Stipe’s extroverted characters, Mills rhinestone suit!.. but their intelligence and sensitivity shine through especially on Let Me In, Strange Currencies and Tongue.


Would love to have seen them live, especially on this tour. Great first gig choice!

R.E.M., Beastie Boys and Jason Molina are my three big regrets in terms of not getting tickets when I had the chance. Have to make do with living through youtube sets instead.

I agree with the lack of compromise on this record. That guitar tone is pretty unrelenting over the course of a full album, but they stuck with it and the result is a coherent piece of work that hangs together.


Love Monster. Shouldn’t work but it does somehow. Think it’s aged surprisingly well too. Kenneth, as a single, is still unlike any other single that’s been released isn’t it. Aside from Strange Currencies, I’m not sure it hits the peaks of Automatic but is still a record I love listening to.