R.E.M Only Partially Given The Cheese?

Even though Giving The Cheese is going so well, I cannot in good faith give R.E.M’s full catalogue The Cheese.  Shit.

R.E.M._-_Murmur    cfc7e7608ddd5fcd2e1b42cfe134ac8fc39cda40

I became a fan of R.E.M. in 1991, when Losing My Religion took over the charts and I bought the Out Of Time album.  I was in my first year of high school and the year 1991 was the perfect time to be 13 years of age.  Suddenly I found myself putting away the Bobby Brown albums and instead listening to obscure bands like R.E.M, U2, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More and The Smashing Pumpkins.  Many of these bands are obscure even today, that’s how alternative they were in 1991.  They were HEAPS alternative.

Unlike other artists, especially Springsteen and U2, the albums that R.E.M put out before I was a fan have just never gelled with me.  If you look at almost anyone’s list of favourite R.E.M albums (especially a hipster delight list) and you’ll probably find the IRS albums ranked right up the top.  For me, it just doesn’t work that way.

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The further back into the band’s catalogue I go, the less connected I feel to the music.  I quite like a number of songs from Document, Lifes Rich Pageant and Fables Of The Reconstruction.  Maybe even half of each album.  But outside a few tracks here and there, I’ve never connected with Reckoning or Murmur.  And Murmur is often listed as people’s favourite album from the band.

So, really, to give this period of the band’s music The Cheese, the list would look like this :

01      Document (1987)
02      Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
03      Fables Of The Reconstruction (1985)
04      Reckoning (1984)
05      Murmur (1983)

Yep, totally in reverse chronological order.  So in other words, it would be even more pointless than normal.

I’m sure I’d feel different if I was aware of the band when those albums came out.  But I wasn’t.   I do like Document and Lifes Rich Pageant more than Green…so that’s something, yeah?

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R.E.M Gets Given The Cheese

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Look at that black and white, grainy picture of the band.  They’re so obscure.

Yes, it’s only the post-IRS years that can be Given The Cheese, but regardless…the correct ranking for R.E.M albums is :

01 New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996)
02 Automatic For The People (1992)
03 Monster (1994)
04 Accelerate (2008)
05 Collapse Into Now (2011)
06 Up (1998)
07  Out Of Time (1991)
08  Reveal (2001)
09  Around The Sun (2004)
10  Green (1998)

The top 3 albums in particular are magic.

Unlike a lot of fans I don’t think the post-Berry years are terrible.  On a whole, they’re not as good.  It’s not a shock to suggest the band was better with Berry than with out him.  But those post-Berry albums have their place.

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R.E.M – Green (1988)

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GREAT SONGS :
World Leader Pretend
Orange Crush

VERY GOOD SONGS :
None

GOOD SONGS :
Pop Song ‘89
Get Up
You Are The Everything
The Wrong Child
Turn You Inside Out
Untitled

NOT MY THING :
Stand
Hairshirt
I Remember California

TRASH :
None

THE CHEESE : My least favourite post-IRS album from the band.  It just doesn’t do it for me.  You Are The Everything and The Wrong Child are borderline ‘Very Good Songs.’  Get Up, Turn You Inside Out and Untitled are borderline ‘Not My Thing.’  Most of the album falls into a middle category for me.  This no doubt has a lot to do with the fact I became a fan of R.E.M in 1991 and have always struggled a bit to connect to their back catalogue.  It’s just true, that’s all.

R.E.M – Out Of Time (1991)

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GREAT SONGS :
Losing My Religion
Low
Country Feedback

VERY GOOD SONGS :
Half A World Away
Me In Honey

GOOD SONGS :
Near Wild Heaven
Endgame
Texarkana

NOT MY THING :
Radio Song
Shiny Happy People
Belong

TRASH :
None

THE CHEESE : The album is a bit all over the place, it’s fairly inconsistent and I’m not surprised there is almost an even number of songs in each category.  Yet, somehow, it’s a good listen from start to finish.  It’s a sentimental favourite of mine because it was the album that introduced me to the band. 

I’m not a big fan of R.E.M’s b-sides or ‘rare’ material.  It seems to me that the generally speaking band’s best songs found their way onto an album one way or another.  ‘Fretless’ is a song from this era that is an exception. I’m not sure why that track didn’t make the cut, it should be on here.

R.E.M – Automatic For The People (1992)

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GREAT SONGS :
Drive
Everybody Hurts
Man On The Moon
Nightswimming
Find The River

VERY GOOD SONGS :
Try Not To Breathe
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
Sweetness Follows
Monty Got A Raw Deal

GOOD SONGS :
Ignoreland
Star Me Kitten

NOT MY THING :
New Orleans Instrumental No. 1

TRASH :
None

THE CHEESE : If R.E.M. made a classic album, it would have to be this one…yeah?  I love this album.  The top 5 songs are as good as any band has ever done.  

R.E.M – Monster (1994)

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GREAT SONGS :
What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?
Crush With Eyeliner
King Of Comedy
Strange Currencies

VERY GOOD SONGS :
Bang And Blame
I Took Your Name (is a great live song though)
Let Me In

GOOD SONGS :
I Don’t Sleep, I Dream
Tongue
Circus Envy

NOT MY THING :
Star 69

TRASH :
You

THE CHEESE : This album was a legitimate shock to me, more so than the transformation in sound and style that U2 underwent with Achtung Baby…though I’ll get into that later (how exciting!!!.) But I love the louder, edgier sound contrasting the much quieter previous two albums.  ‘I Took Your Name’ is my favourite concert opener for the band, I’m glad they kept going back to it over the years.  It’s a great live song.

R.E.M – New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996)

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GREAT SONGS :
Undertow
Leave
Be Mine
So Fast , So Numb
Low Desert
Elelectrolite

VERY GOOD SONGS :
How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us
The Wake-Up Bomb
New Test Leper
E-Bow The Letter
Bittersweet Me
Departure

GOOD SONGS :
Binky The Doormat

NOT MY THING :
Zither

TRASH :
Nil

THE CHEESE : My favourite R.E.M album and would probably be in my Top 5 albums of all time.  It’s so great.  Plus, I bought it the same day I went to my first and only Michael Jackson concert.  So…pretty good day for me.