YEAR RELEASED: 1983
CHART ACTION: #36 US, #100 UK
SINGLES: Radio Free Europe (#78, #25 US Mainstream), Talk About the Passion
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Well, I think every R.E.M. fan knows each track by heart.
LINEUP: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: R.E.M. creates a classic college radio album that spawned an alternative rock ‘revolution’ of sorts.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This album may have changed the course of music in the 1980’s, especially for the independent and college radio minded listeners. The mysterious lyrics and vocals, the sprawling, shimmering guitars, and the lack of flashy guitar solos that were unleashed here spawned an entire industry, as it were, of bands that tried to replicate the formula.
Of course, since they were from Athens, like the B-52s and Pylon, they created a land rush for bands from that area, even though R.E.M. (and all the Athens bands) were unique.
Musically, this phase of R.E.M. is what I’d call the ‘classic’ sound, ringing guitar runs, big melodic bass, and obscure, muffled vocals with obtuse lyrics, and a certain chemistry that great bands have when they’re all working together. The songs are tight and arranged well, and the production allows the band to breathe and explore.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: I.R.S wanted to use another producer besides Mitch Easter, and the version of “Catapult” that producer recorded horrified the band (keyboards were added, a click track was used, etc.).
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes – plenty of reissues with bonus tracks and live shows.
GRADE: A+: A stone-cold classic.