TITLE: Lifes Rich Pageant
YEAR RELEASED: 1986
CHART ACTION: #21 US, #43 UK
SINGLES: Fall on Me (#94, #5 Mainstream), Superman (#17 Mainstream)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Cuyahoga, I Believe
LINEUP: Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: REM changes its sounds and style in many ways – making a crunch harder-rock album with clear vocals.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After several years of similar sounding songs (jangly guitars, mumbled vocals), REM breaks out of its box, and revs up their rock-and-roll influences.
On many songs, Peter Buck’s guitars roars with power chords and feedback and Bill Berry hits the drums with fury. The biggest change is Michael Stipe’s vocals. For the most part, they’re clear and you can hear every word. The meaning and lyrics are still oblique, but you can pick out what he’s saying. Only on a couple tracks does the band soften and slow down, and even on “The Flowers of Guatemala” Buck’s guitar gets loud and insistent at the end.
Track-for-track, this is their strongest record since their debut and creates a sound that would carry REM into the future.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Because they’re REM, the track list of the back of the album is all mixed up and the closing track on each side isn’t listed.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, one with bonus tracks and another with demos for their 25th anniversary.
GRADE: A: A fantastic record and a welcome change of pace.