Saturday, December 27, 2008
I admit that I came along a little too late to appreciate R.E.M. at its peak. By the time I entered my early teens, they were well into their grandiosely orchestrated, bombastically overproduced phase that gave rise to songs like "Everybody Hurts" and "Losing My Religion". The early IRS albums are about all I can listen to these days without earplugs. For what it's worth, let the record stand that R.E.M. were, at the beginning, a good little college rock band with tightly crafted, homegrown songcraft and a freshness that set them far apart from the commercialized crapola that passed for music during the 1980's.
"Gardening at Night" is probably my favorite of all their early singles. I can stand R.E.M. in minimal doses even at their best, since they get a little monotonous with repeated listens and their glaring technical limitations become ever more clear with repeated listens. Still, this is a great track.
Posted by Comrade Kevin at 7:31 AM
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Hmm, you're the first person I've known to share my esteem for "Gardening at Night." I didn't think anyone under 40 had even heard it!
The B side of "Murmur" is my favorite side of any rock album ever made.
I do think R.E.M.'s more recent stuff (after the pop hits you mention) is interesting for its dramatic depth, and the band seems to be free to go wherever it wants musically. A multi-album contract with Warner Brothers is the definition of "selling out," but it also has its advantages. Each phase of the band's career has been worth listening to IMO. I don't feel that way about many other rock bands.
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