catapulted R.E.M. from campus cult favorites to rock stars of the highest order. The album contains three of the Athens, Georgia, quartet's most popular radio hits ("Pop Song 89," "Stand," and "Orange Crush"), punching up the big rock hooks and letting the spooky independent production slip away. Some diehard fans cried "Sellout!" but that's a strange attitude given singer Michael Stipe's environmental activism. "I'm very scared of this world," he sings above jangling mandolins on "You Are the Everything." It's still unclear what he's trying to say, but at least we can understand the words this time. --Steve Knopper
When R.E.M. graduated from I.R.S. to Warner Bros., they also graduated from clubs and theaters to stadiums. Their 1988 Warner debut reached #12, thanks to the hits Stand and Pop Song 89 .