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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very strong remaster
Obviously this is a classic R.E.M album that had them pushing the limits of their sound for the time and does not need to be reviewed again. What does need to be looked at is how well the remaster of the original album is as well as if the second disc is worth the repurchase

Firstly, the first disc does sound a lot crisper then the original cd pressing that has...
Published on July 12, 2011 by J. Berner

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice packaging. Great Bonus CD. Remaster is bone-cutting....
First off, this is a very nice package. The bonus content and extra printed goodies are fun. The story of this album can't be understated. It's a watershed moment in alt-rock. It's REM's "Revolver". For its fan's, the music is a timestamp for a place in their lives (for me it was my college days).

Everything's very sumptuous until you get to the original...
Published on June 22, 2012 by Mark Kozera


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very strong remaster, July 12, 2011
By 
Obviously this is a classic R.E.M album that had them pushing the limits of their sound for the time and does not need to be reviewed again. What does need to be looked at is how well the remaster of the original album is as well as if the second disc is worth the repurchase

Firstly, the first disc does sound a lot crisper then the original cd pressing that has been on the market. The remastering sound is definitely worth the effort, especially if you have a good soundsystem to listen to this on. The vocals are a lot clearer as can be heard on Underneath The Bunker and the music itself is crisper and cleaner.

The second disc is the Athens Demos. Obviously the songs are rough takes but they definitely are worth checking out as several of the songs sound quite a bit different than their finished versions. It is also nice to know that the sound quality on the demos is as crisp as it can be. Though the demos will only really interest fans who like to hear how the songs evolved. If you are not a fan of rough drafts then the second disc will not be as essential as the first.

I personally would have loved to hear some of these songs sung live during that time period.

As for the packaging, it is the same quality as the last reissue Fables of the reconstruction. You will get both discs in sleeves, a booklet with an essay that looks back upon the album as well as postcards and a poster.

It should also be noted that the track listings are still printed a bit out of order as it is on the original. Fall on Me is still track 3 even though it is listed as track 9. Same with Just a Touch, and I believe.

I do realize this was intentional but i liked that touch with the remaster.

I found this reissue to be worth the purchase and would recommend any fan of the album to pick it up as well.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Life" isn't "Out of Tune" but the remaster suffers from excess compression/loudness-a missed opportunity for remaster on CD, August 2, 2011
Everyone else has debated the merits of this album here so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about the artistic quality of the album except to say that this remains one of my favorite REM albums. "Lifes Rich Pageant" saw the formula of the first three albums altered alteration of the band's once murky sound in favor of clear, clean vocals and instrumentation. Producer Don Gehman ushered the band more into the mainstream with this album helping the band fashion a strong ROCK record that focused less on mysterious sonics and more on straight ahead Rock 'n' Roll.

Interestingly, Geham (according to the liner notes) convinced Stipe to deliver lyrics with a message that fans could understand but if you listen to the demos it seems he was already headed in that direction with much clearer diction so, perhaps, the band was already headed down the less rocky path of the indie band it was and decided to swerve into the lane reserved for mainstream rock artists.

The remaster is another matter entirely. While the detail is extremely good here on the remaster, it is compressed and loud sounding--there's no subtly (I'm not sure if there should be any but I doubt the mastertape sounds like this)to the presentation or the soundtstage on this remastered 25th Anniversary Edition. It suffers from many of the sins that have dogged other remasters including REM's recent deluxe reissues. My advice--hold on to whatever version of this sounds best to you because I doubt sincerely you're going to love this unless you're listening on earbuds from an iPod or mp3 player (or small computer speakers). You can then decide which one you like best. Clearly that's what this remaster was designed for. I suspect the decision to go with the compressed version here came from REM themselves. That said, the EQ choices for the mastering aren't quite as harsh as many remasters and there is a bit of dynamic range although peak limited appears to be used.

The real reason most fans are going to buy this set isn't because of the deluxe packaging--the booklet which is a measeley 12 pages doesn't provide quite the immersively experience for most boxed sets. The postcards are nice although hardly essential and the same can be said for the poster (most fans are of an age where a poster really wouldn't be high on their reasons to buy this)--it's because of the disc of demos. I do wish that Capitol/IRS/EMI had gone for a THREE disc set with a live disc from one of their better shows on the tour here in addition to the original album AND the demos disc.

The demos disc features 19 songs including some material that didn't make the final album (and some tracks that have never appeared in finished form anywhere). The material that appears here but didn't make the final album includes "Two Steps Onward", "Out of Tune", "Wait", "All The Right Friends" and "March Song" (which became "King of Birds"). There are also VERY rough drafts of some songs including "I Believe" where Michael Stipe just hums the melody of the unfinished song that are fascinating as it's like listening to the creation of the songs themselves and being allowed to hear avenues the band elected NOT to turn down for certain songs.

My only major issue is with the mastering of the album (and the demos disc); people who are going to buy the CD are buying it NOT because they want to hear it louder but because they want to hear the best possible sounding version of the album on CD possible. Those who want the compressed, louder version will, no doubt, download it.

I am disappointed that we keep going in this direction with remasters. If you want to hear this album the way it SHOULD have sounded my advice is to not purchase the CD but buy the vinyl (if you have a turn table)as Mobile Fidelity mastered the vinyl version (just go to their website and see about ordering it)and that, at least, promises a good sounding version of this album.

Recommended but only for the second disc of demos NOT the mastering of the main album.

5 stars for the album itself (and the second disc of demos)
3 stars for the mastering
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most underrated album in the last 25 years, July 28, 2000
By 
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
If you read the critics, they cite Murmur or Document as REM's best albums. But this is one of the few times that the critics are absolutely wrong. There is no question that Murmur is a great album, but it is not as accessible as Pagent. And by the time Document came out REM's sound had become very commercial. But Pagent lies in that wonderful but exceedingly rare territory where songs are richly textured and complex but highly accessible. Very few bands have ever been able to pull this combination off. This combination of complexity plus accessibility make it an album that can be listened to over and over. I think its the only album I own that I've listened to over 100 times, and still find fresh. That's why I rate it my favorite album, and the most underrated album I know of.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Sleeping Through This Rich Life, March 17, 2003
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
"I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract/
Explain the change, the difference between/
What you want and what you need, there's the key"
-- "I Believe"
A review, however written, however praised, I fear won't do this one justice. It's that good...the pinnacle of what R.E.M. has to offer, which is saying a lot in and of itself. To offer unabashed praise without reason is as empty as the soul of a record company corporate lawyer, so here goes.
After all these years of following R.E.M., I've just now noticed the cover art for "Lifes Rich Pageant" is none other than a close-up of Bill Berry upper mug. Who could mistake those bushy unibrows? And now he farms and has left R.E.M. a drum-machining threesome, but this is all beside the point...reason...where's the reason?
"Lifes Rich Pageant," opens up smoking and we hear Michael Stipe's voice clearly, lucid, growling, "Let's begin again, like Martin Luther's Zen." And so they have, once again recreating themselves in discovery which has kept their marathon career fresh, interesting, and relevant.
"Fall on Me," and "The Flowers of Guatemala," represent the genius of Stipe and Mills songwriting and are hauntingly beautiful. "Fall on Me," pays homage to the sky, gives religion back to the sky, fears the falling of the sky with the interplay of rounds between Stipe and Mills, "Don't fall on me (What is it up in the air for) (It's gonna fall)/Fall on me (If it's there for long) (It's gonna fall)/Fall on me (It's over it's over me) (It's gonna fall)"
Ther's silliness as well, but artistic silliness in a curious, "Underneath the Bunker," screams and yelps in "Just a Touch," and archaic arcane lyrical language of, "Swan Swan H." What does it all mean? R.E.M. is just beginning to flesh out their politics here and pays homage to a lost childhood with "Cuyahoga," the same Ohio river that caught on fire due to it being so heavily polluted and toxic in 1969.

This album really has so many layers like the peels of an onion, the music, the lyrics, the accompanying vocals layered and subtle, that you will find yourself years later still discovering things with closer listens. Though R.E.M. has put out some briliant music over the years particularly in "New Adventures in Hi Fi," and "Automatic For the People," none reach the watermark set by 1986's "Lifes Rich Pageant." It raves, it rocks, it reels, it rolls. It's a reckoning of a different order, a revolution, musical and deep...a must. One of my top three pieces of music I own and I own a lot.
There I told you I wouldn't do it justice, but don't let your music collection go without this one. There is a difference between what you want and what you need. You need this.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definition of Art, May 10, 2001
By 
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
I had no idea that the purchase of this cassette in 1986 would change my musical taste forever. Lifes Rich Pageant is simply perfect from start to finish. REM takes the listener on a roller coaster ride of driving, infectious pop and rich, intelligent ballads with a relevent social motif. I think the band really tried to create a unique album that would be smart and a bit more commercial than the previous four. "Begin the Begin" is a rocker that fittingly starts the album and contains one of Peter Buck's greatest guitar riffs. "Flowers of Guatemala" is a lyrically beautiful song with great harmonies and brilliant vocal layering. "Swan Swan H" and "Cuyahoga" are wonderful reminiscent ballads that add nice texture to the album. Most people are familiar with "Fall on Me" and "Superman" (the two songs that launched REM into the somewhat mainstream). Other great classic REM songs are "These Days", "I Believe", and "Just a Touch". There are no bad songs and like most REM albums, this one should be listened to in its entirety. A MUST!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R.E.M. turns to Satanic Death Metal!? Who'd'a thunk it??, January 19, 2005
By 
B (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
Okay, so the header isn't true. But R.E.M. did crank up the volume a little bit on "Life's Rich Pageant". There's still a lot of jangle, but now they've added some distortion to the mix. Thus, "Pageant" rocks a lot harder than the band's first three efforts.

But the main reason this album is such a winner is that it contains some of R.E.M.'s best songs. "Begin the Begin" and "These Days" is a killer one-two punch to open the album. Cool riffs, infectious melodies, killer hooks, and even some power chords!

And that's not the end of it. "Hyena" and "Just a Touch" are loose, rowdy, fun rockers. And catchy! Extremely catchy! The band is becoming masterful at crafting hooks at this point. It really shows.

Don't worry, there's plenty of softer moments too. "Fall on Me" is a haunting, beautiful song with a blissful pop chorus. "Cuyahoga" is similar in that regard. And "What If We Give It Away?" is a terrific mid-tempo number that contains one of Michael's prettiest hooks. The vocal harmonies and overdubs on these songs are wonderful.

"The Flowers of Guatemala" is one of R.E.M.'s best songs. It's a power ballad of sorts; the soft & dreamy beginning gradually builds up in volume until launching into a Peter Buck guitar solo. Not one of those "Hey, look at me!" guitar solos either. A brief, but memorable one. It'll probably give you goosebumps.

Other highlights (on an album full of highlights) include the jangly "I Believe" (a clear link to their previous albums), the chilling folk dirge that is "Swan Swan H", and the lighthearted coda "Superman" (a fun cover tune sung by Mike Mills).

You'll also notice that "Pageant" is a bit more politically charged than past R.E.M. albums. This would be an even bigger factor on their breakthrough follow-up, "Document", which is their most overtly political album by far.

Unfortunately, this album is often overlooked by most people (except diehard fans). It's a shame, because "Life's Rich Pageant" is one of R.E.M.'s crowning achievements. In my opinion, the best album of their IRS years. Don't pass it up based on obscurity.

Best Songs: Flowers of Guatemala, What If We Give It Away?, Begin the Begin, Fall on Me, Swan Swan H.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice packaging. Great Bonus CD. Remaster is bone-cutting...., June 22, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First off, this is a very nice package. The bonus content and extra printed goodies are fun. The story of this album can't be understated. It's a watershed moment in alt-rock. It's REM's "Revolver". For its fan's, the music is a timestamp for a place in their lives (for me it was my college days).

Everything's very sumptuous until you get to the original album disc. It's ear-splittingly EQ'd/mastered, and not in a good way. Now, it has been said, the original LP was not the most dynamic recording in history. But the original vinyl cut from Bob Ludwig still stands as the best way to hear this classic. I can't help but wonder if the band endorsed this version because its excessively loud and lacks any warmth present in the original LP. In fact, the previous IRS edition bests this version by a rather wide margin.

BUT --- the bonus "Athens Demos" is a monument in its own right. So therein lays the quandary. Do you buy this for the swag and the 2nd CD knowing that the original rehashed will disappoint? The answer resides in just how important this music is for you. For me, that 2nd disc completes the story. So, if you have the IRS reissue, that CD will supplement this set in the proper way, but only if you can buy this box for $10, as I did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R.E.M.'s Rich Recording, September 3, 2006
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
'Life's Rich Pageant' is the fourth R.E.M. full-length album, and like the predecessors, is accomplished. This album, like the others, has a trademark. Here it contains their most unconventionally conventional pop and rock songs. "...Pageant" contains propulsive anthems and some of their most pop-pleasing songs of any album. Their accomplishments were enough to propel them to the top ten next time around.

The anthems are positive pieces of power pop. "Begin the Begin," "These Days," and "I Believe" are uplifting. Some of the songwriting improved, and Michael Stipe can hardly be accused of mumbling the songs this time. "Cuyahoga" and "Fall on Me" are terrific lyrically and musically. They showcase how insightful R.E.M really is. The other songs are excellent as well, like the energetic and entertaining "Hyena" and "Superman" and the thoughtful and hypnotic "Why Don't We Give It Away" and "Swan, Swan H-". Song for song, 'Life's Rich Pageant' lives up to its title and delivers a C.D. just as worthy as most of R.E.M.'s best work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best......ever, October 18, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
"Begin the Begin" kicks off one of the best rock albums ever, and that song may be REM's best. Every song is great...even the hidden one! I don't usually comment on these boards, but this one has forced me to let others know about this CD! Typical Stipe lyrics mixed with Buck's pounding...just get it already!!! You won't be sorry!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Least appealing album cover ever?, November 6, 2004
This review is from: Lifes Rich Pageant (Audio CD)
Oh well, no matter. No one gets R.E.M. albums for their covers. LIFE'S RICH PAGEANT contains the band's hardest rocking songs, more than a touch of their strange side and brilliant songwriting throughout.

I recall having a mixed reaction when this first came out, but I just needed time to let it sink in. Now it's probably my favorite R.E.M. album.

I have to disagree with critics who insist the band's best work remains on its first few releases. They claim to love originality while simultaneously praising the derivative qualities of their earliest music (in particular, the Velvet influence).

When FABLES came out, some fans were less enthusiastic although I thought it to be their most brilliant one to date. I understand it was a difficult one for the band to record but the results are wonderful. Then, with LIFE'S, the band evolved its own sound even further, reaching far beyond the jangle-pop of previous releases.

The breakdown:

"Dinner Side"

"Begin the Begin" - heavy riffage, raging feedback and a rhythm like a runaway train guide Michael Stipe's powerful, insistent vocals. *****

"These Days" - The rock meter gets cranked up even higher on this intense follow-up to the opener. Totally rocks! *****

"Fall On Me" - a gorgeous little number and a worthy college-rock radio staple. *****

"Cuyahoga" - a personal favorite. R.E.M. must feel pretty passionate about this place; they sure laid down a powerful tribute to it. *****

"Hyena" - a fun song full of melodic notes that breezes by at a swift pace. ****

"Underneath the Bunker" - very strange Latin-flavoured tune with a bizarre distorted vocal from Stipe. ****

"Supper Side"

"The Flowers of Guatemala" - absolutely beautiful and strangely touching. *****

"I Believe" - A surprising burst from a rousing banjo kicks off this fantastic rocker. Jams around a great melody from Stipe. *****

"What If We Give It Away" - A more laid-back tune overall, this one really peaks with heartfelt choruses. *****

"Just a Touch" - frenzied rocking along with great piano and organ touches blast this one home. ****1/2

"Swan Swan H" - Beautifully picked and strummed acoustic guitars along with a superb melody make this quasi-waltz one of the best on the album. *****

"Superman" - another old college radio fav. One of the few cover songs R.E.M. have done, this is a totally fun song with a real 60's pop flair. *****

I've heard this one hundreds of times. Though my musical interests have since flown in dozens of different directions, I'll always go back to old R.E.M.
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Lifes Rich Pageant
Lifes Rich Pageant by R.E.M. (Audio CD - 1998)
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