31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2003
The world might not have been collapsing around REM at the beginning of the 90s, but it was definitely changing. They'd moved beyond the distinct alt-rock that had gotten them known in the first place, they'd made two previous albums of stellar popcraft to die for (Document and Green), and it was time to try something new. So what did Out of Time have to offer? A veritable buffet of shiny songwriting gems, taken into new territory for this band. Outside the simple guitar/bass/drum alternative setup, this disc overflows with other little treats: mandolin, organ, slide guitar, strings and more vocal harmonies than they'd ever used before. "Radio Song" is a low-key groove embellished with some sweet violin and a guest spot by rapper KRS-One. (And though he chants some words, don't imagine that it's anything like the definition of 'rap' today. This is about as hardcore as vanilla pudding.) The mandolin-heavy "Losing My Religion" was an unexpected-yet-natural change from what had come before. "Me In Honey" is also sweet and remarkably bright, with Michael Stipe's heartfelt vocal delivery nicely complemented by Katie Pierson of the B-52s.
Speaking of strings, they pop up in more places than ever before: the cheesy-but-fun "Shiny Happy People" (also with Katie singing - but you knew that already), the sublimely sweet "Endgame," and the stunning ballad "Half a World Away." If there was any justice in this world, THAT track would have been the smash hit that won the band a heaping armful of Grammys. It's been my single favorite song on the album for close to ten years now, and considering how much I love every minute of sugary perfection offered here.. that's really saying something.
You may have noticed me using the word "sweet" more than is common, and.. well.. when talking about the quiet beauty of Out of Time, it's the adjective that comes to mind the most. "Near Wild Heaven" builds one simple riff into something that's positively endearing. "Belong" shows bassist Mike Mills speaking some vaguely hopeful words while a background chorus soars to the sky. He also takes a vocal turn on "Texarkana" (also with more of those beautiful strings), turning a regretful lament into one of the most driving tunes on the album. I guess it's inevitable that "Country Feedback" should seem a little out of place, since it's a sad half-dirge dropped amid a string of bright hopeful tunes. The earlier "Low" is saved from the same ill-fittingness: it's not dark so much as.. well.. just low. It's carried by a quiet organ and a vaguely disjointed batch of Stipe ramblings before a semi-harsh guitar burns things up for a brief moment.
I could take well over my allotted thousand words describing how much listening enjoyment Out of Time has given me in the past decade, but I'd only end up repeating myself. It's simply classic; not because it sold loads of copies and contained a couple singles everybody now knows by heart, but because it's a strong, solid offering that hasn't aged or dated at all since its release. It's a treasure.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2000
You just can't get better than this CD...It is a work of pure genius. From the beautiful chords that begin "Radio Song," which blends straight into "Losing My Religion," which I believe is one of the greatest songs ever written, it's amazing. Then the wonderful, downbeat "Low," seguing into the devestatingly beautiful "Near Wild Heaven." That song gets me every time. And then a beautiful instrumental, "Endgame," which I also love. Then one of the most upbeat songs I have ever heard and one that always puts me in a great mood, "Shiny Happy People." I know that many people complain about this song, but I think it is wonderful. Not only does it show that, as a band, they do not have a totally cynical outlook on the world, but there are some beautiful harmonies. It reminds me of a "California Dreamin'" type song or a Fleetwood Mac type song. I think people resent it too much when a group puts out a purely joyful song...Most call it "selling out." To me, that's garbage..I call it artistic expression. But anyway, this goes right into a beautiful haunting poem/song called "Belong," which has some beautiful imagery. The next two songs together speak of a Utopia, a perfect world that Stipes dreams of going to: "Half a World Away" and "Texarkana." The same ideas are carried through "Country Feedback" and "Me in Honey." In fact, despite what many have said, I find this to be an extremely consistent album with images that carry out throughout every song, as if they are all stories being told by the same character. From the giddy (Shiny Happy People) to the introspective (Losing My Religion) to the sublime (Near Wild Heaven), it speaks of escape to a better world (Near Wild Heaven, Belong, Half a World Away, Texarkana, Country Feedback)--perhaps "Shiny Happy People" is the Utopia for which Stipes searches in the other songs. There are songs of love and regret (Me in Honey, Losing My Religion), and commentary on modern life ("Radio Song," which also continues the theme of escape and the world being destroyed or "collapsing"--This theme is also seen in "Belong" and echoes R.E.M.'s earlier song, "It's the End of the World (As We Known It).") A wonderful, wonderful album and essential for a collection of the greatest music ever made.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2000
Out Of Time is the double edge sword for REM.It brought them to superstar status yet it brought the wrath of longtime fans who thought they'd sold out.In retrospect it seems a little extreme since at the time,there was nothing like it.In the time that hairbands were soon to become an endangered species,and Nevermind was just around the corner,REM released an album that took chances when most acts at the time(heck even today)ran a formula into the ground. Losing My Religion led the way with its delicatly picked mandolin and understated string arrangement.But for those who played only the aformentioned track 2(and sometimes track 7<Shiny Happy People>)were missing out on a great album.Near Wild Heaven,Shiny Happy People,and Radio Song are bouncy pop songs that improve on the peppy tracks on Green.But songs like Low,Half a World Away & Texarkana have an air of melencholy about them.Country Feedback build in intensity as Michael Stipe sing the most personal pre-AFTP song,and Honey In Me brings both sad & happy together on the final track.Old fans could yell sell out all the want,but OOT came out at the right time which also helped pave the way for more daring music to be embraced by the mainstream and make the 90's a memorable decade in music
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
On Out Of Time, R.E.M. moved into the slot of the biggest rock band in the world. The album was an unqualified success on all fronts and R.E.M. showed that they could mix up their sound, have a big commercial hit and still retain their artistic credibility. The one sound that is strongly utilized on Out Of Time is Peter Buck's mandolin. It drives many of the songs including the album's smash hit "Losing My Religion". That song became the band's most successful single ever, peaking at number 4 and the accompanying video has become an all-time classic. Despite its hit status, the song sounded nothing like any of the songs on Top 40 radio at the time and quite frankly since. They incorporate hip hop into the album's opening song "Radio Song" as Boogie Down Production's KRS-One provides his biting commentary to the song and his deep and rough voice melds perfectly with Michael Stipe's softer sound. "Half A World Away" is a beautiful song driven by a haunting harpsichord while "Low" is a deep, pulsating track. Fellow Athenian Kate Pierson from The B-52's provides vocals on two tracks. The first is "Shiny Happy People" which is just as upbeat and bouncy as the title suggests. The song was the second top ten single from the album peaking at number 10. The second is the album's closer, the much more intense "Me And Honey". The song has a driving guitar and Ms. Pierson provides a moaning background vocal. "Near Wild Heaven" is a gorgeous track with layered vocals that reminds you of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. "Belong" is a spoken word song that is built around a thumping bass line and a soaring chorus of "whoahs" being layered together. "Endgame" is a guitar rich instrumental, "Texarkana" has a lead vocal from Mike Mills and "Country Feedback" has ringing guitar work from Mr. Buck. Out Of Time also finds the band juggling instruments where drummer Bill Berry plays bass or guitar on some songs, Mr. Mills works alot on keyboards and Mr. Buck tries his hand on the skins. Out Of Time became the band's first number one album despite the fact that they did not have an extensive tour to support it. The success was based on the fact that it quite simply was a tremendous album by a band who had clearly grew into their creative peak. Out Of Time has the curious distinction of being the number one album on Billboard's first Sound Scan chart (which more accurately reflects sales) and the only album to hit number one pre and post Sound Scan eras. The 5.1 mix is excellent and the documentary is a revealing look into the recording of the album. The landmark video for "Losing My Religion" is also included.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2011
"Losing My Religion" is impeccably haunting. "Near Wild Heaven"'s (Brian) Wilsonian counterpoints are stunning. "Radio Song" and "Shiny Happy People" are a blast. The album tracks ("Texarkana", "Me in Honey", "Half a World Away") are consistently strong. That's 2 works of genius, 2 excellent tracks, and a strong compliment of tracks. If that's not a 5-star record, then there is no way of determining what a 5-star rock record is.
The R.E.M. fans calling this a sell-out are just nursing their sour grapes. This record is radically different from any contemporary rock records, and continues, 20 years later(!) to sound as innovative as it did the day it was released. As far as I know, the medieval-rock soundscape in this record has yet to be evoked as effectively by any other artist. This record is the opposite of a sellout. It's a shame that a small/vocal contingent of their original fan base presumes to "own" R.E.M. as well as the right to dictate to R.E.M. how they should sound. I'm convinced that most critics of mid-period REM (*Green* to *Monster*) would be hailing these records as masterpieces had another band made them. As it is, it is left to the rest of us to overwhelm this vocal minority.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2003
After its debut on the Warner label, R.E.M. changed gears and gave us "Out of Time", an undisputed classic in the R.E.M. catalog. Beginning the acoustic instrument bent that continued into "Automatic for the People", the boys constructed an album of truth, beauty, and, surprisingly, love songs. Michael said earlier in their career that he hated love songs, but the band produces an album of unique love songs, nothing like what was on the radio at that time - obessive, unrequited love ("Losing My Religion"), in-crisis love ("Me In Honey", said to be an answer to 10,000 Maniacs' "Eat for Two"), awkward, unsure love ("Low"), mother and child ("Belong"), and the end of love ("Country Feedback"). All these love songs, woven together with Michael's exceptionally beautiful vocals, Peter's newfound skill on both the guitar and the mandolin, and additional musical mastery by both Bill and Mike, present a solid musical tapestry. Add to the mix guest vocals by Kate Pierson and KRS-One and you have one unforgettable album.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2000
This is a great album. Right off the bat there are three great songs: "Radio Song" is catchy and quirky in its own way, "Losing My Religion" is, well, deservedly ubiquitous, and "Low" is just subtly delecable. Although I don't favor the songs where Stipe's vocals aren't too prominent, "Near Wild Heaven" is still a cheery and lively tune. "Endgame" is another of the band's keen instrumentals, helped by Stipe's odd yet beneficial vocal additions. I can't offer an unbiased opinion on "Shiny Happy People" ever since an... altered version of it appeared on Sesame Street, complete with Stipe and the band jumping around with a bunch of Muppets. I guess it shows that they're not ashamed to do that, but it still burned a strange image into my head. I've heard complaints about "Belong," but although I cannot in the least comprehend the lyrics, it's still one of my favorite songs due to the great (if lyricless) refrain and the kickin' background beat. "Half A World Away" is great. Period. Hauntingly beautiful and over far too quickly. "Texarkana" is... ok. I miss Stipe's voice, although the strings are keen. I've never really liked "Country Feedback." I dunno why. Too twangy. Or something. But I can tolerate it, and it's still better than a LOT of songs I've heard. "Me In Honey" is another upbeat, cool song that is above average in every respect.
Overall, this album is vastly superior to at least a few of R.E.M.'s others, and also to a lot of the crud that's coming out nowadays...
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2005
If you were to judge only by sales, then this is the album that justified R.E.M.'s move to Warner Brothers Records, since "Out of Time" is the first R.E.M. album to reach #1. "Losing My Religion" was certainly their best single to date, and the power of their new major label affiliation also made sure that it was also their best-selling (for a full-length review of this song, proceed to the end of this listing). If truth be told, this album is also their most inconsistent. High points like "Losing My Religion", "Texarkana", "Half a World Away" and "Country Feedback" are offset by semi-realized efforts like "Shiny Happy People" (a top ten hit in its own right, proving that many, many people disagree with me here), "Endgame" or "Low". When compared with the `hair-metal' that passed for `rock and roll' back in 1991, though, this album sounds like a work of genius. From just about any angle, the good far outweighs the ordinary (nothing here is bad per se), and by the time the album raps up with Michael Stipe and Kate Pierson (of the B-52s, who appears on 3 tracks here) harmonizing on the uplifting "Me in Honey," it is impossible to deny the charms of being "Out of Time." A- Tom Ryan
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2000
Until around the age of 13 1/4, I had never been really interested in modern music like rock and pop. There were the odd songs that I heard on the radio which made me think "That's nice, I hope they play it again sometime" then forget about them. Then one day I pulled a tape out of the player in my mum's car and saw it was the one we used to listen to in the car on the way to and from school when I was young. I had the wonderful feeling of nostalgia as I listened to the whole thing on my Walkman, and I made an effort to listen to this album every single day. My favourite song on this album is "Half A World Away", with "Losing My Religion" coming joint second with "Country Feedback"...Well, I like all of the songs as much as each other, although for a while I got into the habit of fast-forwarding through "Belong" and "Texakarna", but now I like them both. "Out of Time" was the album that influenced me enough to start buying new R.E.M. albums like "Automatic For The People", "Murmur" and "Monster", none of which have dissapointed me. "Out of Time" has something for everyone in it, whether it's "Country Feedback" for a depressed reject (like me) or "Shiny Happy People" for a shiny happy person. It was also thanks to "Out of Time" that I began rooting through the house and found other "car" tapes like Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA" and "Eurythmics Greatest Hits". I really can't fault this album, every song is inspiring and displays the wonderful writing skills of Michael Stipe and co. However, if a heavy rocking album is what you're after, I'd stay away from R.E.M. in general, apart from perhaps "Monster". Out of Time is for people who have varieties of tastes, people who enjoy a gentle ride through a wide range of textures and instruments. If you like this album, I urge you to buy "Automatic For The People". It took me a while to get used to it, but now I rate it as one of the best albums of the twentieth century (and I'm not being melodramatic, I mean it).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2011
Suddenly emerging as one of the most universally recognizable acts in mainstream rock after years of toiling in relative obscurity in the alternative genre followed by brief appearances within the Top 40 and partial commercial breakthrough, REM's 1991 release "Out Of Time" catapulted them permanently into the consciousness of popular culture. No real universal points of absolute demarcation can be referenced to pigeonhole REM with one definitive sound when discussing the evolution of the band's musical direction; this is a group that was kind of like Janus, looking forward and backward in order to blend previous strengths with new wrinkles in arrangement and instrumentation. Television and radio stations embraced "Out Of Time" as a collection of subversively poppy tunes heavily embedded with string arrangements, horns, and keyboard, augmented by the presence of other offbeat instruments, such as harpsichord, pedal steel guitar, congas, and mandolin.
REM produced "Out Of Time" with Scott Litt, and it's fully amplified, somewhat heavily orchestrated, and displays production values that were burnished to a glossy sheen. The strings first heard on "Fables of the Reconstruction" during "Feeling Gravitys Pull" are resurrected and lavishly interspersed throughout; "Near Wild Heaven", "Radio Song" "Losing My Religion", "Low" "Endgame", "Shiny Happy People", "Half A World Away", and "Texarkana" all contain some sort of arrangement, whether up front in the mix or simply serving as another textural element. Having previously employed horns on "Fables" ("Can't Get There From Here") and "Document" ("Fireplace"), the band punctuates "Radio Song" with brassy, call-and-response saxophone blasts, then introduces a wistful flugelhorn passage during "Endgame". The fluidly progressing percussive rhythms of the piano heard on "Murmur" ("Shaking Through") and "Reckoning" ("So. Central Rain" and Don't Go Back To Rockville") emerge again on "Near Wild Heaven" and "Belong" to provide a hopeful buoyancy to each. And the mandolin, serving as the focal point of "Green"'s "You Are The Everything" and included substantively on two other cuts from that CD ("Hairshirt" and "The Wrong Child") once again weaves its melodic way through the melancholy "Half A World Away" in addition to the universally acclaimed " Losing My Religion".
Most universally recognized as their best known (or at least highest-charting) popular songs outside of the preferences of their long-term fanbase, "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People" were played almost incessantly across the airwaves, and offer an interesting contrast to each other; the former imbued with a sense of wistfulness, in both lyrical and musical arrangement; the latter with a mostly positive, nearly joyous, upbeat vibe. The rest of the tracks on the CD can be aligned more or less respectively with one or the other based on the mood established by the tempo, arrangement, and instrumentation. "Near Wild Heaven", for example, is one of the definitively effervescent tracks on the CD, and can be grouped with the latter song, while "Half A World Away", with its expression of plaintive longing, could be included with the former, although stylistic variation ran the spectrum from the heavy, boisterous, faux-funk workout of "Radio Song" to the sustained explosive, fluidly-strummed, agilely percussive, long-unwinding burn of "Me In Honey" to the savagely deliberative pedal steel that infects "Country Feedback" with a haunting, mournful atmosphere.
And lost in all of the venom that some long-time fans were spewing over REM's advancement of their musical direction toward what was perceived as a widely commercial bearing is the underlying fact that in many ways "Out Of Time" was a release with country-inflected overtones, and one that was not mutually exclusive of the instrumental elements that contributed so much to the distinctive nature of their earlier sound. It's neither regressive or progressive, but a hybrid of sorts instead. While I'll always prefer old school REM, I listen to this CD with a little frequency because it respects its influences while using them to nudge the band to grow their sound further.