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R.E.M.'s Murmur (33 1/3) Paperback – April 28, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 22)
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (April 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826416721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826416728
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"33 1/3 is a fabulous series written with passion by an equally fabulous cross-secton of today's best music journalists. This series is a must for every serious record nerd out there! And I know the nerds agree with me cause I'm having trouble keeping them on the shelves." -Edmund LeStrange, Book Buyer for Waterloo Records

Mentioned –Philadelphia Weekly

“…Murmur is a lovingly rendered, well-researched look at R.E.M’s album of the same name, a gothic-tinged anomaly that seemed to come out of nowhere amid the New Wave avalanche of the early‘80s…illuminating.” –Cincinnati City Beat, May 2005

“I’ll leave the in-depth analysis of the record to Niimi, but trust me, this is a title worth reading more about...even if you still hate R.E.M. for unleashing that debacle called “Shiny Happy People.” –Radio Free Chicago, May 2005

"…the book does a good job of bringing the reader into the world of R.E.M. and the circumstances surrounding their official full-length debut album which changed the music world. A must-read for fans." — Mish Mash Music Reviews, July 2005 (Mish Mash Music Reviews)

“…the book goes a considerable distance towards explaining how this enduringly astonishing album happened.” –Uncut, October 2005 (Uncut)

"…the book does a good job of bringing the reader into the world of R.E.M. and the circumstances surrounding their official full-length debut album which changed the music world. A must-read for fans." — Mish Mash Music Reviews, July 2005 (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

J. Niimi writes about music for the Chicago Reader, SPIN, City Pages, and SF Weekly, among other publications. In previous years he worked as a studio engineer, recorded eight albums as the drummer of Ashtray Boy, and hosted a weekly radio show on WHPK. He lives in Chicago with his wife and their two border terriers.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Its also a great look back at the times and trends that produced this fine record.
Amazon Customer
I've read a number of books in the 33 1/3 series, and to my mind they should all be like this one.
Charles Hanson
This book is highly recommended for anyone, and absolutely esssential for the R.E.M. fan.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JD in Portland on July 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book on Murmur is a great read. I am glad i stumbled on it at the check out counter of my favorite record store.

Mr. Niimi captured the record's weird and intangible magic, not

an easy feat. He did a particularly good job examining Bill Berry's

unusual playing style and incalculable contribution to not

only R.E.M.'s sound but compositions. Even though Niimi himself is a drummer, he explains things in a manner any non-musician will appreciate.

He also got some great quotes out of producers Don Dixon and Mitch

Easter as he delved into the details of the making of the record. Along the way he tells the terrific story of R.E.M.s rapid rise from Athens bar band to architects of the college rock, indie rock explosion of the '80s.

I followed R.E.M. very closely in this time frame and the author captures the feeling and emotional impact that R.E.M. had on its fans quite well. The book brought back many good memories. I highly recommend it to both the casual and serious R.E.M. fan.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By happy boy on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really didn't expect much when a friend guided me to this book. All he mentioned was the track by track analysis of instrumentation and arrangement. But the amazing part of this book is the latter section dealing with language and the effectiveness of non-linear, yet familiar lyrics in evoking feelings beyond logic and language. I became consciously aware of an intuitive process through the shared experience of the record and the author's thoughtful considerations. Quite a bargain for the price!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of the 33 1/3 Series from Continuum Books and J Niimi's MURMUR is a fine addition. One problem I have with books of this ilk is the tendency to emphasize studio craft and the technical aspect of the making of a record over the content and emotional effect of the music. Mr Niimi avoids this nicely- although all the studio tricks are exposed in their entirety! Its also a great look back at the times and trends that produced this fine record.

After reading the book I put the record on and, after wading through the inevitable waves of nostalgia, rediscovered a great band and record that I haven't listened to for far too long.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Estey on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Murmur" was extremely important to me when it was released and over the past 20+ years, so I avoided this volume of the exquisite 33 1/3 series for a while. I wasn't familiar with Niimi's writing at the time, and had too many passionate feelings of my own about the album's psychogeography and visionary expressionism to tolerate someone so much younger doing a hack job. After skimming over the excellent lyrical analysis and the origin of kudzu as 'background' for the musical milieu behind the record's imagery, I knew I had to own this 33 1/3 as well. It turned out to be a must re-read last year, just as "Murmur" itself was placed time and time again on my turntable the hot summer it was released in the mid-80s. I kept Niimi's sweet tome in the pockets of my baggy pants for weeks, his creative extrapolations of the album's content and musical statements roiling around in my mind at bus stops covered in debris and fauna, skimmed again and again before sets bands played at clubs. A perfect read for a perfect album -- I actually think new copies of "Murmur" should be sold with the book inside the cellophane.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Andrews on September 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
There are so many things that I like about MURMUR, J. Niimi's recent book on R.E.M.'s legendary 1983 album of the same name, that I scarcely know where to begin.

On one hand, there's the crisp organization. This compact book is broken into four chapters that provide in efficient succession (1) crucial background information on the band and the album, especially the technical aspects of the latter's production; (2) a song-by-song and line-by-line perspective on an album whose expressionistic and often absurdist lyrics are famously difficult to understand and/or to ascertain; (3) a reading of (and, perhaps more importantly, "a listening to") the album that emphasizes ideas of the sublime and positions this work of musical art as an instance of the Southern Gothic impulse as filtered through the ephemera of the 1980s; and (4) a second reading of the album that accents the semiotic and the linguistic, examining MURMUR and its lyrics through, among other things, the lens of Walker Percy's essay "Metaphor as Mistake." There is also a very useful appendix in which Mr. Niimi supplies and in some cases reconstructs the album's lyrics. If you like the album, this appendix is worth the cost of the book.

I have little patience for baggy monsters and loose piles of crud prefaced by a title page and, less often, a preface. Mr. Niimi's organization is, happily, nothing if not tight and craftmanlike--no bags, no monsters, no crud. But what is most admirable about Mr. Niimi's structure is that it acts as a control on the very best aspect of the author's book, i.e.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam Gerber on June 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books on contemporary music I've ever read. Murmur 33 1/3 explores the band [REM] and most impressively, the historical and cultural context in which the music was recorded. Niimi deconstructs Murmur with surgical precision while leaving ample room for your subjective interpretation. If you like REM, you will absolutely love this book. Highly recommended!
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