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Customer Review

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saving the Best for First, May 23, 2008
This review is from: Chronic Town [Vinyl] (Vinyl)
This litle 5 song EP was the high-water mark for an college/alternative-rock band from Athens, Georgia. Murmur, the first LP, was nearly as good. But everything after that, when lead singer Michael Stipe actually started using intelligible lyrics as a concession to "audience accessibility," was in my opinion part of the decline of REM. This is not to say that REM didn't produce some good Southern Alt-Rock all the way up to and through the Out of Time LP, (after that, I just can't bear it anymore), but rather that the quality steadily declined following the overlooked Chronic Town and the not-so-overlooked Murmur LP.

Gardening at Night and 1,000,000 are simply infectious, and who cares about understanding the "lyrics." Indeed, I believe that Stipe is listed as "lead vocal instrument" in the liner notes. And, such description fairly characterizes what he was doing with his voice in the songs, notwithstanding the occasional distinguishable word or phrase. In any event, if you want to know why the band called REM became so big, go back to Chronic Town and Murmur.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 25, 2014 8:18:24 PM PDT
Good observations about their old vs. newer releases. I started getting less excited around New Adventures. Really was a mostly downward slide from there. Though it has grown on my slowly, Around The Sun is pretty dreadful. To me their song to go out on was It Happened Today...

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 12:20:01 AM PDT
gcd says:
one million sounds like THE BANSHEES

Posted on Sep 28, 2014 7:00:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 28, 2014 7:45:37 PM PDT
I was an R.E.M. nut from basically Day One, although not nearly as Day One as the lucky
folks seeing them at parties and whatever down in Athens in the earliest days. Heard
Murmur and Reckoning on MTV and local LI NY radio and college radio and I was off
and running with my obsession. Same with the bands Winter Hours and 10,000 Maniacs (at least
the latter, at the time, I can't listen to them now but Winter Hours are still great--were, I mean!
And R.E.M. turned out later to have been fans of Winter Hours which is very intriguing indeed).

Anyhoo, I'm with you and have railed and held forth about this as you go on about
quite eloquently above. I disagree though, to the point that I think all the early stuff,
albums, up to maybe Document, are total masterpieces, Green let me down a good deal
but I was still into it at that point, Out of Time was solid but I still started doubting
and they were seeming almost "mainstream" by then, but Automatic For the People
I mainly just didn't mesh with and couldn't stomach.

I tried to stick with my boys after that, I really, really did. New Adventures in Hi-Fi has some moments but other than
that, I ended up eventually just giving up. I once (in the later 1990s) had two west coast
bimbos I ran into in some awful midtown NYC bar tell me R.E.M. (all of it) was "horrible old lame college music" which I VIOLENTLY disagree with, but only up to Document, after that, they might have even had a point!
Which could be sad but that's the way it was. But these two Coors-addled ditzes had zero taste
in anything from what I could discern, so don't go by the anyhow. I also had college-mates
years ago even slag off Chronic Town as amateur garbage, which I never understood:
if you're an R.E.M. fan from the early days, (or of the early phases) how can you not like
at least MOST of this EP? The production is a bit brittle but who cares?
What did those bimbos graduate to after college then, Pearl jam (what did they think that was? LATER
new era college music) The Georgia Satellites? Oh for Pete (Buck's) sake!

I'm still into this and I'd also rather listen to Dead Letter Office 1000x a day than almost any of the
wretched new pop trash coming out NOW. That's for damned sure. Have you heard Lana Del Rey yet?
Anybody that prefers that gobbage over even the entrancing Chronic Town is insane. or just has no taste, which is probably
more the usual case these days. "We'll Stumble through the yard/through they eyh, hay chey" (say what? nevermind apparently Stipes singing "A,P, T" ok, folks-l also used to think Ball and Chainnnn was "Farmer Channnnn!") He was one of the missing 7 Chinese Bros.!
spoken intro: "teeth!" Gotta love it, kids. But for my money Boxcars and Wolves and Gardening are the best tunes
on this. All equally great.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 28, 2014 7:02:26 PM PDT
Pure bollocks: I never thought this band ever sounded
remotely like anything by the Banshees! Ever. in my wildest
nightmares, even. Though ok, that song maybe isn't the best
on this EP! It's ok, repetitive without as much substance songwriting-wise
as the rest of it.
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