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Collapse into Now
Format: Audio CD|Change
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I love this album. It has REM in majestic rocking form with the best collection of songs since before they lost their drummer and got a bit tedious with the ditties and filler songs in the 90s.

Why they would retire is beyond me. They still have it here and then some. The mixes are better than ever and the songs resonate loud and energetic and the lyrics don't fall into that overly precious category Stipes got into for awhile.

They are a seminal rock band who destroyed the world in the 80s and great songs are great songs from great groups and top to bottom there are great songs on this one.

Rediscover! them.
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on April 3, 2011
To be a current REM fans means treating each new release as a comparison to the greatness -- or the occasional clunker -- of the past. There is just no getting around it.

"Collapse Into Now" deserves to be judged on its own, but having been an REM fan since the mid-`80s, comparisons to the past remain inevitable. Some of this collection recalls songs of the distant past and some of the recent past. The band continues to evolve, yet it stays true to its core sound -- that is, its two core sounds -- the jangling, acoustic-guitar strumming and plucked notes with relatively clear Stipe-ian vocals and the fuzzed-up electric-guitar-driven sound first heard on Monster.

"Collapse Into Now" contains a bit of both. Many songs seemed to have flowed from "Accelerate," which I thought was an excellent effort.

"Discoverer" is a great opener, with a bit of the "7 Chinese Brothers" guitar sound opening the song then shifting to a driving beat. "All the Best" continues the theme, a punching beat.

"Uberlin" represents a switch back to the acoustic sound; it feels like it could have been found on "Automatic for the People." Peter Buck's trademark acoustic chord strumming combined with the plucking of the B and high E strings. It really defines how he plays acoustically. Listen to "Down by the Water" by the Decemberists and you will really hear what I mean.

I have to complain, though, that "Oh My Heart" is way too close a sequel to "Houston" from Accelerate. Michael almost re-uses the same line, going from "If the storm did not kill me, the government will" to "the storm didn't kill me, the government changed." I get the reference here, but something about it really bothered me -- to the extent that I am skipping this song. Michael is a gifted songwriter, so why recycle your old work? I know they recorded part of this in New Orleans, so this continues the Katrina theme, but it's too much for me.

I love "Alligator_Aviator..." but I long for Kate Pierson of the B-52s (as on "Shiny Happy People") on the female vocal party, though Peaches does her best to imitate the style. "That Someone is You" is a perfect follow-up here, with Mike Mills adding great high-end harmonizing in addition to his usual stand-out bass lines.

"Me, Marlon Brando..." recalls Neil Young's Pocahontas ("Marlon Brando, Pocahontas and me"). I read that Michael said it is about him asking Neil for advice, though how you get that from the lyrics is beyond me.

"Blue" closes out the release in an unexpected way. Michael's stream-of-consciousness lyrics lead the way through a trippy song, backed by Patti Smith's droning vocals -- very reminiscent of "E-bow the Letter" on "New Adventures in Hi-Fi." It sounds like a therapy session. I could have done without the flash back to "Disoverer" at the end, though.

All in all, well done by one of the best bands of the last 30 years. Still not their best, but not "Around the Sun" or "Up" either.
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on April 21, 2011
I've been a fan of REM since I first heard '1 Million' on college radio in the early 80s. This album shows that the REM well has not run dry. They continue to write intriguing songs, melodically and lyrically, and arrange and perform them with confidence balanced with a tinge of tonque-in-cheek and wry humor. Their music can be serious but they don't take themselves too seriously, in my opinion. I'm not going to get into comparisons with the rest of their repertoire - which is so prolific and varied in style that one can only name favorite discs or periods, not qualifying one over the other. I am giving this one five stars because it has a warm quality. Overall, it's less edgy in feel than some of their more recent work. It has heart and, even, soul - listen to 'Oh, My Heart' and 'Walk It Back'. In other words, for me this album is a rewarding listen.
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on March 18, 2011
In 1987, at age 14, I became exposed to R.E.M. for the first time when they released their fifth album, "Document", and the first single from that album, "The One I Love". MTV played "The One I Love" video endlessly it seemed. I hated R.E.M.

"It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was released several months later, and my opinion shifted slightly.

"Green" was released in 1988, and in early 1989, "Stand" was released and I was annoyed by R.E.M. I worked at a music store that summer, and "Pop Song 89" was up next, but this time I got to hear the entire album in the store numerous times, and my attitude improved even more.

I was primed for 1991's "Out Of Time" and "Losing My Religion". I still wasn't sold.

It would be 1992's "Automatic For The People" that finally won me over with "Drive" and "Man On The Moon". I bought it and thought it was great. I skipped 1994's "Monster", but in 1996 with "New Adventures In Hi-Fi" and "E-Bow The Letter" I finally bought everything R.E.M.

And so now here I am, 2011, one of the last surviving fans of R.E.M. and real music. Caring about a band that many would argue no longer matters. How did I get here? Would I like yet another album by R.E.M.?

Yes. In fact, "Collapse Into Now", after listening to it all week long, has grown on me like the kudzu on the cover of their first album, "Murmur". Elements from "Reckoning", "Lifes Rich Pageant", "Out Of Time", "Automatic For The People", "Monster", "Reveal" and "Accelerate" are put in a blender to make an R.E.M. smoothie. It feels great, really. While "Accelerate" found the band revitalized with a new producer, Jacknife Lee, behind the controls, it didn't have the feel and variety of "Collapse Into Now". As I listened, I actually felt myself caring about the songs, letting the melodies wash over me.

Now, "Collapse Into Now" does not show R.E.M. in a new light, but what it does do is play to the band's strengths. Sure, "Uberlin" sounds like a sped up "Drive" and my favorite track, "Oh My Heart" sound like something from "Out Of Time", but the band shakes things up with the rocking "Discoverer", "All The Best", "Mine Smells Like Honey", "Alligator_Animator_Autopilot_Antimatter", and they even add some balladry like "Every Day Is Yours To Win", "Walk It Back" and "Blue". I think the only song I am not really liking is "That Someone Is You".

Still, "Collapse Into Now" is one of R.E.M.'s finest, most cohesive works, in years. It's true. I listened to all of R.E.M.'s albums in sequential order leading up to "Collapse Into Now". I'd say that this album is the band's best work since 1998's "Up" (and I know many R.E.M. fans didn't like THAT album, but I did).

So, with "Collapse Into Now", R.E.M. become like U2, David Byrne, The Human League, Duran Duran, Howard Jones, Annie Lennox, The Cars, OMD, Patti Smith, and many other classic artists/bands that have been around 30+ years and still carry on long past what popular culture dictates. I don't really care if R.E.M.'s music or videos no longer receive constant attention. Remember how they began in 1983? No one knew them, not really until 1987, not until their fifth album. Nowadays you're dead in the water if you don't have a hit or keep up the hit making machine every album by your fifth album, if you actually get a chance to make five albums today. If people want to clog their ears with American Idol, Glee, and auto-tune, by all means, help yourself. I'm sticking with R.E.M.

Here's how "Collapse Into Now" compares to R.E.M.'s other works:

1983 Murmur: Four and a Half Stars
1984 Reckoning: Four Stars
1985 Fables Of The Reconstruction: Three and a Half Stars
1986 Lifes Rich Pageant: Four Stars
1987 Document: Four Stars
1988 Green: Four Stars
1991 Out Of Time: Four and a Half Stars
1992 Automatic For The People: Five Stars
1994 Monster: Four and a Half Stars
1996 New Adventures In Hi-Fi: Three and a Half Stars
1998 Up: Four and a Half Stars
2001 Reveal: Three Stars
2004 Around The Sun: Three and a Half Stars
2008 Accelerate: Three and a Half Stars
2011 Collapse Into Now: Four Stars
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on March 31, 2011
A fine record, with an "album" feel--it's not a collection of singles. A strong groove on "Discoverer" starts things off well, and "Oh My Heart" and "It Happened Today" are quite beautiful. The second half has a great groove as well, though I'm not taken with the Brando song as much as some other reviewers. The most important thing is to reserve judgment initially. The record didn't sink in until about five listens, but now I'd rank it somewhere in the upper half of REM's records, maybe as their fifth or sixth best (Murmur will always be at the top, with Reckoning a close second). I've listened to the band from their start in the early 80s, so I have perspective. This record is considerably better than Accelerator, which was much less consistent, much more disjointed.
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VINE VOICEon November 27, 2011
What a journey for such a band! After a greater-than thirty year career making sublimely good music, R.E.M. doesn't burn out or fade away. They leave us with a super nova explosion! "Collapse Into Now" is a love letter and thank you note to their fans. It's as if they held back one great song from each and every album, collecting them into this final masterpiece.

Their music has always defied the charts and neat categorizations, yet the songs have mass appeal and have burned themselves into our hearts. They are a part of our culture. If humanity had a sound, it would sound like this.

It's not the end of the world... just the close of one of the greatest chapters in the book of music history. An entire life of a band and its fans collapse into now. And I feel fine.
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on December 25, 2014
Brilliant swan song album from this band. Not a bad track on it. Continuing to push into new kinds of songs and new colors. Lots of great guest vocalists. Heartfelt lyrics and vocals from Mr Stipe. You can feel them saying goodbye to their career as a band and hello to what life would bring next. It's a joyful record that I still listen to often!
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on March 19, 2011
I've admired this band since leaving home for military service in the mid 80's. It took my independence to find an independent band who seemed to blaze their own trail, not being swayed by what others were doing. That's an honest band.

I bought this release by listening to the samples here. There's something to be said when you hear a good 4 or 5 songs in those samples. REM can be very proud of Uberlin, It Happened Today, Walk it Back along with Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I. Oh, and if Oh My Heart doesn't pull at your strings a little bit, you might want to check yourself for a pulse.

Regardless of REM's advanced career, they can be extremely proud of this release and people like myself thank you guys very much for it.
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on March 9, 2011
Have just ordered this.
Listened to it over and over on NPR's album listening party.
Thoughts: this is a great REM album.
This is what you want them to come up with.
Soulful, fun, playful and thoughtful. On par with everything from the past.
Best lyrics in years.
Sound that references the past without becoming a self parody of it. This is no cover band album.
I find it amazing when a band can get lost in the wilderness (their last few albums left me cold) circle back and find their 'sound'.
Nobody else can do this. Only them. If this reminds you of something else they did, it's because the ARE REM!
This sound is what they do! This is what they sound like!
Excellent album.
MP3 version give you two bonus tracks.
I opted for the CD because I already know I'm going to be listening to this over and over and really want the best sound.
Wish it came on Blu Ray in HD Audio PCM.
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on March 18, 2011
I loved Accelerate and so glad REM made another CD. This CD just grows on you. Just great music and melodies. So far I love at least eight of the songs. Does remind me of some of the older REM songs, which is good. I wish Bill would at least co-write some of the music with the guys, just tell him he doesnt have to tour. I hope they continue to make great music for many years to come. Also, I cant believe the low price of this CD. I was also shocked that REM would give out free songs (who does that nowadays?). Just goes to show the fans that they are not just in it for the money. Thank you REM.
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