Out of Time
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Out Of Time (25th Anniversary Edition) [Explicit]
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Certified at 4 million units by the RIAA. (2/01)
Matching their ugliest album cover with some of their most sublime music, Out of Time inaugurates the finest phase of R.E.M.'s work. This meditative yet sometimes seething album offers not only their greatest single since "Radio Free Europe" ("Losing My Religion," about which critics and programmers agreed for once), but a moodscape that ties together that song's ambivalence, the sneer of "Radio Song," the doom of "Low" and the sprightliness of "Shiny Happy People" and "Me in Honey." Their bestseller, and deservedly so. --Rickey Wright
Top Customer Reviews
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.
On 'Out of Time' the sky's the limit. They start with a loose and skillful rap "Radio Song" with scathing lines addressed to the aggrieved beloved. The song also skillfully parodies "Pop Song '89," which is itself a fun-filled mockery of pop music. Then, their anguished anthem "Losing My Religion" serenades the listener even in the midst of despair. Peter's expert mandolin playing and the alternative "wall of sound" they created shot this song nearest the top spot of any R.E.M. single. (Sour relationships and the alienation of stardom have shaken their faith.)
The angry despair of unrequited love continues even though the potpourri of music embellishes it in many different ways. "Low" is brilliant, even with its Velvet Underground influence. The desperation is stark and superbly presented. "Near Will Heaven" is sarcastic and innocuous at the same time. Sounding like a pop choir, the lyrics celebrate innocense and its overthrow in the same breath. Then, there is the pensiveness presented in the fine instrumental "Endgame". (As Tom Petty sang, "Waiting is the hardest part.")
The second half of the C.D. trumps the first. "Shiny Happy People" has the same effect as "Near Wild Heaven," except it is looser and more exhiliarating. The bitterness is apparent, but R.E.M. sings to cheer themselves up. (The video, especially Bill Berry's appearance, tells it all.) "Half a World Away" continues the pensiveness with a harpsicord-like accompaniment and a lyrical assertiveness that lets us know that love is more important than politics. (Not resisting comparisons, U2 demonstrated this by ending 'Rattle and Hum,' the movie and the C.D., with "All I Want Is You".) Then, "Texarkana," is arguably--yes, subjectively, too--the album's best song. With able delivery and finesse shown like on "World Leader Pretend," 'Green''s best song, "Texarkana" is a symphonic psalm that builds up to a crescendo, sung with bitter sarcasm by Mike Mills with fine back-up vocals by Stipe. If this weren't enough, "Country Feedback" is a brilliant piece of country alternative, complete with reverberation that evokes all the blistering heartache present. Even Michael Stipe's vocals trail off, too emotional to prevent a pause. After all this variety and brilliance, the album ends with a hopeful, exhiliarating, but desperate appeal. "Me in Honey" treats alternative like big band music with a gallop.
The energy and appeal of the music on 'Out of Time' is stunning. Certainly, the inspiration is exceptional, but the quality of musicianship, lyrics, and variety of forms presented is stunning and perfectionistic, especially when they loosen up their shirtsleeves like never before.
There are some tracks that make a difference and the more I listen the more I think it is great. I did buy it for the 5.1 mix, and I have to say it is great too.
This should be part of your collection!