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By Robert W. Berg on January 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
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.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
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
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Format: Audio CD
"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.
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Format: Audio CD
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.Read more ›
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