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Comment: Softcover that has some cover and edge wear. Inspection of the interior pages did not reveal any underlining, highlighting or notes. This book has been shrink wrapped to better protect it in the warehouse.
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R.E.M.'s Murmur (33 1/3) Paperback – April 28, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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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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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: 4.7 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Even twenty plus years on, Murmur is still as hauntingly evocative as it was on its release. The novelty of the sound has diminished with the passage of time, but the details still compel -- the subdued, echoing vocals at the beginning of Pilgrimage, the backwards guitar in Perfect Circle, the strange instrumental bit between Shaking Through and We Walk, even the eerie images on the album cover. Niimi's book is a unique in-depth look at the the Murmur recording sessions, and the environment that gave birth to it. It is utterly indispensable reading for anyone touched by the album, or the band.

Niimi is at home in the recording studio, and provides a blow by blow account of the production details. I'd recommend reading it as you listen to the album - details buried in the song will emerge that you hadn't notice before. Throughout, we get a sense of the band's breathtaking originality and willingness to take risks. Buck and Stipe's contributions are well-known, but Niimi highlights the unique contributions of less obvious figures. Mitch Easter's production flourishes are all over the album, and are responsible for much of its unique, timeless quality; Easter and Don Dixon's song sequencing gives the album a strong, novelistic flow; and Bill Berry emerges as the unsuing genius of R.E.M., as composer and multi-instrumentalist.

I've read a number of books in the 33 1/3 series, and to my mind they should all be like this one. When you love an album, you want to get into it as deeply as you can. Niimi's meticulously-researched, vividly written work says all that needs to be said about the album and its unique place in rock history.
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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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