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In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (CD+DVD-A)

4.1 out of 5 stars 330 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

After putting Athens, GA, on the musical map in the early '80s, R.E.M. went on to become one of the world's biggest bands. Fusing folk, garage rock, pop sensibilities, and insightful lyrics delivered with Michael Stipe's inimitable lead vocals, these alt-rock forefathers built a massive indie following, and in 1988 unleashed their major-label debut, Warner Bros.' Green. This roots rock tour de force was followed in '91 by the Grammy-winning #1 blockbuster Out of Time, which led to an ongoing stream of masterpieces. These two classics, along with five more albums from R.E.M.'s extraordinary catalog-plus their retrospective Best Of-now each feature a Bonus DVD with Surround Sound audio and video extras.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 1, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Rhino Records
  • ASIN: B0006IIPKI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (330 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,384 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I'm tapping this out as the demo version of "The Lifting" plays in the background. This song alone could make this a 5 star album--one of the most beautiful rock song versions I've ever heard. And that's track 11 on the second CD...
Any "best of" type album from a band worthy of putting one out is going to be sniped at for leaving off personal favorites of the reviewer. That is the main criticism levelled here, and although I could do the same, it seems pointless. The first disc, the actual best of, is selected and sequenced brilliantly. The juxtaposition of "Kenneth" with "All The Way to Reno" is just brilliant. Similarly, the closing three songs (Everybody Hurts, At My Most Beautiful, Nightswimming) in sequence sound....perfect. The two new songs (Bad Day and Animal) are both good, though neither measure up to their best. As for the rest, it's hard to argue with the band itself when they say it is a "best of" and not a "greatest hits." Interesting that Peter Buck, in the liner notes, finally says something a lot of people always believe--"Man on the Moon" IS the quintessential REM song. The first disc, as a survey of some of their best work, works terrifically both as a summation of the last 15 years and as an introduction for those who don't know the band, or those who know them only casually.
The second disc is, for me, a bit more hit or miss. Frankly, I think that is to be expected, and anyone who's read the liner notes for "Dead Letter Office" will chuckle at Buck's comment that the album should be like browsing through a junk shop.
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Format: Audio CD
Whenever any band (especially a band with the breadth of music and talent that REM possess) releases a "Best Of", it is bound to disappoint fans and casual listeners alike. Generally speaking, it is more likely to disappoint fans when their favourite non-single tracks are passed up for the more mediocre but commercially successful singles. And casual listeners tend to bemoan the inclusion of songs that they have never even heard of.

Moreover, this collection faces the added handicap of not covering some of REM's best work, pre-1988 (that having already been covered by their 1988 Best Of, "eponymous"). So you won't find "End Of The World", "The One I Love", "Driver 8", "Superman" (which didn't make "eponymous" either) or "Radio Free Europe", etc. on this album. (Which is ashame given that people have the option of making their own Best Of albums via downloading).

But even considering these handicaps, this CD still fails in its mission of covering REM's Best of 1988-2003. Why?

1. The missing:
"Bang and Blame", "Shiny Happy People", "Crush with Eyeliner", "Drive", "Bittersweet Me" and anything from their MTV Unplugged (the acoustic "One I Love" is certainly worth a download).

2. The shouldn't be there:
a) New songs ("Animal" and "Bad Day") are simply not REM's best. Unless the only qualification for that honour is being released on a CD called "the Best of REM".
b) The soundtrack songs (especially "All The Right Friends" but also "The Great Beyond") are not up to par with the rest of the CD.

3. Overall:
The album should have focused a bit more on "Out Of Time", "Automatic" and "Monster" and less on the more obscure "Reveal" and "Up".
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Format: Audio CD
Quite a number of interesting selections on this BEST OF (read: NOT Greatest Hits) album. As the band has said, these songs represent their favorites since the release of their previous best of cd, Eponymous. Although I do suspect that their label had something to do with adding 2 previously unreleased tracks. I was most surprised at the addition of Nightswimming, just because it happens to be my favorite REM tune. All the Way to Reno, Sidewinder and Electrolite are also surprises. I like the fact that these are the songs that the composers enjoy. Any fan of this band will be sure to enjoy this album. There's not a bad song in the bunch.
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Format: Audio CD
if you're one of the ever growing numbers of people who have had it up to here with brainless top 40 "music"--and you don't already own REM's albums--by all means, buy this record!! nobody makes music the way REM makes music, especially in the current pop culture climate. you will regret not owning this.
a lot of people are getting confused between "greatest hits" and "best of." In Time is NOT a greatest hits album. REM have very few hit singles in their catalogue. certainly, most of the tracks on In Time hardly qualify as hits. this does not mean, however, that they aren't embarassingly great songs. In Time includes a selection of songs that the guys in the band thought best represented the last 15 years of their career. there are a lot of songs on this album that casual listeners have probably not heard. if you tuned in at "shiny happy people" and tuned out at "what's the frequency, kenneth?" then you have a lot to gain by checking out In Time. there is a lot of awesome REM music that has flown under the radar in the last 10 years and most music fans will appreciate the enormous creativity and boldness that REM has shown during this period.
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