BCB 130 - REM

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kath
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BCB 130 - REM

Postby kath » 26 Sep 2014, 16:57

{editor's note: my brain is shot. "how can we tell the difference, kath?" you can't. at least i'm not writing about another 70s-bred band, right?}

speaking of the 70s, i missed most punk when it was happening 'live' (with a few exceptions, like the ramones). it wasn't as much temperment as it was place. i didn't have it around me. i didn't hear it on the radio or have friends blasting the records. i went straight from 70s style rock into 80s afterpunk. 'post' and 'alt' and 'new'. what punk i did pick up came after the fact.

just as my brother had turned me onto music in the early 70s, he paid me the same favor in the early 80s, when he had a stint as alt-deejay at tulane's radio station. he got me into many a new band. (oh, such fond memories of his taking me to see those furs at that club in baton rouge, when the brothers butler started brawling on stage.) the band he brought home with the most impact and staying power? easily, REM. it might not be so easy to explain why. mwhaha.

hm.

thinking back on it now, i might've had more of a chance to grow some punk of my own if i hadn't've spent a key chunk of time in the late 70s even farther and further away from new music. i had had severe problems in high school, which led to my ass gettin shipped north to my uncle in the small town of natchitoches [NACK-ah-tish], louisiana.

there's an impending point: from my perspective, it was forced exile. suddenly, i was a strange life form transplanted into an alien landscape out in the sticks. i was isolated. all the things i had enjoyed doing in new orleans with friends by nature~~talking about albums, books, movies, ideas, while acting out as decadently as possible with whatever mind-altering munchies lyin around~~all of it, cut off. i had to internalize most of that culture-clashing and frustration. it was quite the bizarre effect, feeling like i was from another planet, speaking another language... young but with the sense of kudzu settling over my fucquin train, even while i was living in a house with pictures of my ma as a child on the walls.

maybe the why isn't that hard after all.

i guess with REM, the appeal from the start was a band that sounded fresh yet dipped in natchitoches-style angst. they had the range that marks almost every band i've loved the most. jangly byrdsian pop with a modern edge. danceability. chiming gweetars more wicked than they might seem. an intelligent broodiness. (face it. stoopit broodiness is never all that interesting.) a flair for what happens in... stillness. private veins open for public display. a satirical eye and an undercurrent of controlled subversion. song-smithing, overall. songness *and* albumness. the band put out albums that held together well, that moved and developed as albums, in an era when singles and vid clips held increasing sway.

the thing is, they just kept doing it. waiting for the next REM album was exciting to me. i figured after hearing their second, reckoning, that they might be around for awhile, at least long enough to keep moving in interesting ways. sometimes a band hits me that way early on. a few alt-rock examples, pearl jam (bite me). radiohead (sigh). that blend of catchiness, depth and movement~~if that's what yer after and however you translate it~~usually bodes well, as long as a band can stay together long enough to develop. i'm not sure if that makes REM some kinda prototype for alt bands to follow as much as it is an example of a good band period, in my mind, whatever the era.

it's funny... i spent most of the 80s on a college campus, not out in the sticks. by the time the decade was ending, i lost track of my old passions (buying records, going to concerts). i was just too busy and too broke. first child born in 88, second in 90. moves and jobs and chaotic crap for some years following. i lost most of my bands, at least for awhile there. but i still found a way to buy (and luvv) green, out of time, automatic for the people and monster.

took me a while longer to realize that the principle of kudzu is universal. (she looks down at her feet, just to check...)

favorite album: still this one.




favorite song: guess i'll go with the first one to fall into my brain. the list, however, is long.




p.s. wait... there's another college-era band to stay with me over the long haul, even though my brother didn't bring em home. that would be U2.

... sumthin tells me i am pretty far afield from anything resembling a standard BCB 'consensus' with this stuff. naturally, the remorse i feel is overwhelming.

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'skope
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby 'skope » 26 Sep 2014, 17:03

kath wrote:sumthin tells me i am pretty far afield from anything resembling a standard BCB 'consensus' with this stuff.


Image

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der nister
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby der nister » 26 Sep 2014, 17:11

Good stuff Kath
Don't mind Skope
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It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby Your Friendly Neighbourhood Postman » 26 Sep 2014, 17:13

At their best, they were magic and mystical, and here's proof:





On the whole, I'd rather be in Wallenpaupack.

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'skope
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby 'skope » 26 Sep 2014, 17:13

Sea Of Tunes v2.0 wrote:At their best, they were magic and mystical


judas!

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby Your Friendly Neighbourhood Postman » 26 Sep 2014, 17:15

For your convenience, a personal favourite:

On the whole, I'd rather be in Wallenpaupack.

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kath
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby kath » 26 Sep 2014, 17:15

'skope wrote:
kath wrote:sumthin tells me i am pretty far afield from anything resembling a standard BCB 'consensus' with this stuff.


Image




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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby Your Friendly Neighbourhood Postman » 26 Sep 2014, 17:16

'skope wrote:
Sea Of Tunes v2.0 wrote:At their best, they were magic and mystical


judas!


You must be mixing me up with someone else whom I vaguely know.

I am Jesus.
On the whole, I'd rather be in Wallenpaupack.

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'skope
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby 'skope » 26 Sep 2014, 17:16

Sea Of Tunes v2.0 wrote:For your convenience, a personal favourite:



get out of the library, frank, BCB is ready to lock up.

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby Matt Wilson » 26 Sep 2014, 17:18

The first four and Automatic for the People are still my favorites.
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby der nister » 26 Sep 2014, 17:18

REM are kinda the Emeril's Lagasses of the pop world
So huge for so long, now they can't Get any respect
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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'skope
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby 'skope » 26 Sep 2014, 17:23

zphage wrote:REM are kinda the Emeril's Lagasses of the pop world
So huge for so long, now they can't Get any respect


are you 'good or bad' wilson?

i need to BCB scrutinise.

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby SWIMMING POOL HARRINGTON » 26 Sep 2014, 17:57

I've started to think - again - that they were pretty damned good in places. That's the stuff that isn't about anything, mostly, and it's stretched over 20-odd years. I don't think you get the usual rise-and-fall thing with them - the good and the bad is littered across their whole career.

I think these men should be held accountable for 'Stand', 'World Leader Pretend', 'Fall On Me', and several others. Lyrically these things are absolutely fucking inexcusable. To put out a SINGLE with the title 'Mine Smell Like Honey' is criminal. 'Drive' - the lead-off single from their supposed 'classic album' - is a lot of huffing and puffing and the shit stays in. It's so musically torpid you wonder how anyone physically managed to finish the job. 'Losing My Religion' and 'Everybody Hurts' are on constant rotation in hell. Those songs are as bad as Chris De Burgh. They really are cut from the same kind of cloth. If you don't believe me, give them a listen.

BUT you've got the Hib-tone 'Radio Free Europe', and 'Wolves, Lower' - both really bright, lovely little songs. '(Don't Go Back To) Rockville' might be their best - it's genuinely moving. 'What's The Frequency Kenneth?' is great fun. 'Electrolite' is beautiful. I've got a soft spot for some of the later singles, too - 'Discoverer' is fucking A. For me, all of these are up there with the Smiths. But they weren't the Smiths 'cos they lacked the humour and the style. You could never trust them.
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby Polishgirl » 26 Sep 2014, 18:10

I got into them as a 19 year old student. "Stand" and "Orange Crush" were played at lot at the student Friday night shindig ( by Thom Yorke, our DJ - I know I keep mentioning this, but it's interesting now to think back to what he picked to play).

"Green" is still my favourite album. It hangs together the best, for me.

"Out Of Time"is not so great. "Shiny Happy People" is a crime against humanity, BUT, luckily for them, the album also includes "Near Wild Heaven" which is liable to make even the most hardbitten 45 year old cowbag shed a tear or two.

"Automatic For The People" is pretty good. I know " Nightswimming" is soppy as hell, but it's beautiful and atmospheric. I LOVE "Star Me Kitten" and " Try Not To Breathe" and I skip over "Everybody Hurts" and try to pretend it's not there. "Sidewinder" is joyous nonsense.

But I also really love "Monster". I think I'm one of only 7 people in the world who like it lots. "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" is a cheeky laugh, and I like the rockier edge to the overall album sound. My favourite track on it is "Let Me In" - such a powerful, disordered track.

I saw them live at Twickenham in 2008. It was a hot summer evening, clear sky and planes trailing overhead on their way in and out of Heathrow. They sounded superb, MS was charmingly shambolic in his chats to the crowd and they played their whole range of old and new. "Man On The Moon" was especially touching.
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby Bent Fabric » 26 Sep 2014, 19:35

In support of the BCB 130 series, and sad to see us aleady in the latter half of the alphabet, I say:

You see? This - a piece about a band towards whom I have an active and downright pathological antipathy - is some good fucking shit! It's meaningful writing, it's the sort of thing I wish there were more of, and it's EXACTLY the sort of thing I'm going to come back and read again periodically just for the sheer pleasure of it.

WAS anyone ever, or IS anyone now against this series?

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby PENK » 26 Sep 2014, 19:38

I used to only really like the two big hit albums, but I bored of those; a while ago I heard the IRS best of at a friend's place and was struck by how much I liked it, having never really clicked with it before. Once one gets past a certain greyness in the production and Stipe's stumbling-block vocals, they did have some cracking songs back then. Might have to check the albums out properly.
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby pig bodine » 26 Sep 2014, 19:45

I was the perfect age for them, apparently--Chronic Town came out when I was 18 and they were the ultimate college rock band. By the time I was 22, they shot their wad. Anyway, I saw Chronic Town at a record store and thought the cover was cool. EP's were a good cheap way to hear bands back then--everyone was releasing them in the first half of the 80's Husker Du, Minutemen, Minor Threat, Bad Religion and on and on. It was on IRS which was sort of a sign of quality at the time, so I took a chance. I thought it was pretty terrific in a Soft Boys, dB's sort of way. I think the Feelies were the first "college rock" band, if I'm not mistaken, but REM were the first college rock superstars. As Stipe gained more and more confidence and became more of a front man, they lost what ever they had. Oddly, he got so far up his own ass, I sort of admired it after a while. I remember when I first started to go off them--when Stipe took 10,000 Maniacs under his wing. What a shit band they were! Back to REM-- Radio Song is probably the worst thing I've ever heard, unless it's Everybody Hurts.

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby 'skope » 26 Sep 2014, 19:55

how breathtaking

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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby clive gash » 26 Sep 2014, 19:58



Nothing here 'skope?
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Re: BCB 130 - REM

Postby The Red Nosed Heifer » 27 Sep 2014, 03:35

My first REM album was New Adventures In Hi-Fi so I often approach this topic a bit differently from the BCB way. I do like the IRS stuff but it will never mean as much to be as the Warners stuff, they were a BIG band but they were still interesting. From Automatic til Up is my central area. I fell off around Reveal (All the Way To Reno is a sticky abortion set to music, i can't believe John didn't reference it in his list of charges), but climbed back on for the last 2, which while not as good as they could've been, were certainly a lot better than the two that preceeded it.

My wife doesn't like REM, maybe I should send her a link to here :lol:
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