Thirty one years and 15 albums later, R.E.M. have called it quits.
The decision comes as a bit of a shock. Though the releases over the last few years have failed to live up to the band’s previous success, the (now) trio from Athens, Georgia have continued to forge ahead, growing and re-shaping their sound, delivering variations of R.E.M, each slightly different than the last. The changing sound hasn’t been easy but fans have continued to listen to the band that was part of the 1st wave of alternative sound.
My introduction to R.E.M. came via radio and, appropriately enough, the single “Radio Free Europe.” I loved the song so much I went out to the now collapsed Sam the Record Man and came home with tapes of a few early albums. I was in love and the romance lasted for a decade.
When “Monster” came out, I stopped being the hardcore fan. I wasn’t really digging the new sound and by that point in my teen years, I’d moved onto NIN and the industrial scene but over the few years, I have continued to came back to the band that kept going without me. That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about R.E.M.: when I come back, there’s always new material. They’re the reliable band that’s always there with something new for me to discover except that now, there will be no new discoveries.
That doesn’t mean it’s over. Over the last three decades, R.E.M. has released a number of perfect albums. CDs (or digital albums as the case is now) that I can put in and listen to on re-peat for hours at a time. For me, R.E.M. was at its peak with the back-to-back releases of “Green,” “Out of Time,” and “Automatic for the People” but every time I listen to a new album (or an old one) I re-discover a song. This much greatness makes it difficult to dwindle down a list of songs but after a week of revisiting their extensive discography, I have picked my list of 10 favourite songs. They’re not all popular singes and as much as I love “Losing My Religion” or “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” I’ve left these off my list in exchange for some less popular singles.
There will be one final release: a compilation album titled “Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011” is scheduled for release in November. The album will be the first to collect songs from R.E.M.’s I.R.S. and Warner Bros. tenures, as well as three songs from the group’s final studio recordings post “Collapse into Now.”
My favourites are below; be sure to share yours.
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