Our Final Words On REM's Break-Up And The Fact That They Have A New Album Coming Out!

Since it was announced last week, I resisted the idea to post something immediately about REM's decision to call it a day after 30 years and 15 studio albums. For those of us there from the beginning (or pretty darn close to it), saying goodbye to a beloved band that overstayed their welcome by about 14 years is bittersweet.

While Michael Stipe claimed in their final press release that the art of going to a party was knowing when to leave, the simple truth is that REM apparently never got that memo. See, back when Bill Berry was still in the band, they always promised that if one of them left, they'd call it day. They also said that they'd made a pact to break-up in the year 2000, no matter what.

Needless to say, when Bill Berry left and they didn't immediately disband, this REM fan felt a tad betrayed. And when the year 2000 came and they continued right on making music as if it hadn't, I became fully convinced that the REM I once knew and loved was gone.

In its place was a trio of guys unwilling to keep their word, to give up their place on the musical landscape for someone else with the youthful vigor and disregard for the old guard that they'd once had.

It's sad to see a band once so young and vibrant become "the old guard", but it inevitably happens to everyone, even REM. There is no stopping the passing of time. REM, of course, were well aware of this, going so far as to name their most successful album "Out Of Time", as if to confirm thay even they could feel the clock winding down. Of course, another way of taking such a title was that, regardless of whatever may have been hip at the time, REM were never a part of it.

True, there music was (and is) out of time in a way that the music of all great bands should always be. When you listen to a Beatles song, for example, you are not taken back to 1964, as that is a time that pre-dates many of us. Thus, when listening to REM, one is able to make their own chronological associations. Their songs float in the hemisphere, waiting to be pulled down by anxious ears, like apples from a tree.

Most of my memories of REM are pleasant ones: seeing them for the first time in a pizza restaurant with maybe 75 other people, giddy fans helping the staff pull the tables aside; seeing them two years later in a sold-out arena, no longer the best-kept secret in rock & roll. Once they made "Monster", an album that seemed to want so badly to fit in with the rest of the alt. rock gold rush ushered in by Nirvana's seismic rearranging of the deck chairs on the mainstream music scene. REM had never felt the need to do such a thing before and seeing them do it now was like watching your own sister turn her first trick.

Some have suggested that the band should have called it quits the moment you could understand what Stipe was singing. In hindsight, it's hard to argue with such reasoning, but I still contend that REM should have called it a day after "Monster" revealed them to be more follower than leader.

Instead, they made six more albums, all of them pleasantly listenable, none of them the least bit essential. The party ended in 1996, but REM refused to go home for another fifteen years.

Did we mention there's a new REM album coming out? Well, a new compilation, that is (can anyone say "money grab?" I knew you could). The new collection is called "PART LIES, PART HEART, PART TRUTH, PART GARBAGE, 1982 - 2011" and is due out on Warner Brothers on November 15th. The album contains three new tracks.

The track-listing is as follows:

Disc 1:
Gardening At Night
Radio Free Europe
Talk About The Passion
Sitting Still
So. Central Rain
(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville
Driver 8
Life And How To Live It
Begin The Begin
Fall On Me
Finest Worksong
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
The One I Love
Pop Song 89
Get Up
Orange Crush
Losing My Religion
Country Feedback
Shiny Happy People

Disc 2:
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
Everybody Hurts
Man On The Moon
What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?
New Test Leper
At My Most Beautiful
The Great Beyond
Imitation Of Life
Bad Day
Leaving New York
Living Well Is The Best Revenge
Supernatural Superserious
Oh My Heart
A Month of Saturdays
We All Go Back To Where We Belong

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

1 comment:

  1. This post is the same rehashed BS that so many supposed "music people" have written recently. The idea that they should have broken up earlier, despite the fact that they still enjoyed creating music together is absurd (also the 2000 break up thing was a tongue and cheek comment by Bill Berry and not an actual plan). Fine you don't like the post NAIHF records. I think they put out 3 amazing records in UP, Reveal (one of their absolute bests) and Collapse into Now, also the 2 other albums Around the Sun and Accelerate both have at least 5 or6 terrific songs on them. This concept of the meaningless "legacy" is something that only bitter music nerds, who cannot write songs care about. It's sad that your legacy is petulance and foolishness.