Monday, September 26, 2005


Today I wondered how wild it would have been had REM released "Murmur," vanished, and then come back all those years later to release "Automatic for the People." The former sounds more alive than ever, the lovely latter more beautiful and unique. I recommend the DVD-A version, since it's music that works best when it envelopes you. So risky a release in retrospect, but amazing that it connected so huge. Can anyone even imagine "Everybody Hurts" a hit on today's top 40 radio?

Another REM alternate reality: had the best acoustic tracks on "Green" been combined with the best tracks on "Out of Time." None of those pale post-'Document" rock songs, but "World Leader Pretend," "Hairshirt" and "You are the Everything." Then add, from "Out of Time," the likes of "Losing My Religion," "Near Wild Heaven," "Half a World Away" and "Country Feedback." And be sure to lose "Radio Song." Forever. I think the result could have been close to "Automatic" in its creative, emotional impact, though of course the band would have lost a few more hits.

Anyway, it's so easy to be cynical about these things, but "Automatic" truly is a special record that may one day yet top "Murmur" as the definitive REM album. And maybe already has.


Blogger Mike said...

After all these years "Automatic" just keeps getting better and better. It's their finest album, without a single weak track on it.

Even their best recent work (i.e. Reveal) pales in comparison...although if we are allowed to arbitrarily chop up REM albums, take the best 5 songs from Reveal along with two or three each from Around the Sun and Up and you would have a damn fine album!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Well, there is weak track: "Ignoreland." And "Reveal" + "Around the Sun" would still be dull, though if "Reveal" were an EP it could be great. Or if they had put the "Imitation of Life" single on the best-of.

Alma and I both like "Up," actually.

9:55 AM  

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