Although the American alternative rock giants R.E.M. are no more (having officially called it a day in 2011), they have a 31 year long career of many interesting and amazing high points that are worth looking back at. In the following post we will look at 10 of these high points, the ones that we feel are the band's most defining moments.
Album Number 14 - Accelerate
Many bands find it hard to stay consistently on top of their game during shorter careers than R.E.M.'s, so it is no surprise that during a lot of the 00's the group struggled to find their footing. However, their penultimate studio release proved there was still fire in the belly of these elder statesmen of rock. Accelerate (2008) was a a loud, brash, witty and fiery collection of punk-influenced political and social commentary-charged rock that had showed the band could still surprise and thrill and sound as exciting as they did 25 years earlier..
Bill Berry Leaving The Band
When REM formed they were a four-piece band consisting of Mike Mills on bass, Peter Buck on guitar, Michael Stipe on vocals and Bill Berry on the drums. From their inception until 1997, the same four had recorded and toured together, so it was quite a shock to fans and his band mates when Berry decided enough was enough and he wanted a change of pace in his life. The band decided rather than spending countless hours looking for someone to fill Berry's shoes, they would continue as a three-piece. The interesting thing is that although his leaving did have an impact on the band and their sound, it was rather thrilling to see that the band were still capable of producing great material without one of their key members.
Their Commitment to Political Activism
Although they are obviously known for writing some of the catchiest and anthemic poppy rock songs of the last 30 years, the name R.E.M. is also synonymous with political activism. They were a band with a conscience and did not hold back from writing songs and speaking out about difficult subjects such as sexuality, Burma's human rights issues, gun control in the US, voting apathy in the US and animal rights. Their political thoughts and views were sounded out in some of their most notable tracks such as Until The Day Is Done from Accelerate (covering the topics of war and the US economy), Orange Crush (an angst-ridden and pointed look at the Vietnam War) and Exhuming McCarthy (concerning political oppression in the US).
Automatic for the People
While it is true that Out Of Time was a big record and reached number 1 in the US Billboard chart, it was in no way, shape or form a true masterpiece. The first true masterpiece of R.E.M's career came in a year later when they released the sublime Automatic For The People. It probably remains a career high in recording terms for the group and featured many of the tracks they have become famous for over the year, including of course, Everybody Hurts. However, for real gems of poignant and masterfully written lyrics and sombre sounding productions, listen to Try Not To Breath, Find The River and the beautiful Nightswimming to hear a band in peak form.
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