Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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27 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Oh yeah great band. One of the best of the 80’s and all time great. I was a huge fan in the 80’s through the mid 90’s. They put on a great live show every time i saw them. Can’t say what i heard of their last few albums did much for me. But i agree their first 5 or maybe only 4 were classic.Report

    • Glyph in reply to greginak says:

      They really lost me with Monster, and I never really explored the albums after that; there was just too much else out there. If anyone has any recommendations from the last six, LMK in comments.

      But even the first three Warner records had the martial (and for some reason, U2-ish to me) “Orange Crush”:

      And the great Kate Pierson drone-duet “Me In Honey”:

      And the stately “Sweetness Follows”:


      • Stillwater in reply to Glyph says:

        Automatic for the People is hands down my favorite REM album. It’s like, a perfect album. A moody one, but solid all the way thru. Oh, and Eponymous. 🙂 The others hit me as a bit messy or something, even tho there were plenty of great songs on em.

        Maybe they’ve faded a bit recently cuz they’re most famous songs are really poppy, which may tinge the memories.Report

  2. Glyph says:

    Whoops, the holiday threw me. Thought I had more time to polish this one before it went up. Apologies for any grammar or spelling errors.Report

  3. aaron david says:

    Yeaaahhhhh…. no.

    I saw them on the Green tour, and they are one of two bands (the other being Rush) that showed me definitively that rock could be boring. And forgettable.Report

    • Glyph in reply to aaron david says:

      Good golly Miss Molly….that’s a…bold stance, Mr. David.Report

    • krogerfoot in reply to aaron david says:

      I’m with Mr. David up there. I’m looking forward to the concert (a sentence I only use these days to mean “watching the video of”) if just to see if I can remember what I ever liked about REM. Their later records remind me, strangely, of Van Halen, with song after song of material that is both instantly recognizable and instantly forgettable. Like U2’s last record, come to think of it. Oh well.Report

      • Glyph in reply to krogerfoot says:

        Dang, you guys are harsh. Even if you cut them off at Monster, like I did, that’s still a solid 8-album/10-year run, and those old records still play. What more would they have to do? They were good enough for Bob Pollard!


        • krogerfoot in reply to Glyph says:

          I’m glad REM happened and all, and I could spend the next couple of days rattling off several thousand bands that weren’t as good—actually, that would be more enjoyable than anything else I have lined up in the near future—but watching/listening to this, I’m remembering playing you fellas that PJ Harvey song that was such a revelation to me 20 years ago, and thinking, gee, I never realized how self-serious and tedious this was.

          Not that the REM show was tedious, but I’d just never considered them a particularly formidable live act. They seem pretty stiff and arch onstage.

          “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” is a lovely song though, isn’t it.Report

          • aaron david in reply to krogerfoot says:

            Out of curiosity, which Peej song?Report

            • krogerfoot in reply to aaron david says:

              “Goodnight,” from her 4-track demos record. I had a bootleg live disc of a performance—so austere and haunted. I googled up a video to play for everyone and, dude. The magic was just not there. Still, great song, great artist. It was listed as “Goodnight Irene” on my bootleg.Report

              • Glyph in reply to krogerfoot says:

                “The magic was just not there”

                I must admit, as someone who never liked Sebadoh despite liking a lot of the scene they were associated with, I derived a lot of perverse pleasure the other day when a couple former fans were saying, “man, this just does NOT hold up for me”.

                I was all like, “See! I was right all along!”

                The takeaway: the flipside of my artist loyalty is that I can be a stubborn, vindictive, self-satisfied jerk!

                I’ll wait years to snark! YEARS!!!Report

              • krogerfoot in reply to Glyph says:

                It’s worth it.Report

              • aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

                The best snark is oft years in the making.Report

    • Chris in reply to aaron david says:

      I never liked them, but that’s likely because I came to them too late, when they were perhaps victims of their own success and I found Stipe insufferable. Everybody hurts? I know I do every time I hear you talking on MTV (circa 1995).

      I did like Spain on the Road Again, though.

      I gather that, had I been a few years older and therefore come to them through their 80s stuff rather than their 90s stuff, I would have a different view of them, as almost everyone I know who’s 5-10 years older than I loves them.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I admit to finding “everybody hurts” to be an unlistenable song. That said, remove that one, and Automatic For The People is one hell of an album, start to finish.Report

        • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yeah, I just came to it too late. This is one of the cases when I fully realize that (that may also be the case with The Cure, but I just hate them, period).Report

        • Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

          I sort of admire “Everybody Hurts” as a concept, and I can attest that for many people it hit its target and really helped them through tough times.

          I don’t care for it myself though; and in fact for all the love Automatic gets, I was already seeing the writing on the wall there. I see I only bothered to rip three songs from it to my computer: “Sweetness Follows” (which is really just a much better version of “Everybody Hurts”), “Man on the Moon”, and “Nightswimming”.

          But man…up until then. Just an embarrassment of riches. And maybe only second to CCR in terms of road trip music.

          You know, this makes me think of another topic. I tend to be pretty loyal to the bands I get really into; even when they inevitably fall off or derail, I don’t retroactively go back and drop their old work also. No matter what nonsense Billy Corgan might get up to today, he still made Siamese Dream (and Gish, and Pisces Iscariot), and I will stick up for him for that, if nothing else.

          Sure, the Stones may be hollow and decrepit now, but they made Sticky Fingers! They can coast forever, in my book!

          To take @aaron-david ‘s side comment above, I haven’t been motivated to buy a Rush album in years, but a half-dozen or so of their “classics” have survived every purge I’ve done, because those records are still good records.

          I haven’t been crazy about anything U2’s done in a long, long time, but up through Zooropa, they were fantastic, and like I said, all those old records still play.

          About the only band where I was once a big fan but now say, “yeah, I USED to be into those guys….” is Radiohead. Even the first two albums, which I used to LOVE, I am starting to have a hard time with…that voice.

          When you guys give up on an artist for either artistic reasons (the work starts to slide in your opinion) or extra-artistic reasons (the artist’s public persona or actions become grating or embarrassing), is their old stuff retroactively ruined for you?

          Or do you cordon that stuff off mentally, so that it can stay untainted?Report

          • aaron david in reply to Glyph says:

            I’m a gonna clarify a bit on REM and Rush. It isn’t that they don’t have fine material (they do, and quite a lot of it) its mainly that I have seen both live (Green tour and Power Windows,) and they were just boring to see. Part of that was the fans, who damn near pulled prayer rugs for the shows, and the other part was they didn’t seem to get that live means just that. This is a one time shot, don’t just take it off the album with the limitations of live playing. Make it something from the limitations.Report

          • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

            You know, I loved Smashing Pumpkins, but I gave up on them for years because I saw them live twice before Melon Collie and the Infinite Badness, and they were awful (though I gather there were internal reasons for that), and then the Collie came out, and I just couldn’t stand them anymore. It was years, and years, before I could listen to them again (and even longer before I could admit that “1979” is a good song), but now I’m back to listening to them frequently.

            I wonder if I could go back to Badmotorfinger (I thought about this when you mentioned it the other day) now that time has passed. It was lost to me after how much I disliked their later stuff, and worse, Audio Slave.Report

          • krogerfoot in reply to Glyph says:

            This is my own idiosyncratic take on things, and let me preface it by saying that I’m not referring to anyone* commenting here.

            I absolutely do not take it personally when artists I love stop making music I love. Keeping me happy is not their job. It annoys the crap out of me when people say “why can’t they go back to what they were doing before?” It doesn’t annoy me because artists hafta grow and push boundaries, yada yada, but because making great music, great art, even pretty good art, is hard. People who can crank out record after record of great music are freaks. For most of everyone else, if they were fortunate enough to be able to drop what they were doing and concentrate on getting shit on tape while that hurricane of inspiration is blowing through their atmosphere, that’s their gift to the rest of us, and more than they owe anyone. Once it blows out, you can’t begrudge them whatever they move on to. I don’t have to keep buying their records or seeing their shows, and if I run into them in a bar, I’ll buy them a drink and/or do them the favor of leaving them alone.

            I don’t know what the deal is with me and REM. I remember really liking them, but I cannot remember what it was I liked. I don’t remember a lot of stuff, though.

            * I mean, I’m not pushing back at anything specific anyone’s said here. I’ll buy any records any of you folks put out.Report

            • aaron david in reply to krogerfoot says:

              It’s what I call the Elvis Costello problem. His first 4-5 albums are some of the best recorded music of all time. After that, not so much in my eyes. But he is doing what he wants, and that is cool.Report

  4. Will H. says:

    “Shiny Happy People” is really the only one that ended up having staying power for me.

    I never was really into them, but I had this goth bass player one time (way long before goth was in) that was into them and Bauhaus. This was right around the time Peter Murphy came out with the solo cd.
    We ended up doing a cover of “Ziggy Stardust,” Bauhaus-style.Report

  5. Vikram Bath says:

    I only know them from the radio, but from that I felt like every one of their songs sounded the same.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      I’m just surprised that you have heard them at all!

      (My own ability to filter out pop culture that doesn’t intrigue me is legendary. I think I STILL haven’t heard “I’m On A Boat”. And I intend to keep it that way!)Report