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New Music Review: R.E.M “Out of Time (25th Anniversary Edition)”

R.E.M. Out of Time (Cover)

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REVIEW – R.E.M. in the Eighties were one of the alternative darlings. Fans loved their songs and critics were always putting their albums on the top of the best of lists. It seemed that from “Fables of the Reconstruction” to “ Lifes Rich Pageant” that the band was tinkering with their alternative roots to make commercial singles as well. We saw the birth of “ Fall on Me”, that had fans and critics racing to the checkout to buy the cassette single. We saw the modern college radio boom just take off with bands like R.E.M really starting to take off. “Document” was the signal that R.E,M was changing. You had their top ten single “ The One I Love” turn more mainstream music fans onto them. “ Green” showcased the best of both of their worlds. You had songs like “ Pop Song 89”, “ Orange Crush” and “ Turn You Inside Out”, showcase their roots. Then the balance of songs like “ Stand” which showcased where they wanted to go next. In 1991, the world was introduced to “ Losing My Religion”. This song had a bigger impact on music than “ Smells like Teen Spirit”. You had a song from a band that was so hailed, yet the critics all turned on them and the fans were trying to figure it out. The funny point to the story is everyone was buying the cd. “ Losing My Religion” is that one song that no matter what else can happen in life, you always can remember when you first heard that song. While the success the band had with this album seemed very logical, it just feels that no one was quite ready for how successful both this album and band would become. R.E.M made their 7th album to cater to the radio friendly public, or that is how it would seem listening to it. The band took down its guard and wanted to make a fun album with guest musicians and mixing spoken word with pop radio friendly. This album can be seen as all things for quite frankly all people. You have moments that the hardcore loyal followers can identify with. You also have songs that pop radio would embrace and have new fans jump on. You have an album that makes a statement at a time when the world was confused and music was just as confusing. 25 years later to listen to this album again, feels so timeless.

At the time of this album, every critic from Rolling Stone to Spin, which hailed this band for the years previous all attacked this album with great passion and fury. “ How dare this band sell out”, they would claim. If you are truly an R.E.M, this album is not that big of a departure. People will point and say, “ well Shiny Happy People and Losing My Religion are not R.E,M”. There is no way, you can hear those songs today and not fall in love all over again with them. The same people who damned this album, today hail it as a classic. They have the Anniversary reviews that are so praiseworthy and want to credit the band with this or that. R.E.M wanted to ditch the politics and create a party record. Songs like “ Radio Song” and “ Shiny Happy People” are singalong classics that just make you enjoy music all over again. To use KRS One and Kate Pierson was just genius. We go to disc two now. This is entirely comprised of demos. Most of which are instrumental. There are some very good tracks on here. I love the demo to “ Texarkana” as it reveals something truly unique and different than what the song turned out to be. “ Country Feedback” is another one that I thought was really well done. The demo to me is just as good as the original version. This disc has a ton of positives and some negatives. Some of these demos are good for one listen. I would not want to hear them again. The remaster of this album was very well done. Considering, I have the album and cd of this. I am glad to add this box set to it as well. If you are a R.E.M fan this is a cool little throwback to an era when music was fun and exciting. When you did not know everything in advance and the internet was not hating on things before they actually gave them a fair shot. ( Just alternative radio and magazines were) Think about this in closing. What if R.E.M was around today and they put this album out? I am not sure, if it would have had the same impact it does now. R.E.M are one of those bands that I wish would have stopped experimenting after this record. Albums that followed after like “ Automatic for the People” and “ Monster”, really alienated the fans. It also showcased that the band clearly was making music that they were passionate about, but the fans were left behind.

R.E.M. “Out Of Time” 25th Anniversary Reissue 2-CD Set

R.E.M. "Out of Time"Disc 1
01 “Radio Song”
02 “Losing My Religion”
03 “Low”
04 “Near Wild Heaven”
05 “Endgame”
06 “Shiny Happy People”
07 “Belong”
08 “Half A World Away”
09 “Texarkana”
10 “Country Feedback”
11 “Me In Honey”

Disc 2
01 “Losing My Religion 1″ (demo)
02 “Near Wild Heaven 1″ (demo)
03 “Shiny Happy People 1″ (demo)
04 “Texarkana 1″ (demo)
05 Untitled Demo 2
06 “Radio” – Acoustic (“Radio Song 1″ demo)
07 “Near Wild Heaven 2″ (demo)
08 “Shiny Happy People 2″ (demo)
09 “Slow Sad Rocker” (Endgame demo)
10 “Radio” – Band (“Radio Song 3″ demo)
11 “Losing My Religion 2″ (demo)
12 “Belong” (demo)
13 “Blackbirds” (“Half A World Away” demo)
14 “Texarkana” (demo)
15 “Country Feedback” (demo)
16 “Me On Keyboard” (“Me In Honey” demo)
17 “Low” (demo)
18 “40 Sec.” (“40 Second Song” demo)
19 “Fretless 1″ (demo)

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