R.E.M. are, in my humble opinion, the greatest band ever to grace planet Earth and in light of their recent split and my emotional purchase of their last ever full studio album ‘Collapse into Now’ I’ve decided to dedicate a cheeky blog post to them. Let’s kick off with a Worther’s Original style flash back to how I first discovered that R.E.M. are indeed the best band in the world.
Aged sixteen I was hanging around outside college one sunny afternoon when I noticed that one of my fellow students had a brand spanking new Sony Walkman with type two tape heads! I was actually thinking of purchasing myself one of these bad boys so I asked if I could have a listen to it. I popped the earphones into my ears and heard what at the time I thought was possibly the best song ever. I asked what it was and discovered it was Undertow by R.E.M. from their recently released ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’. I got very excited as all I’d previously known of this band was the radio fodder such as Everybody Hurts and Losing My Religion but this sounded completely different with it's pulsing bass line and edgy vocals.
Turns out the guy that owned that Walkman was a massive R.E.M. fan and due to my newly found enthusiasm of his favourite band he was kind enough to make me a mix tape. I then went about building up my own little collection, starting out with ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’ and then slowly started making my way thru the IRS years and into their Warner Bros output. I now own all their albums and have even seen them live a few times, purchased T-Shirts, box sets, learnt how to play Buck's various riffs and I am for all intents and purposes a proper fan.
So there you have it, my moronic ramblings of how I discovered my favourite band in a nutshell. I’m actually not sure how to articulate why I like this band as much as I do. I could ramble on about how their sound has evolved over the years, Stipe’s enigmatic lyrics, Buck’s infectious, jangly guitar riffs but in my opinion you simply hear a song and you’re either into it or your not. I heard Undertow and I was into it. If you’re thinking of following in my footsteps I’d highly recommend checking out ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’ and ‘Reckoning’ these are my two favourite R.E.M. albums and do a great job of representing two very distinct eras of their career. Here's one of their early live performances of 'South Central Rain', which features on Reckoning.