My first REM album. I bought it whilst living in Liverpool on the back of hearing ‘The One I Love’. I loved everything about the song, the melody, the guitars (always the main attractor for me) and surprisingly, the voice. I’d seen REM a couple of years prior to the release of Document on ‘The Tube’ (Reckoning period), loved the music but hated the singer’s voice! Listening to Reckoning now I still try to work out what it was about Michael Stipe’s voice that I didn’t like, perhaps it was just a bad performance but to me he sounded like an Alabama Smurf!
As per usual, the purchase of this album lead to the purchase of the complete back catalogue. Listening to the albums you can really hear the bands development and trace the direction they were taking. These can be grouped into 3 phases;
1. Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning – Jangly arpeggio guitar. Songs like South Central Rain, (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville, Radio Free Europe
2. Fables Of The Reconstruction – Cross over between 1 and 3 – Heavier guitar sound introduces itself with Feeling Gravity’s Pull.
3. Life’s Rich Pageant, Document – harder guitar, edgier sound – Finest Worksong, Begin The Begin, Oddfellows Local 151.
Choosing between Document and Life’s Rich Pageant was difficult as both albums are brilliant but Document just scrapes it for me with songs like Exhuming McCarthy and Welcome To The Occupation, very tight!
In my opinion ‘Green’ was the last great REM album. They went downhill in my eyes after that. Even ‘Automatic For The People’ didn’t do it for me. It was not until 2008’s ‘Accelerate’ that REM caught my attention again. Let’s hope they have learnt their lesson! ;0)
The One I Love
The Finest Worksong