Friday, July 07, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 19:-R.E.M - Out of Time




Album - Out of Time
Artist - R.E.M.
Key Players - Michael Stipe - vocals, Bill Berry - drums, Mike Mills -bass, organ, piano etc., Peter Buck - guitar and mandolin
Produced By - Scott Litt and R.E.M.


Released - March 12, 1991

Overview - This is R.E.M's 7th album and their second major label release. R.E.M. who had formed in 1980 in Athens Georgia had grown in popularity with each release. Pretty much from 1982 to 1988 they released an album a year. Starting with the Document (Its the end of the world as we know it) thru Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People the band just grew and grew. Looking back this record can be seen by many diehards as somewhat of a bummer (meaning overly commercial) since songs like Shiny Happy People and Losing My Religion had massive radio airplay. That didn't matter to the band much as this was their highest selling record to this point. Over the last few years and with the loss of long time drummer Bill Berry the band has not held such an aura over itself here in the US that it once did. The recent records seem to be more dark and introverted vs. the "happier/fun loving" times of R.E.M.

FDF Comments (aka the Songs). Opening with the catchy Radio Song featuring rapper KRS-1 starts off a slight diss on radio (both then and now) with the line "Hey..can't find nothing on the radio". An R.E.M classic follows in Losing My Religion. It helped win the band legions of new fans, as well as a grammy, and it probably sold its fair share of mandolins. The title refers to a saying common in the American South and means to be at the end of your tether. Also, it has no chorus. Peter Buck said regarding the use on this record/song that he had pretty much mastered the guitar but had yet to tackle something so new as the mandolin. From the dark of "Low" to the Mike Mills sung Near Wild Heaven the band shows both sides of coin this record. While Low has a slow melancholy organ Near Wild Heaven has some of the jangle pop guitar that R.E.M fans had latched on to in the first place. Its an interesting flow as they go a little dark and mellow again in the Endgame and then..then it happens. Love it or hate it Shiny Happy People is a very catchy song. The band did seem to have some backlash over the candy coated song and has actually only performed the song live one time, on an episode of Saturday Night Live. Belong is one of those great stand out tracks on the record in this writers opinion. A spoken word vocal track with a lot of "ohhhs and ahhs" add to its wonderfully haunting song. You can't sing along until the chorus really, but it was always a song that was never ever skipped. The high harmonies from Mike Mills are to die for. Half a World Away has gruff intro but the final payoff is a wonderful song. "Texarkana" is the second song on the record in which Mike Mills sang lead. It had a little bit of commercial radio success. As a bass player I dig the intro riff. "Country Feedback" is one of the most requested songs for the band to do live. On the last tour the band solicited fans to "request" songs for the tour. Feedback was #1. The album wraps up with the most hidden of hidden gems in my eyes. The Stipe/Kate Pierson (B-52's) sing along "Me In Honey". Pierson was also the female voice on Shiny Happy People. Stipe shreds his vocals on the chorus' to keep up with Pierson. If this song ever comes on I try my best to sing the Stipe lead..and it works for a bit but he really really shines.


Where are they Now? - R.E.M are still making records. The US Fan base has seemed to wain in the last few years but the band, when they tour, will still play, and sell out 15,000 seat venues. Bill Berry retired from the band citing exhaustion, but has played a song here and there with the band the last few years.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live Experience) - Make it a half dozen for me personally. I have seen R.E.M live 6 times. The earliest was April 9, 1989. In 1989 I was able to see the band three times. There was a huge gap in shows as the next was not until 1995. The biggest reason was the band did not tour for Out of Time, or the follow up "Automatic for the People". The last time I saw them was October 5, 2003. I had a chance to see them more recently but the night of the show, at the last minute I lost the desire to drive some 100 miles to see them. The band puts on a fantastic live show and even the most casual of fans will be sure to hear 2-3 songs they have heard before. A strong selling point to a live R.E.M show is they don't often to live cover songs, so you are getting a 25 song set of R.E.M. material.




FDF Overall take - Out of Time is one of the most accessible releases by the band. Long time fans were turned off by Shiny Happy People but it was really the record that launched them internationally. If you have no R.E.M. this is a terrific place to start.


-march

4 Comments:

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Road to the Isles said...

I know you're thinking "great it's only Road commenting". But shut your pie hole...

Great review/great choice. You are correct - this album is definitely a great place for someone to start.

This is one of my all time favorite albums. This album (on cassette on my sony walkman) accompanied me with cross country that spring...the songs went along well with the landscape including the pop song Shiny Happy People.

They are still one of the best bands live ever.

 
At 7:23 PM, Blogger Annoyed said...

I like this album...

However, I have been drawn to "Automatic for the People" instead.

I still think that is their best album.


I saw them live twice... Once on the "Monster" tour when they were very good and then again on the Vote For Change tour when they weren't so good. Played 90% new stuff that no one really knew at the time and were quite boring imo.

The high;ight being "Man on the Moon" when Sringsteen came out and did a duet with Stipe. That was pretty kick ass!

 
At 2:40 PM, Blogger pog mo thoin said...

I saw them when they opened for the Police. The Police! That is ancient history and the only song getting airplay was "Radio Free Europe". What a great song that was. Then I saw them again for "Life's Rich Pageant" tour (1985) Then I no longer liked them. I became an unfan. They could have been like U2 for me, who I have been seeing on every tour since I was 13 but it didn't happen. I don't know why - they lost me - it may have been down to Stipe, not sure.

In the late '90s they did a song called "Day Sleeper". I loved that song.

 
At 6:47 AM, Blogger Hotwire said...

although not a big REM fan, i do own and enjoy this one. however, being a big music video fan (remember when they used to show them on MTV...?). i have to say the the vid for 'losing my religion' is one of the all time best.

 

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