Today is the release day for R.E.M.’s final album Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011, so there is no better time to write an open letter to the band of thanks for 31 years of amazing tunes. This will be DDR’s last R.E.M. post, as they have gone out with as much dignity as a band can, on their terms. We will do the same.
I discovered R.E.M. in 1987. I know, late for die hards, but I was 9 years old and didn’t know shit about anything. I did know, however, when I heard the first notes of “Finest Worksong” come blaring out of the speakers, that I was listening to something special. I didn’t realize, of course, that R.E.M. would play such an important role in my life at that time. Everyone has stories about their favorite bands and songs, and it’s always nice to hear that music is important to so many people. It was another whole level for me. I started playing the guitar around this time, and this played a part in what I listened to and still listen to for years to come. But R.E.M. was different. There was a connection there that I did not have with other bands, not even with The Beatles. When I listened to Document and Life’s Rich Pageant (the first two albums I REALLY listened to) it was like the songs were for me and to me. It was a strange experience. I can remember all the way back to 1991′s Out of Time going for the Midnight Sale’s to be t he first to get the album. No matter where i have been, College, Work, another part of the world, I have always made it there to be the first to get the albums. I have seen R.E.M. 8 times, the last in 2008 on the Accelerate tour. Every show has been memorable in its own way. One of the best things about R.E.M. has always been the Fan Club. As a member since 1992, I get my quarterly newsletters and eagerly await each year for my Christmas package to be delivered. Also, Every show i have been in the first 5 rows, as R.E.M. always puts aside those seats for Fan Club Members. All for $10 a year! They have never changed the price or taken anything away, and they could have at the hight of they stardom in the 90′s. But no, it’s never been about money. That is what sets this band apart. They have always made the music that they felt was right at that time. Have they made mistakes? Yes. But at the end of the day, they stayed true to the vision that they had and never wavered, even under the brightest lights.
So Thank You R.E.M. for 31 years of honest, hard working, just flat out great songs. It’s always been and always will be about the music.
Now to today’s release of Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011. If you only know the “hits”, then this is the album to pick up. This spans their entire career, including the IRS years and is a definite collection of some of their best work. The album includes 3 new songs, completed during the Collapse Into Now Sessions. While good tracks, they are hard to put up against some of the best tracks of the last 30 years. Check out “We All Go Back to Where We Belong” below:
In addition to today’s album release, I thought as a final note I would include as a lifelong student of R.E.M. my favorite albums in order and my top 10 R.E.M. tracks:
DDR’s Top 10 R.E.M. Tracks:
10. “New Test Leper” (from New adventures in Hi Fi)
9. “Uberlin” (from Collapse Into Now)
8. “World Leader Pretend” (from Green)
7. “Cuyahoga” (from Life’s Rich Pageant)
6. “So Central Rain (I’m Sorry) (from Reckoning)
5. “Welcome to the Occupation” (from Document)
4. “Perfect Circle” (from Murmur)
3. “Gardening at Night” (from Cronic Town EP)
2. “Find the River” (from Automatic for the People)
1. “Country Feedback” (from Out of Time)
DDR’s favorite R.E.M. Studio Albums:
15. Around the Sun (2004) – Their weakest album, still check out “Accent of Man” and “Leaving New York”.
14. Reveal (2001) -A few strong tracks including “Imitation of Life” and “The Lifting”
13. Up (1998) – Underrated album, even by me. Still love “At My Most Beautiful” and “Sad Professor”
12. Green (1988) – Their major label debut. Not my favorite, but “World Leader Pretend” and “I Remember California” are classics.
11. Accelerate (2008) -2008 Rebirth. Basically wanted to show that they can still kick your ass with tunes. Check out “Living Well’s the Best Revenge” and “Horse to Water” to see what I mean.
10. Collapse Into Now (2011) -Their Swan Song. A greatest hits package that are actually new songs. Check out “Uberlin” and “Walk it Back”
9. Out of Time (1991) -The super stardom album. We all own it, and we all know “Losing my Religion” and “Shiny Happy People”. But check out two of their absolute best tracks “Country Feedback” and “Me In Honey”
8. Monster (1994) -A Monster indeed. Launched their 2 year tour which effectively ended drummer Bil Berry’s time in the band. Classic tracks “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?” and “Bang and Blame” are here, but also check out the ode to Kurt Cobain “Let Me In”
7. New Adventures in Hi Fi (1996) -Another incredibility underrated album. Has three of my absolute favorites “E Bow The Letter”, “New Test Leper” and “Be Mine”
6. Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) – A dark difficult album that has grown on me big time over the years. Like nothing they had done up to that point. Check out “Feeling Gravity’s Pull” and “Life and how to Live It”
5. Document (1987) -Their first real commercial success and the end of the amazing IRS run. We all know the hits here “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” but also check out “Welcome to the Occupation” and “Finest Worksong”.
4. Life’s Rich Pageant (1986)-Their first “big” album. Really the first glance of what they could be. “Cuyahoga” and “Fall On Me” are must owns.
3. Reckoning (1984) -Their second album continuing on the success of Murmur but just different enough to be special. Classic Tracks “So. Central Rain” and “Pretty Persuasion” are here.
2. Murmur (1983) -Their Debut, and in DDR’s opinion, the greatest debut album ever. If they stopped here they would have been remembered forever. Check out “9-9″ and “Perfect Circle”
1. Automatic for the People (1992) – The benchmark of everything great. Future bands have studied and copied Automatic but to no avail. This is the best in the R.E.M. catalog and perhaps the best album of the 90′s. 12 perfect songs, but check out “Find the River” and “Try Not to Breathe”