Michael Stipe -vocals
Peter Buck -guitars
Mike Mills -bass
Bill Berry -drums
The immediate appeal of R.E.M., aka Rapid Eye Movement, is among the catchy melodies, the unique vocals, and the overall craftsmanship of consistently well-written material. The band reaches to a gentle but aggressive, simple but complex, nonsensical but political part of the listeners psyche, which often masks the most “in your face" music in pop cellophane. Although there is a comical, often self criticizing, side of the band, intense tracks like “Everybody Hurts" (Automatic for the People) and “The One I Love" (Document) find the band in their most open and musically creative state. Few bands can claim to have had as much of an impact on alternative/rock music as R.E.M.. Rising from underground college radio to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world, there may not have been a path for bands like Nirvana or Pearl Jam had R.E.M. failed to write good music.
Document, R.E.M.’s fifth full-length album, can be credited as the album that assured mainstream success for the band. Every song is great, from hits like “The One I Love", “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", and “Finest Worksong", to the continually addictive tracks like “Fireplace". Considered as one of R.E.M.’s most politically charged moments, Document is a must-have for anyone looking to find the cream of the crop in terms of 80's and 90's rock. The exposure from Document led to a major label signing of the group, which hailed the next three R.E.M. albums as classics. Green, containing such landmarks as “Orange Crush", “Stand", and “Pop Song 89", Out Of Time, containing the hugely popular and essential R.E.M. track “Losing My Religion", and the haunting and eclectic masterpiece Automatic For The People are staples in their catalogue. R.E.M. still makes great albums, and have no intention of stopping at any time soon, proving their timeless and uncompromising musical career.
Combining the straight-out energy of “Finest Worksong", the socially conscience lyrics of “Welcome To The Occupation", the surf driven guitar of “Exhuming McCarthy, the melody carried “Disturbance At The Heron House", an excellent cover of Wire’s “Strange", and the mush-mouth silliness of “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)", the first half of R.E.M.’s Document paints a perfect picture of the raw and often surprising side of the band, which turned to the very calm and gentle past 10 years or so of their career. R.E.M. goes to a very dark place, however, with “The One I Love", a song that radiates with emotional vocals that accompany lyrics of a sour relationship, to the broody “Fireplace" that expresses discontent with modern times, simply stating “Crazy, crazy world". Following is a track that screams of Red Hot Chili Peppers titled “Lightnin’ Hopkins", and the acoustically driven “King Of Birds", which showcases the bands often pessimistic lyrics such as “Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold". All great albums have a feel that is unique and identifiable, which 1987's Document portrays a very chilling and cryptic sound. Summing up the album, the final track “Oddfellows Local 151" transitions R.E.M. from their early work to the blow-up success that would follow. In closing, Document is excellent from start to finish with not a single filler or weak moment, which definitely gets better with repeated listens. For anyone unsure of where to look to really get a feel for the band, there is no need to look any further.
0.5-Sad, hardly can be considered noise
1-Horrible, better off never recorded
1.5-Mind numbing, less than mediocre
2-Basic, mainstream machine
2.5- Alright, low expectations
3-Good, but has a few flaws
3.5-Well-done, deserves to be acknowledged
4-Excellent, stands well on its own
4.5-Amazing, always a great listen
5-Perfect, life changing work of art
The reviews I write are without plagiarism or bias to any sound or genre, but as a third-person presenting facts and logical comparisons. My personal feelings are not concrete and solidly agreeable, so when they are presented they are isolated and left to be viewed as such. The ratings for each album are not shifted due to what I am currently interested in, but out of a calculated sum ranging from originality, ability of repeated listens due to consistent effort and solid production, poetic lyrical structure, and overall musicianship.