Often, albums like this can be a bit of a drag — a simple cash grab or an easy way to satisfy a contract. That may well have been the purpose of this one, too, but it’s a great collection of songs nonetheless, providing a glimpse into the band’s burgeoning creativity as well as their playful side.
I once ranked Reveal as the 12th best R.E.M. album, which isn’t saying much because they had released only 14 at the time. But I guess that’s enough to make it my #9 album of 2001.
Reveal was the band’s second album without drummer Bill Berry, and while none of the post-Berry records measure up to R.E.M.’s work as a quartet, this one does have several of their best tunes from that era.
Funny how opinions change over time. I’ve written about R.E.M.’s Out of Time a few times before but never in a very positive light. In posts eight and nine years ago I described it as one of the band’s weakest efforts.
Yet here I am in 2019, naming it as my #1 album of 1991. And it wasn’t even a tough decision.
This collection of B-sides, outtakes and loose ends was released between 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant and 1987’s Document, which made an appearance on Random Weekends exactly one week ago.
‘Finest Worksong’ is the lead-off track on R.E.M.’s fifth studio album, 1987’s Document. It was the third single released, following the hits ‘The One I Love’ and ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).’
The band released an album per year from 1983 through 1988, including the holy trinity of Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction and Life’s Rich Pageant. This record followed those career-defining releases and was a bit of a departure both sonically and thematically.
‘Electron Blue’ is lead singer Michael Stipe’s favorite track from this album, and one of his favorite R.E.M. songs, period. I like it well enough, and agree that it’s a highlight of an otherwise unforgettable album, but I’m sorry, this doesn’t stand up to the best of R.E.M., not even close.
R.E.M. appeared on MTV’s Unplugged twice, a decade apart, in 1991 and 2001. The band was arguably a bigger deal on the earlier performance, which followed the release of the multi-platinum Out of Time and hit single ‘Losing My Religion.’
They would go on the achieve massive success through the mid-90s but by the new millennium things had changed. Drummer Bill Berry left the band and their most recent releases sold less than anything they’d recorded since joining a major label.