R.E.M., who released Reckoning, their second album, almost exactly 31 years ago, were a band for 31 years. They began as a quirky group of Athens weirdos beloved by college radio DJs, and became one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and then they decided to stop being a band, which you have to kind of admire. Knowing when to quit is not something most big rock bands tend to be very good at.
Reckoning must have been met with some anticipation here at KCMU. As the sticker on the cover says, their debut album the year before had been celebrated by Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and Record, and had no doubt been spun quite a bit on the air here. There were a lot of fans here, but certainly some detractors, as well as the obligatory folks who thought their even earlier work was better. In fact, one person (Tom?) seems to have so riled people up that their comment has been removed from the record altogether, so we'll never know just what inspired these first couple reactions:
"At last I can stop holding my breath."
"Tom, I think you're mistaken. It was the Teardrop that exploded. R.E.M. went on to record their excellent 2nd album."
"The best American band in America right now! Also, probably the best American band in Europe or Africa. Yay for R.E.M. Better than... 1) Alien Sex Fiend 2 ) X - who? 3 Le Shaggs"
"Isn't it fun to draw arrows..."
"But, Billy Bob, I saw them explode. Blew up real good. (incy, dave, you're right onnio. this is fucking great!!"
"Haven't we learned yet that TW just writes this stuff to get a reaction. He's so immature."
"Best show of my life 6/27 at the Music Hall - R.E.M.!"
"I agree Ray (next to King Crimson)"
"Certainly getting old 3 months later."
"This is arguably one of their best [illegible], even surpasses the seminal Out of Time -12/25/93" [Oooh, a voice from the future!]
"This is fab, gear!"
"You must be nuts!"
"Their best record is still the 'Chronic Town' EP." [Ah, this guy. The 'they only have two albums but the EP they put out before their debut is best' guy. Wouldn't be college radio without him.]
"Bullshit! These guys would have a hard time doing something wrong. How 'bout Martin Rushent producing next Todd?"
"'Time after Time' is so wistful and full of implicit eros - 100% sexier than the sorry attempt at a (star-me) song 10 yrs later (10 years older!!) [Is this a reference to "Star 69," off 1994's Monster? Your guess is as good as mine] - and 2nd Guessing is fun. Actually, all of side 1 is DECENT!!!!"
This week's post is actually, completely by coincidence, somewhat timely! I had somehow missed the news that the English punk/post-punk heroes Wire had just released a new album called Wire (because once you've been a band for almost forty years, why not go the self-titled route at long last?). T...
I guess they can't all be as crowd-pleasing as Executive Slacks (that might be the first time that phrase has been uttered). Which is good for me, because honestly this blog series is a little more interesting when there's some dissent, a frisson of debate, even the occasional "I HATE THIS." This...