You all know I love R.E.M… I’ve posted on them more than most any other band. Well, little by little I’m re-building my R.E.M. vinyl collection, see one, pick it up, think of one, head over to GEMM.com and throw it in the cart. Check, done.
Such was the case of today’s feature, R.E.M.’s masterpiece Automatic For The People.
Been meaning to pick it up but each time I thought about it, I wasn’t near a record store or a computer (rare, I know). A couple weeks back, while listening to Murmurs (again), it clicked in my head. So before my ADD sent me off to lard knows what, I popped in to my favourite mom & pop record store compiling website and found it for a few bucks out in Germany (aka, the land of plenty). Picked the cheapest shipping, checked out, and forgot about it (international cheap-ass shipping’s going to take a while). This is one of my favourite ways to buy vinyl because by the time it makes it to Columbus, I’ve already forgotten I ordered it, so it ends up being a wonderful vinyl surprise waiting for me and really…. who DOESN’T like a surprise LP?
That’s right, no one.
So the album… what can you say? It’s simply one of the greatest albums of the 90’s (or maybe since the 1990s?), it was 1992 and it’s not grunge, it’s not pop, it’s certainly not cool, and it’s not Out Of Time Part II meaning it’s probably more punk than anything calling itself punk in 1992, yet theirs nary an electric guitar on it! Bono said it was the “greatest country record ever made”, well, fuck country, this album is transcendant. It take elements of whatever is right for each song and uses it perfectly.
It’s blunt, it’s cryptic, it’s beautiful, it’s awkward, it’s the desert, the suburbs, the city, and it’s got that fucking sweet ass bass line in “Ignoreland” (sorry, I’m listening as I write and that bass just washed goosebumps along my body, goddamn). I remember when it came out, I liked Out Of Time, but it was certainly a little “poppy” for my young taste back then (high school, I was young)… I remember the first single, the video for “Drive” coming on one of those late night video shows on NBC or something on Saturday nights (came on after Saturday Night Live, I think?)…
It was perfect, a completely anti-climatic response to “Shiny Happy People”, it was the album title, it was a loss of control, but in complete control, it wasn’t expected and it was exactly REM.
Why do I love REM? Because everytime I think I’ve got them figured out, they change it again, yet everytime they change it again, they stay the same. They lose a drummer, so they try something new, you think they are going to continue to explore textures and layers and they bust out Accelerate. Warner Bros worse contract decision helped to continuate (is that a word?) America’s best band (yeah, that’s right, I said BEST, ha!).
Alright, enough emoting all over these guys (ewww), let’s hear the music as…
TSURURADIO Presents… Automatic For The People on Vinyl!!!
2. “Try Not to Breathe”
3. “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite”
4. “Everybody Hurts”
5. “New Orleans Instrumental No.1”
6. “Sweetness Follows”
1. “Monty Got a Raw Deal”
3. “Star Me Kitten”
4. “Man on the Moon”
6. “Find the River”