MEMORIES OF 2011 #1: R.E.M. Break Up (I Discover the Brilliance of Murmur)

I’m late coming around to a lot of bands/albums, but my R.E.M. fandom didn’t even take place until they’d announced they were splitting up and NEVER EVER getting back together. Before then the most I’d heard of their work was what you hear on the radio; Losing My Religion, Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon and Nightswimming with maybe a few of their later songs but it could be said that I knew they existed, I just didn’t know if they were really deserving of the accolades bestowed to them. To commemorate their demise, I decided to take a journey back to their early years and see if their early albums were as good as muso publications deemed them to be.

A lesson was learned that fateful day. R.E.M’s first album, Murmur, is seriously incredible. Far more jangly and poppier than I thought it would be, it’s the kind of album that would still be  critically acclaimed had it been released today. With probably one of the best and most important (it got them their deal with I.R.S) R.E.M. songs “Free Radio Europe” starting it off with a rush of immediacy, the record is such a fun and entrancing listen throughout that I’d say it’s probably an album that all fans of Alternative should listen to have in their collection. The deluxe edition is pretty ace as it’s both remastered and features a whole early R.E.M. gig.

Murmur aside, R.E.M. had a hell of a run from 1980 until this very year and most of their work over those three decades is pretty quality. Looking back now that I’m a fan of theirs, it’s kind of bittersweet that they called it a day. On the one hand, they were still making decent music and by all accounts were still great live. But on the other, the split was amicable and wasn’t as sour as many break-ups have been over the years (SEE: New Order) and their last album Collapse into Now was their best in a while, why not go out on a high?

Still, in 2011, R.E.M. disbanded and left behind a wealth of great, timeless music.

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