Monday, June 27, 2005

“That's Grunge REM”

Right now I'm listening to a bootleg from REM's Monster tour 1995. Monster was their 'grunge' album, heavier guitars, obscure lyrics (more so than usual even for Michael Stipe.) and way more energy than the previous couple of albums. (I've really warmed to the Monster album recently.)

The Monster tour was their first really really big tour, where they went from 80's indie rock poster children to out-U2'ing U2 in their stage theatrics.

But none of that's important. What's important is that on the monster tour they played all of their songs in the same style as Monster, with distorted guitars, faster tempos and rock drumming. I dropped what I was doing and went across the room to sit in front of the speakers when “Drive” with distorted guitars came on. The rock-out part near the end isn't quite as stark as on Automatic For The People but it's still a great song.

“Losing My Religion” still has the mandolin, but the backing guitars are way crunchier and Michael's vocals are sung more like “What's the Frequency Kenneth?” than the original.

Music trivia time: “Losing My Religion” is the most popular song in history that features a mandolin as the main instrument. (Yes, it was even bigger than “REMember” by Corky and the Juice Pigs)

I still don't own the Road Movie DVD, for which I definitely do suck, but I'm not really too eager to see Bill Berry's brain explode on stage. Still, it would be the best way to hear what I'm talking about.

Through this whole show Michael is very terse, with tentative 'hello's to the audience between songs, which is totally opposite to his stage presence while he's performing the songs. Stipe is an expert at keeping people guessing at what he's really thinking. He's managed to keep up that mysterious persona even today, which is damn impressive considering how big they got and how long their career has been. He's such an obviously smart guy, you just wish you could crack open that coconut of his and get at what really makes him tick.

Their last couple of albums after New Adventures in Hi-Fi have been so dull and pedestrian, it makes me think that they should go back and record their hits as they played them on this tour, with distortion and all, and re-capture some of their old energy, if not create new, original material that grabs attention and could make REM matter again.
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By al - 1:55 AM |

Comments:
When Monster came out I remember that I, along with most of my friends, was highly disappointed -- because, seriously, when you follow-up the alternative masterpiece that was Automatic For The People with a not-very-balls-out attempt at the sadly worn balls-out approach to rock you've failed most of your fan base. And then, to make matters worse, when you do a 180 and follow that up with the absolute brilliance of the who-gives-a-fuck-what-genre-it-is New Adventures In Hi-Fi you only manage to reiterate that you've had a lapse and it really, really shows.

I only point that out because even though beyond the singles I kind of hated Monster, you're entirely right that their post-Hi-Fi crap is...well...crap. And that that somehow makes this little bugger more appealing now.

Which is, of course, the same logic that lets an album like Marquee Moon be hailed by all of us young fucks as one of the greatest albums of the seventies even though only like three people actually heard it in that decade.

All of which is, of course, to say: "stupid time passing."
 
Precisely, I was also disappointeed when "Monster" came out, and didn't replace my CD when I lost it way back when. But I've warmed to it recently, and I'm thinking it may be because I'm grasping.
 
Love REM! :)Fav. songs from, Automatic For The People, Monster and Out Of Time. It sucks that their music isn't as good as it used to be, but love them anyway!
 
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