The following post was submitted by my close personal friend E. Pluribus Gergely.
I’d like to get this whole thing settled…once and for all.
For years, the Moderator has been relentlessly jabbing at me for having the first three R.E.M. IRS long players in my record collection. Granted, I haven’t listened to them in years, but I decided to do just a few days ago. I’m here to to tell one and all that they are nothing to be embarrarassed about. They’re actually pretty solid. They feature a bunch of winners: “Gardening at Night,” “Radio Free Europe,” “South Central Rain,” “Pretty Persuasion”…all are tracks that still sound pretty friggin’ good. And “Rockville” borders on great. That’s right, great.
I caught them live as well, right around the release of Murmur. I saw them at the University of Pennsylvania, Bucknell, and the Tower Theater. They were phenomenal. Take a good look at the Letterman clips. That’s more or less what they looked like. To put it bluntly, they were cool, really cool, which is something that some of us (eg, Hrundivbakshi) refuse to admit is, was, and should always be a major point of criteria when judging a pop band.
All that pretty much ended when Stipe began to see himself as a visionary of sorts and dress accordingly. The debut of the shaved head along with the Harlequin coats and similar multilayered atrocities introduced the public to a new insufferable pompous ass that did nothing but make one’s stomach turn. You wanna bust on the band after the six-lane highway was crossed? Go for it. I’ll help throw the rotten eggs and tomatoes.
True, their initial trinity has been tarnished by a series of continual Hershey squirts comparable to what the Stones have served up post Some Girls. That said, those early efforts still manage to make me tap my feet. If you’ve got beefs with those records, I’d like to hear what they are. And I’d especially like to hear from the Moderator. And I’d also like the Moderator to be painfully honest about what bothers him most about R.E.M. He knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about, and believe me, brothers and sisters, when the truth rears its ugly head, it will be offensive on all levels, thoroughly offensive in the same way as his highly negative critique of Stevie Wonder‘s Songs in the Key of Life.
In the words of the Moderator, I look forward to your responses.