I think it’s hilarious…Dave just said he had a great idea for a blog post on here. It was NOT the same idea I had, so I hope he takes a cue from mine and tries to find an artist who would fit in this category. His idea is far better (so I’ll likely try to find something along that line), but this one idea has been knocking around in my head for a few days now, so why NOT actually post some new blogs on the HC? I should, Dave should, should anyone else? The answer would be yes! Join us at the Hive Collective. You must. You must.
So anyway, the newest thoughts on this blog are that there need to be new areas to dive into the vinyl. Not just favorites, but some that are not (the last two posts). Dive a little deeper into the artist, the music, the mania surrounding the music, and those who are collectors of that vinyl. I easily have multiple artists where I own more than 10 records of their catalog (Duran Duran, INXS, Boy George, MJ,Wham!/George Michael, Elton, Billy, Prince), so why not find some more of the bad as well as the good? Fair is fair, and not every artist has great music all the time. Dave was just talking about artists with albums today at work, but I’m saying no more because it directly relates to his next blog post here. So my idea is this- I’m going to pick one artist at random, and list the best and worst 5 records I have from that artist in my personal record collection. Another thing- the vinyl profiled doesn’t need to be one size- if it’s a 33″, a 45″, anything goes here at Hannibal Collector!
So, after deep thought, I decided that I really wanted to dive into R.E.M.’s catalog today. This is brought on by a moody Sunday at the casa, where I wrote multiple bitchy blog posts that got deleted the moment I woke up this morning and realized my bitch (female) nature had taken ahold of me yesterday. The only thing that made me feel a thousand percent better yesterday afternoon was R.E.M. In particular, one album. Whenever I listen to New Adventures In Hi-Fi, something happens to me. I get inspired. It picks me up, it lets me down, it throws me into a spin-cycle of emotions. When my mom got sick and up until and again after her death, this was the one album that kept me going through. I’m not sure why, likely because it’s such a roller coaster album all the way through (my opinion), and that fit perfectly with the waterslide that were my emotions at that painful time. It STILL manages to mess my shit up, and yet I will stand by and say I think it’s in my top 3 REM albums. And we know how many albums REM had in their career….then I began flashing back to other REM albums, and I went hunting for some vinyl. Then I turned on the record player and spun some Stipe (oh boy, THAT sounds wrong!), and felt better. Then I found some other R.E.M. that had me shaking my head going “Why do I own this?” (shades of the other blog posts previously on the HC). So, from that- comes this:
G’s Top 5 R.E.M. Vinyl:
1. NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI: For exactly the reasons listed in the paragraph above, and for the emotional tumult I am currently sliding around in. Thanks to the Lords of Athens for keeping me up in arms! Favorite Stipe lyric: From “Bittersweet Me“: “I’d sooner shoot my leg off than get caught in this”- perfectly described the 2nd relationship! Favorite songs: All, except for one lone wolf: E-Bow The Letter, with Patti Smith. I don’t have a personal bone to pick with Patti Smith. In fact, I do enjoy some of her work. HOWEVER, this song just drones on and on and on. It isn’t my favorite, but over time, I have adjusted. A song like “Leave”? Incredible, and still one of my all-time favorites. Overall, I love this album top to bottom.
2. MONSTER: Well, this beauty came out in 1994. The year of Biceps For Jesus. A lot of crazy going down. We had lost our generation’s voice, Kurt Cobain. Seattle was in full grunge mode. Hair metal was quietly dying in a pool of melting Aqua Net at a honky tonk in Allentown, PA. And this loud, crackling guitar riff on MTV at 2am in the morning on a Thursday night in Oak Park, IL, changed my opinion of R.E.M. forever. I had always counted on them as a band that delivered albums that brought out the deep, reflective sides of all corners of this parallelogram known as life. It was always a smooth, mellow ride. This song? “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” sounded like NOTHING I had ever heard out of R.E.M. before. The video? Equally hypnotic. You had to know that Peter Buck could roll like a motherfucker with that guitar, and I think this was his first chance to let loose all the way through. I can NEVER listen to this album enough..even now. Not a crappy song on it, and it reminds me of a far happier time in my life, and really, there can’t be enough of those albums that do it for you.
3. OUT OF TIME-Another stellar album. This one doesn’t have a bad song on it, either! My personal favorite is “Texarkana”. Not sure why, it just had me from the second I heard it, and I thought nothing of playing it again and again, to the point that Jenny Z. begged me never to hear it again. I plead guilty. This one brought worldwide acclaim in 1991 (year of my high school graduation. Good grief!) with a catchy little ditty called “Losing My Religion”. The boys, unwilling pop stars who just wanted to make music, found themselves all over MTV’s hourly rotation and everywhere else. 1991? I was having the time of my life. Good memories, and a great soundtrack to it with Out of Time.
4. REVEAL– This, their twelfth album, was released in 2001. That year, in G’s world, involved her beloved Crown Books folding into Biblepalooza Books, and falling head over heels in love with a weenie tot. Yes, a human being, but I’ll call him a weenie tot (an upgrade from what I usually call him). So there was some horror (at the impending doom of innumerable neverending Paula Deen cookbooks at work) and there was optimism (at the impending doom of #3, which was up and down and all around on my tracks for the better part of ten years). The album was played a ridiculous amount, and it never failed to lift my spirits. Even now? I can still spin that vinyl and I’m singing and dancing along like a fool. Just a good album, start to finish. And the video for “Imitation of Life” is pretty entertaining, all these years later.
5. ACCELERATE: Album #14 came out in March, 2008. I don’t remember much except that #3 was on its last run down my tracks, and I was OBSESSED with playing Duran Duran’s Red Carpet Massacre, which came out in November, 2007. However, one listen to Supernatural Superserious, the first single, on WXRT, and I had to have the album. Right away, there was some energy here, which was a vast improvement from the bucket of piss album before (Around The Sun) this one. “Man Sized Wreath”, “Living Well is the Best Revenge“, and “Hollow Man” are all favorites, but really, a great album top to bottom. A great album cover design, and Jacknife Lee brought out something in them that I hadn’t heard in sonic form since “Monster“. A pleasant surprise.
G’s Bottom Of The Heap R.E.M. Vinyl:
1. Around The Sun:: I have no earthly idea what was going on with Stipe & Co in 2003/2004 when they were making this drivel. It could NOT have been good. I got this on vinyl as a gift from Weenie Tot. I think it was found at a dive record store somewhere, but it was nicely adorned with the $2.00 sticker still on it. First I was pissed because the motherfucker couldn’t even take the sticker off, then I was pissed because once I opened it and played it, I felt like the $2.00 he wasted on it could’ve gone toward a bottle of something or a pack of smokes. I can’t even identify a single song on it that I enjoyed. I remembered hearing “Leaving New York” and thinking that I wished the clones that were playing R.E.M. would get vaporized in a field of magnolias, back into the awesome trio they usually were. There’s nothing to save this one. The band does NOT play any songs off of it, and Peter Buck has freely admitted that it’s unlistenable and that the band were clearly not happy with the material, and it showed. Give the boys points for honesty. So, friends, if you see this album in a record bin, RUN!
2. UP- I used to defend this album because it had one or two really good songs on it. However, I have come to realize over the years that it’s just not that good. I wouldn’t call it absolute shite (see above) because there are at least three songs on it that don’t suck, but overall, a very disappointing release from the boys. For the record, the songs I enjoy are “Diminished“, “Lotus“, and “At My Most Beautiful“, which goes to show that despite an album worth of weird filler and downtrodden electronic beats and drum machines (first album without Bill Berry), that the band can still produce some quality. The cover design blows, the album sounds muted and then completely mono in parts, and there is no discernible thread throughout. I’m going to blame Nigel Goodrich for this, because he engineered the album. Goodrich? Bush’s record producer. Say no more.
3. Automatic For The People– I’m going to take major shit for this one. It’s not that I don’t love parts of it, but as a whole, it doesn’t move mountains for me. It barely moves an anthill, actually. I will likely get nasty postal mail from Mr. Rich Snyder, because I know he loves this album. I did, too, the 100 million times I heard it in 1992/1993/eternity. The problem was, it just didn’t resonate much with me. I can listen to it now and see more value in it; yet, it’s largely ignored in my collection. I will see it and keep flipping through. It’s not personal, or maybe it is, but a lot of it is just there. Or maybe I just felt as an album it was played so much that it was overplayed for me for life. What did I like? “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite”(a song many of my friends mock, but I love it because it’s different and it’s FUN!), “Everybody Hurts“(a song I still love, but if I hear it start, I do groan aloud), and “Man On The Moon”. Overall, though? I can do without.
4. Dead Letter Office– I picked this up at Beautiful Day Records in Lagrange, which I had spoken of often on this blog. A good number of my vinyl came from that little slice of heaven. This was when I was going through my major R.E.M. discovery stage. Anything that I saw with their name on it I got… including this. I was excited because it was ‘rarities, B-sides, demos”, and I liked hearing rare stuff from a band that I held in high regard. The cover did little for my libido, but R.E.M. covers usually dont’, anyway. I listened to it once, I listened to it twice, and I put it away, with no effect on me whatsoever. Years went by, I moved several times when Love came a callin’ and then Love went a fallin’, and whenever I unpacked it, I had to listen to it again. Like granite on a marble countertop orgy, nothing. Nothing. At. All. Yesterday, I put it on again. And again, Nothing. At. All. Avoid. At. All. Costs.
5. Document- This one is known primarily for being Stipe’s political album on the misrepresentation of what was going on with the political shenanigans of one Ronald Reagan. Your big hit was “The One I Love“, a song that got them some major notice, but really the only standalone track on this album. I love Stipe’s lyrics and I love R.E.M., but I connect more with the emotive side of the band, rather than the political side of the band. Listened to it again to be fair, but was bored after Side 1 and turned it off. Even age can’t bring wisdom to my liking this album.
So, overall, I love, love, love more than despise the R.E.M. in my vinyl collection. And I have all their albums on vinyl. I don’t own any 45’s by them, because I believe they are one of those bands that are solid start to finish on multiple albums, so I didn’t waste a lot of time buying their singles on 45, simply because I wanted the entire album. Great band, great albums, only a few dim spots in their night sky, and you really can’t argue with that, can you?