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iTunes Editors’ Notes

R.E.M. nearly broke up during the making of this album. It was their first without drummer Bill Berry, and the band had once said that if any member ever left, they'd cease being R.E.M. Yet Berry’s decision to leave was at least partially due to health concerns (he’d suffered a brain aneurysm onstage), and the parting was amicable; therefore the band felt justified continuing musically. Drum machines and session drummer Joey Waronker and percussionists Barrett Martin and Scott McCaughey became the rhythm section, with Mike Mills handling bass duties as usual. The songs sound like R.E.M. moving into a new phase less driven by guitars and more by atmospheres that often loom closer to the dark side. “Airportman” and “Suspicion” successfully challenge the definition of their sound. “Hope” led to Leonard Cohen receiving a writing credit once the group realized the song had nicked part of the melody to his classic “Suzanne.” Piano starts the Pet Sounds–like “At My Most Beautiful.” Other highlights (“Walk Unafraid,” “Daysleeper”) further redefine the band in ways that earned them new fans and left less adventurous older fans unsure.

Customer Reviews

My Favorite!

Showing that great things come from adversity, I really do feel this is their best work...and I got 'em all!!


Formed: 1980 in Athens, GA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

R.E.M. marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first single, "Radio Free Europe," was released in 1981, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the early '80s, R.E.M. brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon. Combining ringing guitar hooks with mumbled, cryptic lyrics and a D.I.Y. aesthetic borrowed from post-punk, the band simultaneously sounded traditional...
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