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      10 songs to introduce you to REM

      April 12, 2023, 2:43 p.m. | Updated: April 12, 2023, 2:58 p.m.

      REM in 1994: Peter Buck, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Bill Berry.

      REM in 1994: Peter Buck, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills and Bill Berry.

      Image: Santiago Bueno/Sygma via Getty Images

      There is much more to the band than Shiny Happy People. Here are some clues that might make you fall for them.

      40 years after the band’s acclaimed debut album Murmur was released on April 12, 1983, rapid eye movement They remain one of the best alternative groups of all time.

      In the 1990s, they were the American rock band to beat, with a collection of best-selling albums, #1 singles, and the biggest record deal in music history.

      In a 31-year career that has spawned 15 studio albums, it can be hard to know where to start, which is why Radio X has rounded up 10 of the best tracks the band ever made for you to try.

      1. Radio Song (1991)

        When they decided to ditch their “indie darlings” label and make music that could top the charts, REM did it with surprising ease thanks to huge hits like Losing My Religion and Shiny Happy People. However, they never lost their ambition to play with expectations and on Radio Song they even included a guest rapper with KRS-One. Stipe has since said that the song was piss on the band themselves. Either way, and despite the fairly basic rapping, it holds up surprisingly well.

        REM – Radio Song (Official Music Video) (This movie is in video version)

      2. Perfect Circle (1983)

        One of the highlights of his remarkable debut album Murmur, Perfect Circle, instantly stood out. For one thing, you could hear what lyrics Michael Stipe was singing on this one; for most of the rest of the album, we were all guessing.

      3. A month of Saturdays (2011)

        One of the last songs the band did before their split is also one of the most upbeat pop tracks they’ve ever recorded. From Stipe’s deadpan expression to Peter Buck’s clever guitar work, even a simple ditty like this is packed with thought and attitude.

      4. Seven Chinese Brothers (1984)

        Before they embraced the mainstream, REM were indie darlings who helped pioneer what became known in the United States as “college rock,” basically alternative pop tunes with clever lyrics. The album Estimate it was intended to capture the sound and energy of the band’s live performances and 7 Chinese Brothers is one of the best examples of that.

        7 Chinese Brothers (remastered in 2006)

      5. Discoverer (2011)

        This live version of Discoverer is one of the last clips of REM performing together and closes the recent documentary tracing the band’s career called REM on MTV. There’s a reason: It shows the magical chemistry between Stipe, Buck, and Mike Mills that got them through the hard times in the mid-1990s after Bill Berry’s departure.

        REM Discoverer Live @ Hansa Studios, Berlin

      6. E-Bow the Letter (1996)

        Moody and moody, this was the first single REM released after re-signing with Warner Brothers for around £50 million in today’s money. It was a statement of intent: The weirdos had made it to the big leagues, but they were determined to stay weird.

      7. (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (1985)

        Oh Mike Mills. He started out as one of the coolest members of a cool band, but when he started wearing rhinestone jackets in the 1990s, all was lost. Still, he produced some true songwriting gems, including this plea to his girlfriend that he not move to Rockville, Maryland. Although Stipe sings it in this intimate, disconnected version, Mills took over live performances of the song soon after.

        REM – Don’t come back to Rockville

      8. Find the River (1992)

        The latest single from the band’s biggest album. automatic for the people, Find The River struggled on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s a shame, as it’s certainly one of the best songs on an album of amazing tracks. Every band member gets a chance to shine and the harmonies are a chance for Bill Berry to show off.

        Find the River (Official Lyric Video)

      9. Radio Free Europe (1981)

        It’s impossible to know what the words are, but it’s just as impossible not to get caught up in the rhythm. This was REM’s first single and marked them as one to watch: hence this edgy but exciting appearance on David Letterman’s chat show. As debut singles go, it really set a marker for what was to come next: a band whose influences were clear but who tried to do things their own way.

        REM presents “Radio Free Europe” and “So. Central Rain” | lawyer

      10. Fall on Me (1986)

        REM’s environmental concerns of the late ’80s are more relevant than ever, and this song from 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant was one of the first entries. Fall On Me refers to the threat of acid rain, but Stipe’s lyrics expand to cover oppression in all forms. The dueling vocals between Stipe and Mills are just beautiful.


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