Together for thirty years, R.E.M.’s greatest albums showcase the Athens, Georgia legends’ incredible artistic progression for what it was — a true Rock rarity. They also serve as a welcome introduction to the rest of the band’s deep discography. Though there’s plenty of great writing about what the band’s music means to contemporary listeners in relation to their breakup earlier this week, I prefer to focus on the music itself to see what made R.E.M. stand apart from the crowd.
Few bands in the modern rock or alternative landscape have managed to craft such a diverse discography, so many albums which managed to build upon each other, creating mainstream success through recording, touring and then living the music and letting it live through them. I’ve published my take on the five most essential R.E.M. albums at a new site I write for, P.J. Media — you can read the article here, including reviews of each of the five key albums, ranked and featuring key tracks for those who have yet to discover the band, or who want to dig deeper.
If you missed it, you should also read my piece “Four Emerging Artists on the Cutting Edge”, which ran on September 8th on the same site. I will be contributing a weekly piece of music criticism to PJ Media as one of their few non-political voices. Hope you’ll all stop by!