George Starostin's Reviews

R. E. M.


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Joe H. <> (18.05.2002)

I agree. Fantastic record with some awesome songs, particularly "Perfect Circle", "Talk About The Passion", "Shaking Through" and the very underrated "We Walk". I especially love Stipe's vocals the same as you, as it has this cute, modest charm and at the same time the melodies he sings are absolutely beautiful and quite mature most times as well (despite the unintelligablity). A classic, and i give it a 9.5 out of 10.

Fidel Saúl Juárez Guzmán <> (25.05.2002)

Wow! A neutral review for a perfectly neutral college-we-wanna-be-hip-but-we-have-a-steady-rhythm-section-crawlin' from the redneck boogie and cowboy hats scene- album. What was it that they gave to the world in 1983? First, we'd have to seriously ask what exactly could a contemporary band originate in these and in those days. Some... integrity, maybe? For once, they were always a much too melodic act amongst the artsy college people in Athens, Georgia to be idolized within their primal crowd, and weren't too threatening for the mainstream airwaves that already had it with punk but still were keen to play current music. The band was kinda generic and pretty, see, but smart as they played their cards with perfection from the very beginning, and unlike other enduring bands from the eighties like Midnight Oil and The Cure, they are survivors. Ultimately, R.E.M. was able to perform gentle pop that derivated from the sixties. Remember they once opened for The Police, back in 1984, and they weren't received with any noise. Anyway, I wasn't even all that interested in rock and pop in those days, although I would have taken "Perfect circle" over "Pride" or "Roxanne" every time of the day. Funny... about "Perfect circle", it seems that this kind of anti-bombast isn't meant to pick up girls... =) Funnier still, R.E.M., a no personality band -if you like, has stumbled to plenty of bombast throughout their career. That's how they built their catalogue, out of versatility.

By the way, be sure to start digging from this or any other from their I.R.S. catalogue, because in terms of relative originality, this is the main deal -not particularly "Shinny happy people". Bootlegs (the live experience) actually offer infinite concert programs, in which Stipe could indulge in a personal rendition of "Moon river" (whatever), and the whole band could salute some of their music idols -the rolling stones ("Paint it black"), the sex pistols ("God save the queen") and so.

John Schlegel <> (20.11.2003)

In my experience, this album sounded a little dull and ordinary at first, but it really grew on me after listening to it enough times.  Although the record came off as samey to me at one time, at least half of the songs stand out now. I always thought the singles "Radio Free Europe" and "Talk About the Passion" were high points, as well as the lovely "We Walk" and "Moral Kiosk." In fact, the latter is my favorite on the album because I find IT to be the most bombastic track! And a wonderfully jarring rocker it is. Still, I have recently come to appreciate the beautiful chorus of "Laughing," and I now like "9-9" for many of the same reasons I love "Moral Kiosk" so much -- it's just so messed up, and it doesn't sound a great deal like anything else on the record. As for the other six songs, they're a bit more average, and less memorable.  But they're decent, and by no means bad; like you said, there are no weak songs on this album. I used to barely be able to give this four stars, but now that I have finally gotten into it, I think I can see Murmur in 4 1/2 star territory. Stipe and Buck both sound refreshingly minimalistic, and the band creates a unique atmosphere on here. Life's Rich Pageant is more immediately accessible than this, but the genius of Murmur will sink in if you give it enough chances.


Michael J. West <> (01.06.2002)

I can't help it. I heard this album after MURMUR, and yet I like it better. In fact, it's my very favorite REM album (although FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION is close). I mean, MURMUR seems a little monotonous to me after three or four listens, but this one, this RECKONING, sounds more and more diverse the more times I hear it. All kinds of different aural colors, from Stipe's perfect "Sorryyyyy" wail on "So. Central Rain" to the loverly piano riffs on "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville," a song so great that I've taken to actually referring to the city itself (in DC-area Maryland, and home of one of the best record stores in the US) as Don't-Go-Back-To-Rockville. Anyway, to summarize: I love this album. It's got great breadth of ideas, and they're all done marvelously. Hooray for RECKONING!

Fidel Saúl Juárez Guzmán <> (07.06.2002)

The main reason why I like this band so much is because they've always known how to cover their asses. So, now they want to be rock'n'roll stars? Nothing better than to find the simplest ideas, amongst two brilliant singles, wrap them up as "another side of", and come across as the humble exception amongst many of the crap that was played on the radio. I can't say they're lucky, but thinking if Murmur had ever been an experimental disaster in the first place, not many critics had bothered to take them seriously with this as their follow-up.

And... consistency alone could never save them if they'd only recorded this and called it a day. It's a cute and simple record which absolutely didn't give anything new to the world in 1984... Maybe one or two kids in America were drawn to cover "So. Central Rain", literally within their garages, which doesn't sound like an impossible task after all as R.E.M. were an unpretentious cover band from their very beginning. This surely has something to do with the naive "anyone can do it" punk creed, and it comes across throughout the humbleness of the album. New ground for a second LP from the band, for the time being.

John Schlegel <> (20.11.2003)

Well, I tend to be in closest agreement with the first reader comment here. At least, I USED to prefer this one to the debut (granted, I heard Reckoning first). Recently, Murmur has grown on me, and I'm a little tired of this one, but I still find both records to be about equally great. It's just that they're great in completely different ways. 'Reckoning' I love because there's more diversity, and the standout tracks are even more outstanding than the ones on Murmur. "Harborcoat" and "Rockville" are so deliciously catchy, and who can resist the murky "7 Chinese Bros." and "So. Central Rain"? "Time After Time" is beautifully exotic, and "Little America" pounds the album into a nice finish. No, I'm not crazy about "Camera" either, and I can never even remember how "Letter Never Sent" goes after it's over. Nonetheless, I think Reckoning is a nice, rustic little melding of styles, and another winner. 4 1/2 stars.


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Regan Tyndall <> (13.08.2005)

I love both 'Rockville' (written entirely by bass player Mike Mills, by the way) and 'Cuyahoga', but 'Cuyahoga' is clearly the superior track. In fact, for me it's not only far and away the best track on LRP, it's the third or fourth greatest R.E.M. track in the entire canon. A profoundly moving (and tuneful) song discussing the genocide of native Americans with the metaphor of a blood-red river... it actually brings me to tears on occasion. And Stipe should have won some prize for the opening lines: "Let's put our heads together / and start a new country up / Our fathers' fathers' fathers tried / and erased the parts they didn't like... genius.

Bob Josef <> (03.11.2005)

This was my first R.E.M. purchase, and I still rate it the best. I later got into the earlier stuff, which I love, but this is a major leap. Big credit should go to producer Don Gehman, who brought everything far more forward in the mix. Especially the drums, which brings a new power to the band. The singles drew me into the album, of course. "Fall on Me" (which really should be titled "Don't Fall on Me") is a really gorgeous ballad, but when "Superman" came on the radio, I was really intrigued. It sounded like a 60's song, but with a modern drum track? "Cuyahoga" is my other favorite -- very moving. The group later thought the album was too straightforward, but there's certainly enough abstraction to maintain the R.E.M. mystique.

Three B-sides from the sessions have surfaced on CD. Quick studio run-throughs "Just a Touch" and Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic" (on Dead Letter Office) show that the group was already headed in this direction before Gehman got involved. "..Attic" also appears on the In the Attic collection along with "Rotary Ten," a Gehman produced instrumental which sounds like a theme to a 40's film noir. They were still weird -- you just hear better how weird!

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