Legendary rockers R.E.M. called it quits this week, and like it or not that meant something to a great many people. Personally I grew up with R.E.M. on my stereo. Reckoning, the band's second album, was my first exposure to music that wasn't on Z100's nightly top 10. It was wild. It was different. And it hooked me in a way that no other band has since.
In the years that followed, R.E.M. continued to grow in popularity, and parodoxically continued to put out great album after great album. This wasn't the established model of the-bigger-you-get-the-worse-you-get that we've all become accustomed to. This was, and still is, a blueprint for the way bands should operate. Write great songs. Play them like your life depended on it. Rinse. Repeat.
Not only that but they even operated like a band should. There were no egos, at least not apparent to the outside world. Everything was credited to "Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe" (or "BBMSTYP" if you were to read my license plate all through college) rather than what person wrote what part or what person played what. They were a BAND dammit. And a damn good one.
Which is why it was sad to see the band offer such diminishing returns after Bill Berry left. I won't go on a rant here, but if you want my thoughts on how bad a Berry-less R.E.M. then check out my review of the last album. The point is that the band slipped into decline, and while today's announcement may have prompted shouts of "finally" from the pubic, myself included, it's important to never forget that for at least 15 years of their career they made music that arguably has been unmatched in it's quality, urgency and influence to this day.
That's the R.E.M. I will always know. The guys that were just in a band. A band that fucking ruled.
Thanks for the memories guys.
R.E.M. - Wichita Lineman"