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Rock Revisionism

Posted by Geoff Edgers  April 1, 2008 04:37 PM

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A pet peeve of mine.

The new record comes out and the veteran band delivers chooses the following talking point. “Hey. The last couple albums really stunk. Finally, we’ve recaptured our glory and made something special.”

Yet when the aforementioned stinkers came into being, what did the boys say? That finally, they got it right. I bring this up as I read the stream of articles featuring R.E.M. I’ve heard “Accelerate,” the new album, and it is good in that simple, straight-forward rock way. But consider these quotes - trapped in time – about albums band members now dismiss.

On 1998’s “Up”
Mike Mills: "Bill's quitting led to the freedom to go in all these weird directions we would never go otherwise, but that we wanted to go in anyway…”

Michael Stipe: "So it was truly an experiment on all levels, and I think we came out of it with something pretty spectacular.”

On 2001’s “Reveal”
Peter Buck: "On the last record, Bill announced he was leaving on the day we began recording, so that obviously changed things for us. All the songs on “Up” were basically pieced together, and a lot of the work was done without us even seeing each other. I'm proud of it, but some of that give-and-take is missing. This time, we went into studios with people we'd worked with, and I think that comes out in the music.

On 2004’s “Around The Sun”
Michael Stipe: "Themes are starting to emerge, and it sounds like it's taking off from the last couple of records into unchartered R.E.M. territory. Kind of primitive and howling. For me, a very exciting trip."

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About Exhibitionist Geoff Edgers covers arts news for The Boston Globe..
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