Friday, December 2, 2011

CD Review: R.E.M. Sums Up 31 Years As "Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage"

R.E.M. were one of those bands that did things their way and found success with each new adventure. They released their first single, "Radio Free Europe" in 1981 and became an instant underground alternative cult band. Then in 1987, R.E.M. found success with their fifth album "Document" as it climbed into the Top 20 on the Billboard Album charts. By the beginning of 1991, R.E.M. were one of the biggest names in rock music with hits like "Losing My Religion" and "Everybody Hurts." As the 90s came to a close, R.E.M. had a difficult time finding the success that came less than a decade ago. The early retirement of the band's original drummer Bill Berry and the lack of sales for albums had the band rethinking their approach to making music. They decided that they needed to go back to move forward, so the band released two separate hits compilations. This sparked the band to release their comeback album, "Accelerate" in 2008 and the follow-up "Collapse Into Now" in 2011, which would become the band's last studio album as R.E.M. called it quits this past September.

Now from Warner Bros. Records we get the definite, career-spanning 2 CD greatest hits entitled "Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982-2011." Now with any greatest hits set, songs that should be on here were left off, but this is the first R.E.M. compilation that combines the band's I.R.S. Records years with their Warner Bros. hits. One of the best things about this compilation is that is was done with full cooperation of the band.

The first disc opens with 1982's "Gardening at Night" which gives us the high, fragile voice of Michael Stipe that latter fans might not be used to as his tone grew deeper with each new phase in the band's career. Each early R.E.M. album gets represented with at least two singles. One of the big surprises is the inclusion of "Shiny Happy People" as Stipe mentioned his dislike for this song and with so many other great songs on that album, this could have be easily replaced with another song. The first disc ends with "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" from the album "Automatic For The People."

Disc two continues with the album "Automatic For The People," beginning with the emotionally quiet "Everybody Hurts." Albums like "Monster," "Up," and "Reveal" only have one song from them, while R.E.M.'s last album, "Collapse into Now" used three songs. Like I said before, you can't put everyone's favorite songs together, but I believe Warner Bros. along with the band did a great job putting together this compilation to please both long-time fans and new ones too.

The set also includes three new songs that were written during the sessions for the band's last album. First is the quick "A Month of Saturdays" which is only 1:40 long and doesn't really make that much of an impact. The other two songs are more memorable as the first single "We All Back to Where We Belong" is the perfect song for a career ending compilation as Stipe sings his heart out. The album ends with the acoustic build-up "Hallelujah" which shows us the brilliance that this band still had to offer its fans.

After 31-years, R.E.M. decided to leave the music industry and its legacy behind as they solidified themselves as one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

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