So. This is the first of two back-to-back ‘call outs’ to two musicians/groups that are older … but have created some timeless music.

This one began when I heard shiny happy people on the radio the other day. It reminded me of a great time in my life (those 90’s sure were good years and some good music).

In addition it reminded me how great a band REM is (was?) with such a varied repertoire.

Shiny Happy People was one of my favorites because not only was it an unusually poppy REM song but I have always loved Kate Pierson’s voice (b-52s singer, oh, and I may have had a crush on her anyway at that time). Oops. Different post.

So. Shiny happy people. Great fun song. Great melody and harmonies.

But it was pretty different from what they normally did. And it showcases the variety of REM.

Shiny Happy People (people focus on Losing my Religion … and rightfully so  … an awesome song) … is from Out of Time which is a truly spectacular pop cd with well crafted songs and an unusual sound for REM.

Then there was Orange Crush (although “you are everything” is actually my favorite song on that cd). Green is an up and down cd but (to me) but it also seems the moment they … well … matured from a social consciousness standpoint. I admit, I hated the radio singles, but listen to everything but the singles and it is awesome … the cd really seemed to dial up the heavier sounding rock hooks.  I also thought (despite its poppiness) it really stood up for their environmental & social consciousness … “I’m very scared of this world” are the words you hear lifting up over the marvelous mandolins on “You Are the Everything.”

Oh. And Driver 8 (my all time favorite REM song). Fables of Reconstruction is just an awesome cd strewn with awesome songs like Can’t get there from here (… I truly believe that if they had made this cd and Life’s Rich Pageant a double cd there may have never been a better cd release in all of music history).

These two cds marked REM as a unique sound in music. They may have actually truly defined alternative music as a genre at this time. These guys just write great sounding multi leveled well crafted distinct sounding music. And this cd (actually both of these) showed when they stepped up in song writing and their sound.

I sometimes believe we forget was an awesome multi faceted band REM is. I know they have a greatest hits cd but here would be my essential REM listen list (and I bet I have forgotten something):

Talk about the Passion

South Central Rain

Begin the Begin

Driver 8

Orange Crush

(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville

Fall on Me

Can’t Get There from Here

You Are the Everything

The One I Love

Man on the Moon

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Losing My Religion

Although. I probably could have just listed the track list for their back to back albums:

Fables of the Reconstruction

Life’s Rich Pageant

I am not sure any band has put out two albums in a row as excellent top to bottom as these two. They are timeless. As good today as they were then.

Regardless. Thanks REM. You won’t remember me but I remember seeing you play at a bar called the Oak Cooler in Winston Salem in about 1981 … and you guys were horrible.

But South Central Rain hooked me and I forgave first impressions and I am glad I did.

Written by Bruce