Poll: The Early 90’s REM Question

Does early 90’s REM (Out of Time, Automatic for the People, Monster, and New Adventures in Hi-Fi) suck? I say no, it doesn’t. In fact, I think they did some of their best work in the early 90’s. But other fans of 80’s REM say that it does, indeed, suck. This KB thread about overcoming snobbery in which anti-REM snobbery abounds has got me curious. I wonder if people’s differing takes on the early 90’s REM question is influenced by how they came to be familiar with the band. So I made a poll to come to an unquestionably definitive answer. Take it.

Disclaimer: I know the poll isn’t perfect, not everyone will find an option that fits them perfectly, not everybody has strong preferences, and we’re disregarding all post-New Adventures in Hi-Fi REM. But the results will still be interesting.



21 thoughts on “Poll: The Early 90’s REM Question

  1. Wait a second, you’re taking New Adv in Hi-Fi out of the equation? That album is the deal-breaker for me. With it, I go with new REM, without it, it’s no question it’s old REM–even with the greatness of Auto for the People.

  2. My first exposure to REM was Green. That came out it 1988, but it is more like the later stuff than the earlier stuff.

    My basic take is that, yes, REM did some of their best work in the early 90s. But the 80s stuff (pre-Green), taken as a whole, is more consisent, more interesting, and more timeless. You just don’t have to do much skipping with Document, Reckoning, Murmur, Fables, Pageant. After that, it’s a mixed bag, but with some of the greatest songs of the decade.

  3. I don’t actually own any 90’s R.E.M., so all I know is what’s been on the radio. “Everybody Hurts” and “Losing My Religion” are both brilliant songs. But “Shiny Happy People” and that song that goes “stand in the place where you live”—UGH. They are so annoying.

  4. Like Greg, my first exposure to REM was Green.

    All I know is that I’m not fond of most songs off of Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People.

    I like Monster.

    I’m also one of the few people that likes Up — which I still listen to occasionally.

  5. If you put New Adventures of Hi-Fi into the equation, you also have to put in Up. You can’t have it both ways.

    I first started listening to REM after Life’s Rich Pagaent came out. I got a copy of Reckoning, Fables and Murmer shortly after that.

  6. What if I drop Out of Time and Monster out and move Green and Eponymous in to the early 90’s? Also, I’ll throw in Wish.

  7. I would have to say it boils down to Lifes Rich Pageant/Document vs. Automatic for the People/New Adv in Hi-Fi.

    I believe these albums contain their best stuff and require the least amount of “skippage.”

    The other albums have some great songs, Radio Free Europe, Driver 8, Don’t Go Back to Rockville, Losing My Religion, What’s the Freq. Kenneth, but as a whole they’re less than stellar.

  8. Tom, you’re joking, right? It doesn’t make any sense to move Eponymous to the 90s. That’s like saying that The Beatles 1 is an album of the 90s.

    Frankly, I didn’t really like Eponymous all that much. The earlier albums weren’t really “hits” oriented, IMO.

  9. Hmmm, I forgot about Fables. Can’t Get There From Here, Wendell Gee, Maps & Legends, Driver 8…hmmmmm…

    Must resist…must not…change..opinion…don’t believe them…

    All right. Matching them up side by side, 80’s REM might actually be better. Sorry, Tom.

    However, 90’s REM is still brilliant and New Adv in Hi-Fi is still their best album.

  10. Yeah, Greg, I was joking, making the arbitrary cut-off even more arbitrary. I thought throwing in the Cure’s Wish would give it away.

  11. Tim, when did you get into REM? I’ll readily admit my opinion is colored by sentiment, since I got into them when Murmur came out. (1983, geeze louise. I was 13.)

  12. I grew up with it in the home as my brothers were big fans, so I was first exposed to it when I was 9 (?) when Document came out. I still remember how cool “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” was, and trying to learn the words.

    But I didn’t really get into them much until “Losing My Religion” hit the airwaves. I then went out and bought “Out of Time”. I was later given “Document” for X-Mas. Then, I remember waliking thru Target and seeing “Life’s Rich Pageant” (my favorite 80’s REM album) for real cheap so I bought it without having ever heard any of the songs.

    So, I would say I owned almost all their albums once “Automatic For the People” was released.

  13. I feel so old suddenly. I remember when there was no way you would ever find an REM album at Target. At the time, I figured you would never be able to, ever.

  14. 1. Automatic for the People
    2. Out of Time
    3. Up
    4. Life’s Rich Pageant
    5. New Adventures in Hi-Fi
    6. Green
    7. Document
    8. Monster
    9. Reveal
    10. Murmur
    11. Fables of the Reconstruction
    12. Around the Sun
    13. Reckoning

    By the way, Reckoning is one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

    Skippage with R.E.M.? Sheesh.

  15. I remember going to see REM at the Oakland Coliseum & sneering at all the people who only knew “Stand” and “Shiny Happy People” so.very.sad. Only time in my life I felt territorial about music. But I was bitter because I never saw them in a small club.

    There are several songs on Up that I like very much/ love to death : At my most Beautiful, Lotus, You’re in the Air, the Apologist.

    Strange Currencies off Monster was the first dance at my wedding (Husband’s choice) – My favorite is I don’t sleep, I dream.

    As far as Green is concerned, it’s the non single stuff that floats my boat: Get up, Hairshirt, Turn You Inside Out, You are the Everything.

    But the albums I listen to most are Life’s Rich Pageant and Fables.

  16. Early REM was best. I still have the article from a 1983 16 magazine that calls them an “up and comer”. So. Central Rain… that is a classic.

    However, Nightswimming from Automatic… is also a classic.

  17. Life’s Rich Pageant and Murmur are the best REM albums, followed by Reckoning and Document. Fables is okay. Green, Out of Time, and Automatic for the People are hit an miss… some sublime songs (i.e. Nightswimming and Find the River), some ridiculous.

    Monster was the last REM album I bought. Listened to it a few times, and then never again.

    I haven’t even heard any of their albums since then.

    These days, if I listen to REM, it is one of their first five albums, usually Life’s Rich Pageant or Murmur.

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