November 13, 2004

The Great REM Album Review!

Well, here we are. Isn't this fun?
I hope you are all ready for this as it's going to be something VERY SPECIAL.
So, rather than fanny about telling you what a fun-filled, on the money, arse-kicking excuse for a day I've had, and with (shock horror) not even a hint of a drop of the devils brew touching my lips yet, I feel it's time to jump right in and explain the rules of the game.
  1. I am king and what I say goes. Awight?
  2. No leniency will be shown. Ever. Tell it like it is, that's my motto.
  3. Marks will be given out of 10 for each track.
  4. The best album will have the highest points score.
  5. If there is a tie, or say, the second placed record has 6 tracks, and the top record has 32, the law of averages will be brought in to play. Obvious really.
  6. If anyone thinks I'm talking bollocks, feel free to tell me. I'm all ears. If your argument is good then I may contemplate amending my original marks. I probably won't though. It's my review so sod you and your opinion.
That's it. Simple enough. Okay, before we proceed I'm going to have a drink. See you back here after the interval...


Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed your Bacardi and cokes. I am a bit leathered, so it seems like the perfect time to leap into REM's debut thing. 1983 it says on the back of the cd case. Crap. That's a long time ago. I think I was big into Wham at that particular time, and I certainly didn't have a clue who this lot were as I was a paltry six years of age. Anyway, stop trying to work out how old I am and pull up a pew.

Murmur (1983)

1. Radio Free Europe
This is good. Not sure what's going on at the beginning, and Stipey sounds like a farmer who's had too many Hamlets at the family barbecue. Ooh, there are some bells in the middle! Interesting. Slightly pointless, but good nonetheless. Overall it's a jaunty, countrified, stylish opener. Good work lads. I haven't got a clue what you're on about, but I dig it. (8/10)

2. Pilmrimage
Someone's shouting from a long way away about going fishing. It's a bit odd on the old harmonies, and the words "two-headed cow" just appeared out of nowhere. A bit of a strange'un here methinks. There's that two-headed cow again. And all of a sudden it's gone all Beach Boys on me. What the fuck's going on? Despite all this madness it's still alright, but the early momentum has certainly been lost. (4/10)

3. Laughing
I like this. Good guitars. Good ideas. Not over the top. A good caning after that last aberation did the trick alright. The titles a bit weak, and the lyrics are, lets be honest, shit. The middle eighth (did I just make that up? I think I did) is piss poor too, but generally I couldn't be happier if just found fifty quid in a piece of stilton. (6/10)

4. Talk About The Passion
This song shows you why REM are so bloody famous. Basically they're bleeding good at writing bleeding good songs. This one's ace. Slightly slow in places, but nice use of cello saves the day. Well done cello! Stipeo needs to see a doctor about his throat though. (7.5/10)

5. Moral Kiosk
What is that title all about eh? Bugger me if I know. The lyrics sound like a random assortment of bollocks sentences. Good chorus, but still, 'Moral Kiosk'? Slightly repetitive, but having gotten off on the wrong foot, it would have taken something bloody amazing to rescue this one from the dull and ever so annoying pit it's ended up in. (4/10)

6. Perfect Circle
Killer tune. Someone next door told them to stop being so noisy and this was the result. A work of genius. Everyone's nice and polite, the piano is beautiful, the song's got real feeling and I'm as happy as a pig in the proverbial. (9/10)

7. Catapult
"We were little boys, we were little girls." Hmm. Sounds a bit like Pilgrimage. The ideas don't seem to be flowing thick and fast around here. And what or who is the catapult in question? I don't for one minute believe that there is, or was, a 10 metre high ancient Roman weapon of mass destruction lying about in some kids backyard in 1960's mid-west America. That's just silly. And so is the song. Could do better. (4/10)

8. Sitting Still
This is alright, but to be honest it's all starting to blend in to one big fucked up version of 'Annie Get Your Gun'. Except angrier. I like a bit of anger. Yell Mike! Yell! (5/10)

9. 9-9
From Perfect Circle to this! It's okay, but okay ain't bringing home the bacon baby. Or something. Lots of mumbling, some shouting. The guitars are cool (well done Pete) and it's more interesting than the last couple of lame mallards, but it is abundantly clear that inspiration - and imagination - are sorely lacking. Still, give them time, they'll learn. Hot potato. (6/10)

10. Shaking Through
Less offensive than The Waltons, but a bit too Kenny Rogers for my liking. I'm bored now. Fetch me my handbag Jeeves! (5/10)

11. We Walk
This is, as Dougal would say, a bit mad. But oddly captivating. Thunder. Or is that someone dropping a piano? As you do. Odd tempo. Odd lyrics. Odd oddy odd odd. I'm interested again. Sod the handbag Jeeves, get me a pitcher of Pimms and some pork scratchings! (6.8/10)

12. West Of The Fields
This is like Pilgrimage too. They're all like Pilgrimage! But this is good. Fast, punkyish, and they sound a bit pissed off which is funny, because that's how I'd feel if my debut album contained this many duff tunes. Not the most bombastic ending to an album ever. In fact, it doesn't even feel like the end of the album. I've been sitting here for 6 hours since the sound stopped and I'm still waiting for it to properly announce that it's over. How depressing. (5/10)

Well, that gives an overall score of 70.3 out of a possible 120. That's just under 5.9 for each track. Pretty average fare really. Two or three crackers and the rest can reliably be described as a pile of stinky plop. And I thought this album was good too! How the mighty have fallen in my estimation.

Anyway, I'll be back with album number 2 this time next week. And please, if you don't agree with me let me know. I could do with a good fight.


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