R.E.M.'s Murmur: still a classic
Sep 3, 2009 at 8:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 19

VicAjax

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I've been slowly converting my CD collection to ALAC, and just imported this gem.

I haven't listened to Murmur in at least 5 years... possibly closer to 10. What a flawless album... easily one of the best debuts in the past 30 years (if you don't count their equally supurb Chronic Town EP).

I grew up in Atlanta, so R.E.M. were a hometown phenomenon even as they were becoming national stars. They were a huge part of my youth, and their mindbending ability to draw from and fuse various genres into a singular sound had a huge impact on me.

On Murmur, Stipe's surreal, often incomprehensible singing sounds like he drinks cigarette tea for breakfast every day. Combine it with Buck's jangly arpeggios and Mills's little-boy backup singing and the whole album it has a mesmerizing sense of mystery, like it was just dug up from the kudzu that overgrows its cover.

And there's not a single weak song on it. Every song seems to be better than the one before it. "Perfect Circle" is playing now. Wow.

If one were to listen to it for the first time knowing nothing about the band, you'd never be able to peg what era its from... its timeless in a way that even other masterpieces are not.

Or maybe i'm just intoxicated by nostalgia. Nahh.

592px-rem_murmur_cover.jpg
 
Sep 3, 2009 at 8:57 PM Post #2 of 19

catachresis

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Yeah, Vic, Murmur *is* a classic. I can't decide whether it or Reckoning is my favorite. Everything after Document is just a mess, a skidmark on the international pop roadmap.

I remember when it used to be so crucial, so topical to have intellectual conversations about what Michael Stipe was really saying. I remember a few years later--about the time that Mikey Stipe had started telling everybody that R.E.M. was the only band that mattered, and about the time that Bono Vox got a Joshua Tree thrust up his arse so high, he thought he was Jesus--that we all started to hear Michael expound on the philosophy of his lyrics, and how "Harborcoat" was about Nazis. . . .And it was all just so depressing. Everybody had hoped that Peter Buck wouldn't be hanging out with such a poseur.

But then Paul Leary told the press that The Butthole Surfers had moved to Athens just to annoy Michael Stipe, and everything was alright again.
 
Sep 3, 2009 at 10:36 PM Post #4 of 19

userlander

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One of my favorite albums of all time. In one sense I agree that most everything else was downhill from there, but not meaning because later stuff was all bad or a "mess" but just because Murmur was so great.

All of their albums after Document had some really great songs -- maybe even better than some on Document, or Fables/LRP (which both had some unquestionably /great/ songs, as well as (let's face it) some less successful throwaways -- from Out of Time, to Monster, to New Adventures Hi-Fi, to even Green, and of course Automatic for the People -- probably their best and most mature work after Murmur and then Document. Those aren't skidmarks at all, imo!
 
Sep 3, 2009 at 10:41 PM Post #5 of 19

leichnitz

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It may be heresy to someone who grew up in Athens with REM, but I would have to go with Automatic for the People. Love Murmer and Reckoning, but I am a sucker for the sound of the album, particularly the soulful longing for innocence of Night Swimming.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 12:53 AM Post #6 of 19

DarkAngel

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Still waiting.............

For the ideal expanded edition of Murmur that would include tracks from Chronic Town EP. The IRS Extra Tracks edition and the recent 2CD Deluxe versions do not have them.......only currently avialable on the Dead Letter Office collection

Of course I could make my own CDR at any time
tongue_smile.gif
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 1:36 AM Post #7 of 19

Uncle Erik

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Yes, Murmur is another one of my all-time favorites. If I get home at a reasonable hour, I'll have to put it on and let it play the whole way through. I'll also admit to loving Automatic for the People. The DualDisc/hi-rez version arrived the other day - still need to get around to buying a DVD-A player to go with.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 1:59 AM Post #8 of 19

VicAjax

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catachresis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yeah, Vic, Murmur *is* a classic. I can't decide whether it or Reckoning is my favorite. Everything after Document is just a mess, a skidmark on the international pop roadmap.

I remember when it used to be so crucial, so topical to have intellectual conversations about what Michael Stipe was really saying. I remember a few years later--about the time that Mikey Stipe had started telling everybody that R.E.M. was the only band that mattered, and about the time that Bono Vox got a Joshua Tree thrust up his arse so high, he thought he was Jesus--that we all started to hear Michael expound on the philosophy of his lyrics, and how "Harborcoat" was about Nazis. . . .And it was all just so depressing. Everybody had hoped that Peter Buck wouldn't be hanging out with such a poseur.



every last word QFFT, man. QFFT.
and don't forget Paul Westerberg swirling down the money hole.

Quote:

But then Paul Leary told the press that The Butthole Surfers had moved to Athens just to annoy Michael Stipe, and everything was alright again.


And Sonic Youth released an album of Madonna covers. and Superchunk sang "Gimme Indie Rock."
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 2:51 AM Post #10 of 19

catachresis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by VicAjax /img/forum/go_quote.gif
every last word QFFT, man. QFFT.
and don't forget Paul Westerberg swirling down the money hole.



Aww Man! I still don't know what to say about what happened to Paul Westerberg--it's just so inexplicably bathetic. The last positive thing I heard relating to him was Glen Campbell covering "Sadly Beautiful." It was like somebody doing restitution in a 12-step program--only by proxy.

Quote:

And Sonic Youth released an album of Madonna covers. and Superchunk sang "Gimme Indie Rock."


Do you remember Son-of-Minutemen fIREHOSE's "For the Singer of REM" with all the risibly symbolic lyrics? I always figured that the the ultimate line's "The door's a symbol for/ these objects in your drawer" was actually suggesting "The door's a symbol for/ this object in your drawers."

Wheee! Well, with all the panache that you would expect, Mikey responded in Document with one of those throw-away numbers, "Oddfellows Local 151"

Oddfellows Local 151 behind the fIREHOUSE
Where Peewee sits to prove a sage, to teach
Peewee gathered up his proof, reached up to scratch his head
Fell down and hit the ground again

fIREHOUSE
fIREHOUSE


Legend has it that after that stinging rebuke, nobody ever stopped taking Michael Stipe seriously ever aGAIN.

They say this cat Stipe is a bad mother--
SHUT YOUR MOUTH!



[Compliments of Google cache and a very sympathetic Scandinavian music site]

FOR THE SINGER OF REM

"Here's a version of tradition, you can put in your drawer
In the desk where next to your chair's the handle to your door.
Dismantle the door handle. Put the parts into your desk drawer.
Say some words then make a sign. Now open up the drawer:

--The drawer can't tell you more
--Than to deal with the door.

Now you object to objects really meaning more
Than some pathetic, lame aesthetic Stolling Rone is famous for
Push the drawer closed. Grab a firehose.
Point it at the door,
Get it all wet, remember, forget
What rock & roll is for.

--The drawer can't tell you more
--Than to deal with the door.

Now you're fishing for a mission way beyond the door.
First you're dreamin', next you're schemin', searching through your drawer
For an oar for your trip bound for yet uncharted shores,
Over-reaching, find me spieling. Cataloging doors.
The door's a symbol for these objects in your drawer."

A still finer transcript.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 3:11 AM Post #11 of 19

VicAjax

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Quote:

Originally Posted by catachresis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Do you remember Son-of-Minutemen fIREHOSE's "For the Singer of REM" with all the risibly symbolic lyrics? I always figured that the the ultimate line's "The door's a symbol for/ these objects in your drawer" was actually suggesting "The door's a symbol for/ this object in your drawers."


do i 'member? member?
now it's just me & you, singin' songs about... Madonna!

here's a couple things about mINUTEHOSE...
1) i saw Minutemen open for R.E.M. on the Fables of the Reconstruction tour!
2) i'm one of the few (only) people who actually prefers fIREHOSE to Minutemen. i freakin' love them. i had the bumpersticker on my car and the poster on my wall.
3) on the cover of If'n is a photo of the guys from Hüsker Dü, my alltime favorite band of my adolescence.

nuff of that ***, George.

Quote:

Wheee! Well, with all the panache that you would expect, Mikey responded in Document with one of those throw-away numbers, "Oddfellows Local 151"

Oddfellows Local 151 behind the fIREHOUSE
Where Peewee sits to prove a sage, to teach
Peewee gathered up his proof, reached up to scratch his head
Fell down and hit the ground again

fIREHOUSE
fIREHOUSE


Legend has it that after that stinging rebuke, nobody ever stopped taking Michael Stipe seriously ever aGAIN.

They say this cat Stipe is a bad mother--
SHUT YOUR MOUTH!



[Compliments of Google cache and a very sympathetic Scandinavian music site]

FOR THE SINGER OF REM

"Here's a version of tradition, you can put in your drawer
In the desk where next to your chair's the handle to your door.
Dismantle the door handle. Put the parts into your desk drawer.
Say some words then make a sign. Now open up the drawer:

--The drawer can't tell you more
--Than to deal with the door.

Now you object to objects really meaning more
Than some pathetic, lame aesthetic Stolling Rone is famous for
Push the drawer closed. Grab a firehose.
Point it at the door,
Get it all wet, remember, forget
What rock & roll is for.

--The drawer can't tell you more
--Than to deal with the door.

Now you're fishing for a mission way beyond the door.
First you're dreamin', next you're schemin', searching through your drawer
For an oar for your trip bound for yet uncharted shores,
Over-reaching, find me spieling. Cataloging doors.
The door's a symbol for these objects in your drawer."

A still finer transcript.


Mike Watt is an unparalleled spieler (i'm pretty sure eD fROMOHIO didn't pen that)
and Stipe was most definitely better when you couldn't understand what the hell he was singing.

still, i do think "Oddfellows Local 151" is one of the better songs from Document.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 3:40 AM Post #12 of 19

catachresis

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Quote:

Mike Watt is an unparalleled spieler.
and Stipe was most definitely better when you couldn't understand what the hell he was singing.

still, i do think "Oddfellows Local 151" is one of the better songs from Document.


You're too cool for school, Vic. I actually dug fIREHOSE more than the Minutemen too, but I wasn't a big Minutemen fan. Ragin' Full On is a beast of an album, and that's what I'm gonna hunt up on Ebay right now. "Chemical Wire" is like pissing on an electric fence! Nobody remembers Fugazi's "Repeater" any more! Who are those Green Day people! What's wrong with these kids today!

. . . and thanks to my Donepezil prescription, I do 'member singin' songs about MADONNA!

But that was 1987, way back before we fully understood her importance to the cultural epoch. Nobody fully realized back then that she was in fact the female Don McLean.

And I'm a huge Husker Du fan too. Hell, I started liking them back in '85 before I even knew them, and I only liked them 'cause bigger guys than me in the dorm liked them.

My little sister came up to Montreal from BARD, and my whole floor went to the Montreal show they put on The Living End. The bad news is that she has this uncanny knack of killing every band she's ever seen in concert, so that was kaputz for HD. The good news is that she and I caught the Grateful Dead touring in 1995.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 2:02 PM Post #15 of 19

sno1man

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Murmur is not my favorite REM album, Fables Of The Reconstruction is.

But, that is one album that when you put it on you get a universal "i love that album" response.

And you get people singing/mumbling along with Pilgrimage- If you ask them what the song's about you get lots of 'um ah, well"

Songs like that also help me understand how somebody who speaks a different language could still love american rock.

It's all about the feel........
 

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