"In Time, 1988-2003"

Reviewed by

Greg Baysans

* * *

aka Poet X

Table of Contents

The Best of R.E.M.

I usually wouldn't count a "Best of" album as belonging to a certain year but, as is getting more and more common, this "best of" includes a song newly released. That song, "Bad Day," is the reason I bought this CD. (The song, I've learned, was written and performed years ago, not recently.)

I've never been a big fan of R.E.M. and didn't know many of these songs other than the unavoidable "Man on the Moon" and the powerful "Losing My Religion" which I did appreciate back in its hey-day in the early 90s.

These songs are growing on me. 

A song I first liked the least, "Orange Crush," is becoming a favorite.

Other favorites are "All the Way to Reno," Nightswimming," and "Electrolite."

"Daysleeper" has been coming to mind because I'm currently a daysleeper. (Problem is when I sing it in my reverie, it's to the tune of "Nightswimming.")

Eighteen songs in all, there's a lot to take in for someone as unfamiliar with R.E.M. as I am.

I'm finding myself surprised that I've not been a fan longer. The songs have an intelligence that exceeds most of its contemporaries ("What's the Frequency, Kenneth"). 

Here's the scary part: I was reminded of my own poetry: is it really intelligent or is a sort of put-on, a pose? And: when it tries the least, it achieves the best ("Stand").

I thought "Bad Day" was written just before I heard first heard it in November, 2003. Oh, well. It led to a new appreciation of a great musical output, that of Michael Stipe and crew.

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