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R.E.M.'s classic 1983 debut album still stands up today,
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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Murmur - The I.R.S. Years Vintage 1983 (Audio CD)One of the problems with "Eponymous," the 1988 album that is a collection of singles from the first five R.E.M. released on I.R.S., is that it stops a lot of people who jumped on the bandwagon when the Athens group switched to Warner and made it to the top of the music world with their hit "Losing My Religion" from going back and listening to those earlier albums. That would be a mistake, because that would mean missing out on "Murmur," the 1983 album that created R.E.M.'s distinctive sound and which, in retrospect, can be seen as an important album in the history of music as representing the move from post-punk to alternative music. "Murmur" only made it to #178 on the Billboard 200 chart (#36 for the Pop Album version), but this is clearly a case where the tree in the forest most definitely makes a sound, regardless of the number of people there to hear it. Remember that "Rolling Stone" named "Murmur" the best album of 1983, which was the year of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Police's "Synchronicity."
R.E.M. was formed in Athens, Georgia in 1980, originally playing under the name Twisted Kite and performing garage rock covers and original folk-rock songs. "Radio Free Europe," their first single, was recorded in 1981, released on the tiny Hib Tone label, and showed that all of the pieces that would becoming familiar, the jangle pop sound and cryptic lyrics, were already in place: you cannot help singing along with the chorus even if you have no clue what the rest of Michael Stipe's lyrics are saying. The single topped the "Village Voice" poll for Best Independent Single, and landed the group the I.R.S. contract. After an EP, "Chronic Town," the full-length "Murmur" constituted the group's debut album. While there is not another track as solid as "Radio Free Europe" on the album, the rest of the songs are clearly in that vein.
The songs on "Murmur" have an atmospheric quality that is quite distinctive, although you can certainly see strong folk-rock, post-punk, and garage-rock elements throughout, although what R.E.M. does with those elements is unique as well. "Talk About the Passion" is the other signature song from the album, and a prime example of how Stipe's lyrics attain great depth by refusing to be pinned down (although having some lyrics in French is adding insult to injury for those of us who always have trouble understanding what exactly he is singing). "Catapult" is a good example of what a pop song sounds like in R.E.M.'s hands (and the effective way in which bassist Mike Mills often responds to Stipe's vocals in the chorus), with "Pilgrimage" and "Perfect Circle" showing their expanding musical range. This is not to say all of these songs hold up; "Moral Kiosk" sounds rather dated as the exception to the rule. But overall this is a landmark album should end up being one of your favorite R.E.M. albums.