I first heard REM in the early 90's when the singles from 'Automatic For The People' were impossible to escape. My Mum became very fond of the band and bought a copy of AFTP, which I remember hearing a hell of a lot back then. So basically the music of REM played an important part in my early musical life. A few years on I remember being surprised when I heard the next album 'Monster' which was more hard-edged but had some brilliant songs on, if not as commercial as the tracks from the previous record. The next album 'New Adventures In Hi Fi' sounded a bit odd when my Mum borrowed a CD of it from the library, and the songs certainly not as instant as I had expected them to be. However years on NAIHF sounds wonderful.
It wasn't until about 1998 that I began buying my own REM records, as they released the single 'Daysleeper' and the album 'Up', most of which is a damn good album. An album that I listened to a lot after buying it on cassette from Woolworths (back then some of the new albums were only half the price of the CD) and a record that features one of my favourite love songs of all time, 'At My Most Beautiful'.
The next album 'Reveal' also had some great songs and I recall buying it on its release in 2001. But I didn't really notice the band's 2004 album 'Around The Sun', and although I gave its 2008 follow up 'Accelerate' a few listens, none of it really had that much of an impact on me.
Their final album 'Collapse Into Now' was released earlier this year and saw the band attempting to recreate their old sound in the hope that the quality would be just as good, but despite a handful of excellent tracks ('Discoverer', 'Uberlin', 'Every Day Is Yours To Win') the record was a patchy affair and rather inconsistent in terms of quality. You can read my review of the album here.
The band's split does come as a bit of a surprise, as I thought the band would have carried on forever. It's hard to believe no-one will see this group performing these seminal tracks ever again, but perhaps the band wanted to preserve their legacy as much as they could instead of carrying on and making substandard records. I'm sad to see this band call it a day, but maybe there was nowhere else for them to go musically. Anyway in tribute to a fine group, here are some of my personal favourite REM moments....