In October of 1981 a band emerged from Drive-In Studio in Winston-Salem, N.C. with an album that would start a long and winding career of brilliance. The album was Chronic Town, the band was REM, and the victor in this story is of course the music-listening public. I am by no means an REM fanatic. I only own four of their 13 albums. I started my love for them with New Adventures in Hi-fi, which I still say is their best album.
Naturally, I find the other three albums that I own (Monster, Up, and Reveal) basically big disappointments. I know that I do not own their best albums, like Document and Automatic for the People. So when In Time arrived in the mail I was excited to experience the best of REM.
REM just released their greatest hits album, In Time, and can I just say, “Where have I been? Why did I not notice the fact that REM is one of the greatest bands of all time?”
In Time compiles 19 tracks from 1988-2003; sadly, nothing before they signed to Warner Brothers is found on this disc. Yeah, that means no “It’s the End of the World as We Know It…”, “Driver 8,” “Radio Free Europe,” or “Finest Work Song.”
This album shows why REM is an American treasure. They can rock it on “Orange Crush” and then turn into the Beach Boys with “At My Most Beautiful.” Every song sounds unlike its predecessor.
In Time shows how they have grown (for better or for worse) over the years. From the extremely sucrose “Stand” from Green to their newest single “Bad Day,” we hear a band who knows how to write a killer pop song. The only misstep on this disc is another new song called “Animal;” sorry, but it just doesn’t live up to other classics.
I bought the limited edition, which features a booklet where Peter Buck gives killer linear notes about every song. The limited edition also features a bonus disc full of acoustic versions of songs, live versions, and b-sides. Highlights from that disc are “Leave (alt. version)” and the amazing “Country Feedback (live).”
Just go get the album, or their others. You won’t be disappointed. Trust me; you need this so bad.