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ALBUM – Murmur

ARTIST – R.E.M

YEAR – 1983

“Like looking for a needle in a haystack”, that’s how we – who were born before then -, describe finding “good” music in the 1980s.  Seems as if the reason for not finding anything during that decade is that we lived through it.  I guess you need some perspective.  I’m pretty sure, nowadays, that this feeling is ubiquitous for all generations.  We hear it all too often, “the 80s sucked”; or, “the 70s sucked”; most commonly spoken “the period immediately before ours was wicked, ours, no matter what decade, sucks.”  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Enough with proverbs and analyses of irrelevant nature.  “Murmur” is that needle; search long and hard enough, you’ll find it.  This album is it.  Can you get any better an album than this?  It’ll be, at least, a gargantuan task.  The simplicity or straight-forwardness of this particular effort is almost too good to be true, or, in a more prejudiced note, from the 1980s.  The period of time in question, with (now) perspective, was a fertile one, musically speaking.  Just listen to this.  Better put “everything sounds just as good, and even as refreshing, two decades later. If any one album were single-handedly responsible for inventing alternative rock, this would be it”, Chris Dahlen writes, from Pitchfork.

I’ve been familiar with R.E.M for quite a while, everything from “Out of Time”(1991) onwards.  So, as you may have put together, I only knew their 90s music, which is also of a superior quality, just not as shocking as this recent discovery.  This is, yet again, one of those albums you must own; one of those you listen from track one ’till the end and replay it, again and again.  It’s a delight, it’s pleasant to listen to.  It’s not too upbeat like “Shiny Happy People” or too much of a downer like some of the material being released at the time.  It’s “just right”.  Kind of like when you cook and the result is above average; you get the essentials right, enough pepper and salt, good quality ingredients, right amount of cooking time, etc.

That sort of spells out this album’s power.  It’s got the right ingredients, right temperature, cooking time and all that is needed to produce an above average – in this case a stand out – piece of work.  “Murmur” is amazing.  I could listen to this all day, every day of the week.  Like other albums mentioned on this blog, this one starts out with a bang and keeps the rhythm all the way through; there’s no back and forth, it’s all good.  All the lyrics, melodies and group effort are dead on.

“Radio Free Europe” kicks off the massively influential album.  Don’t you get a feel for the 80s?  But at the same time, does it not feel very contemporary?  For instance, had you not known it was from 1983, you could easily assume it was from two years ago or even a future release.  I feel that, anyways.  And the wave of euphoria and good music carries itself from track to track.  One of my particular favourites is “Laughing”.  I like the introduction and sweet accoustic guitar.  “9-9” is an anthem.  To top it all off, they re-released “Murmur” in a deluxe edition last year, with extra tracks and a live performance.  Check out some reviews.  Rolling Stone magazine gave them 4 out of 5 stars at the time of release (1983), then, in 2008, with the deluxe edition, they got a 5 out of 5.  Hmmm.  Perspective maybe?

Cheers…

One Comment

  1. Caro,

    Escolha perfeita. Tão logo li seu post, coloquei o álbum para tocar no meu iTunes. “Pilgrimage” rocks.


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