Ah 'Out of Time'. The one with the hits on it. But also one of REM's bleaker albums. Like the preceding 'Green' it is a mix and match between upbeat pop '(err 'Shiny Happy People') and slower dirge-like composition that paved the way for their mid-career near masterpiece 'Automatic For the People'. Despite the odd stinker (what was 'Radio Song' all about?) 'Out Of Time' is a lovely shimmering album full of poetic grace. This re-issue comes complete with bonus 'demo' version of the album and B sides/outtakes etc.
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General consensus always seems to be that R.E.M's worst song is 'Shiny Happy People' but for me it has always been 'Radio Song'. A desperate hybrid of rap and rock and novelty pop that should have been strangled at birth. What a shame that this abomination kicks off this otherwise splendid record. The only positive about it opening up is that you can easily skip to track two and imagine how the album should have sounded.
That second track is nothing much really it's just 'LOSING MY FUCKING RELIGION' which of course is one of their most successful songs despite Dave Lee Travis's shrewd initial warnings after hearing it. "Their career," he predicted, "is over." Perhaps if they'd released 'Low' as a single instead he could have been right. It's a brilliant miserable drone of a song that sounds like a severely depressed Young Marble Giants. From thereon in the album carries on it's schizophrenic theme. Happy ('Near Wild Heaven'), Sad ('End Game'). Stupidly pleased with itself ('Shiny Happy People') seemingly at deaths door ('Belong'), stupendously brilliant ('Half a World Away') failing at Springsteen-esque rock ('Texakarna') before one of their true watermarks of greatness 'Country Feedback' and weirdly inconsequential but enjoyable closer 'Me in Honey'.
'Out of Time' isn't one of my favourite R.E.M. albums but I still love it like I would one of my own children. It's charms outweigh the occasional mis-step and now with loads of bonus demos and live tracks and B sides and what have you it has become a massive big Dad Christmas Present-ready box.
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