1983: “Murmur” – R.E.M


I first got into R.E.M in 1991 around the release of Out Of Time. I used to watch the Saturday morning TV programme The Chart Show every week, and this is where I first saw the music videos to “Losing My Religion”, “Shiny Happy People” and “Near Wild Heaven”. At the time, this programme seemed like just another music show, but looking back it was really eclectic. As well as the usual pop videos of the time, it would feature stuff they thought was up and coming in all genres and once every week there would be a specialist chart of either indie, rock, or dance. I think I had my first exposure to a lot of indie bands from watching it.
My parents got a copy of “Out Of Time” on tape from another family member but I think I played it more than them.

It took me a while to go backwards with R.E.M , although I got on the forward train from that point onwards. Obviously the following year’s “Automatic For The People” was the album where they exploded in the UK but I (and I’m sure many other fans of that album ) knew nothing of their long indie career up ’til that point. I dipped a toe into the back catalogue with the odd older song but It took me until about 1996 and “New Adventures In Hi-Fi” coming out to fully investigate the first 6 albums.
When I did I wondered what the Hell I’d been playing at as they were clearly amazing.

“Murmur” is getting featured in this list because it’s the album I keep going back to. Along with “Life’s Rich Pageant”. I like that you can hear the freshness and naivety in them at the time before the superstardom kicked in and Stipe went icon eccentric. It’s just great songs.
It’s a shame that they carried on after New adventures when Bill Berry left because as much as I tried to like each subsequent record it was pretty clear that it was downhill from that point on. I think Berry must have had a lot to do with quality control.

I could pick any track for singling out from Murmur but I’m selecting “Radio Free Europe”. It opens the album and I think it’s a good track to represent it. I can’t believe this was actually going on in ’83 when i was just starting my first year of proper school and listening to “My Naughty Little Sister” stories in Mr’s Yallop’s class. I think I still only had ears for “Thriller” at the time.


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