Wednesday, November 23, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: R.E.M. - PART LIES PART HEART PART TRUTH PART GARBAGE 1982 - 2011
Nowhere is that more obvious that this new double-disc best-of. Once we get past New Adventures In Hi-Fi, and Berry's departure, the best cuts are either an old number revived for a previous hits compilation (Bad Day) or Peter Buck's Brian Wilson tribute (At My Most Beautiful). And if you can name any other tracks from their later albums, kudos my friend, you're one of the rare fans.
So now that the retirement is official, we can all breath properly again, and pay homage to the first half of the band's career, without feeling guilty and disloyal. Two-thirds of the tracks come from those days, and it's so easy to pick 'em, they fall off the discs like the biggest, juiciest apples. Radio Free Europe, Driver 8, Fall One Me, It's The End Of The World As We Know It, The One I Love, Stand, Losing My Religion, Shiny Happy People, Everybody Hurts, Man On The Moon, What's The Frequency, Kenneth?, what a streak. Like The Rolling Stones, we don't think of them as a singles band, but they sure knew how to make 'em. Maybe that's what happened to this band in the end, they just lost the ability to distill it in three minutes.
For the buyer, this set offers three final attempts, recorded this year in aborted sessions for another ill-conceived album. And once again, none of them has any energy or spark to burn them to your memory. It's as strong a two-disc set as you'll get otherwise, with all the must-own's here, and for the first time, the early I.R.S. years are compiled alongside the Warner material. A rare song or two might have sweetened the pot, but that would have meant further reductions from the latter part of the career, perhaps an even bigger embarrassment for the band. They probably should have either packed it in earlier, or embraced live touring as their future, but at least they tried. What each member does next should proof very interesting.