My six months in the States was a trip. It opened my eyes, opened my mind and as the months went by I was growing as a person. I came back with a lifetime of memories and I came back wanting more. I also came back with R.E.M’s seventh studio album, Out Of Time. Prior to late ’91 I’d paid little attention to R.E.M. I’d liked the singles Orange Crush, Stand and Get Up, but those previous six albums didn’t get a sniff. But, once I’d got my ears into Out Of Time those earlier albums came thick and fast.
Losing My Religion was a majestic piece of music, and Shiny Happy People was big fun. Both were played to death and by the time my obsession with the album kicked in it was the other tracks I gorged. Out Of Time catapulted R.E.M from cultish indie-rockers to stadium-filling rock stars. It also seemed as their popularity increased so did their credibility. No mean feat. The opposite would apply to their rival of ‘Best Band In The World’ at the time, U2. R.E.M would soon peak with Automatic For The People while U2 went up their own artistic arses with Zooropa.
Out Of Time was a perfectly varied collection of styles and sounds, from vivacious to maudlin the songs made for a brilliantly uneven listen. Country-tinged, immaculately produced and brimming with mandolins, violins and cellos it was another subtle musical invention and catapulted the band to glory and lofty esteem, aided greatly by the anthemic Losing My Religion and their near constant appearances on MTV.
In the early ‘90s Nirvana were massive and the UK chart, post-madchester and pre-britpop was loaded with house, techno, dance and pop cheese. R.E.M didn’t fit in to any new sound or trend; they were instead unique and incomparable. I had an instant soft spot for Mike Mills’ perfect harmonies, and with piercing emotion and sincerity Michael Stipe’s vocals demanded attention. The B-52’s Kate Pierson also worked wonders, particularly on the gorgeous folk-jangle closer, Me In Honey. For six months I binged all things R.E.M. I bought and loved their previous six albums as well as the R.E.M Companion: It Crawled From The South, which accompanied me on my next adventure. France.