|R.E.M.'s Reckoning Cover|
I have to confess that the band was never one of my favorites, although for my kids, especially my daughter Tanya, the oldest, this was one of those bands around in your most formative years. Like the '60s bands--Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks--were for my generation. And as far as I'm concerned, R.E.M.'s best work was their earliest work. Murmur, Life's Rich Pageant, Fables of the Reconstruction, Reckoning, Document. I had all of these albums on cassette tape*, and I can remember playing them quite a bit. By the time the band had moved into the '90s, I wasn't listening to them much anymore. I just didn't think their stuff nearly as good as the early years. This isn't unusual, by the way. It's true of most rock bands. Which is to say, relatively short-lived bands and highly influential bands such as the Beatles, Nirvana, The New York Dolls, and The Velvet Underground die before their creative juices start to atrophy. They don't have bad albums to drag around as part of their history. Alas, that can never be said of groups that last thirty years. Nonetheless, it's always sad to witness the demise of something once great.