Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I wonder if R.E.M. have tarnished their legend by continuing as a band after drummer Bill Berry left. It seems like every time they put something out, people are so quick to point out that they aren't as good as they used to be.

Fair enough - their albums since Bill left aren't as good as the ones that they recorded while he was still in the band. And of course, bands tend to lose a bit of thier magic after ten years or so.

Still, people seem to attack new R.E.M. releases with a particular venom. As if the band betrayed them or something. The fact that they would release their first live album - but that it was recorded on a recent tour, not during the Bill Berry era - probably doesn't help. I think that the album is pretty solid, though, and highlights the fact that some overlooked songs, like "I Took Your Name," "So Fast, So Numb" and "Final Straw" are, in fact, good songs.

I have to admit, I was hoping that Bill Berry would rejoin the band, at least temporarily, after he performed with them at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year (they also recorded John Lennon's "#9 Dream" for the Instant Karma Amnesty International album). I was bummed when I realized that that wasn't going to happen. Still, I hear that their next album is going to be more rocking. I, for one, look forward to hearing it. I'm looking forward to a great R.E.M. album. But if it isn't a five star deal, I won't take it personally.

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