10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!
Prior to the worldwide reach, R.E.M. had with the album Out Of Time and single Losing My Religion in 1991, they had ten years of releasing albums as a part of the American alternative rock scene.
Nirvana’s Nevermind, released the same year as Out Of Time, is often credited with killing off 80s hair metal and glam rock, Nirvana themselves often credit R.E.M as their biggest contemporary influence.
What the two albums released in ‘91 have in common is that they now had proper tunes, whereas previous releases by both bands had all the attitude but no real hits.
Part of this came from the DIY approach with a strong refusal to learn from someone else, just wanting to do it, rather than take advice.
Michael Stipe recalled in an interview with Podcast Broken Record that “it took me two albums to realize that the bass was making the low notes, I was that ignorant of music.”
Give this attitude ten years on the road (the first four in a dodge van) and things change. In the same interview, Michael claims that it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
During the 80s, they released six full-length studio albums but only had one minor hit in ‘87 with The One I Love.
When R.E.M. released Out Of Time, the band had learned a thing or two about songwriting as this one contained Shiny Happy People, as well as their most successful tune, Losing My Religion. Sonically, it was also a lot more polished.
The follow-up, Automatic For The People proved that this was not done by accident as we now got classics Drive, Man On The Moon, and Everybody Hurts. Paired with the previous album, this made R.EM. one of the biggest bands in the world.
Next, they released a box set containing old recordings and B-sides, perhaps thinking that now that we’re big, people will “get” the earlier recordings.
This was followed by Monster in 1994, only one big tune here in What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?
Their fans say that the next studio album New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996) was their last great album, personally, I have to quote the old A&R man saying “I don’t hear a single”.
Perhaps by now, they didn’t need it. The catalog of hits was so big R.E.M. would spend the next decade and a bit moving from stadium to stadium. When they finally parted ways in 2011, they had sold over 85 million albums.
R.E.M | Related pages
Losing My Religion
| Am | Am | Em | Em |
Oh, life is bigger, it’s bigger than you and you are not me.
| Am | Am | Em | Em | Am | Am |
The lengths that I will go to, the distance in your eyes.
Go to Losing My Religion chords.