Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guest Post: Blast from the Past: Monster

The following is a guest post written by my good friend Steve from The Otter Limits. 

Title: Monster (Amazon,, AllMusic, Wikipedia)
Artist: R.E.M. (Official, Facebook, MySpace,, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

R.E.M.s Monster has not left my car's CD player in the last week and I just had to write a review for it.

First some background on the album.

Monster was released by R.E.M. in September 1994 by Warner Brothers. It was produced by Scott Litt, who also produced Document, Green, Out of Time, Automatic for the People, and New Adventures in Hi-Fi (basically all of the really good albums that were released prior to drummer Bill Berry's departure from the band). It was recorded at several studios in New Orleans, Atlanta, and Los Angeles between in April and May of 1994. It reached #1 on the US Billboard 200, as well as #1 on several other record charts worldwide. It has sold almost 3 million copies in the United State alone. It gave us the singles "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" "Bang and Blame" "Strange Currencies" "Crush with Eyeliner" and "Tongue."

This album by far is my favorite R.E.M. album. Sonically, it is a bit different than previous albums (and subsequent albums for that matter). Peter Buck's use of distortion of several other guitar effects stand out quite a bit in this album. It was quite the departure for R.E.M. in my opinion. In fact, in some ways it is kind of like R.E.M.s Achtung Baby (U2's 1991 album) in that is represented a slight change of pace musically for the band.

If I had to choose my favorite songs on the album they would be "What's the Frequency Kenneth?", "Crush with Eyeliner," "I Don't Sleep, I Dream," "Star 69," "Bang and Blame," and "I Took Your Name." But to be completely honest, this entire album is some great candy for the ears. The only song I can in all honesty say that I'm not too fond of would be "King of Comedy" and I can't really say for certain why I don't care for that song. In fact, it isn't that I don't like it, I just consider it the, for lack of a better term, the weakest song on the record.

Overall, however, this is a really strong record and to be completely honest, I think they started going slightly downhill after this. Sure, they had some good songs on the albums that were released after this album, but overall the records weren't anything to jump up and down about.

As I said previously, this is definitely my favorite R.E.M. album and if someone that has never heard any R.E.M. material (are there any people like that left out there?) asked me to suggest some, I would advise them to purchase Monster, Document, and Out of Time, in that order.

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