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R.E.M. - Monster

In 1994, R.E.M. had a band meeting to map out their strategy for the next few years. It was decided unanimously (and especially trumpeted by drummer Bill Berry) that they needed to do two things: record a new, "rock" record, and tour in support of it.

Early preliminary sessions were held in New Orleans (the same city that gave birth to Automatic For The People) where the band recorded upwards of 45 songs that were all potential candidates for making the final project. Rough cuts of the songs were sent to Scott Litt, and preparations were made to record in Atlanta.

Litt encouraged the band to record the basic tracks for the songs live in order to augment the raw sound the band was trying to achieve. (This also assisted them to get used to playing with one another live again, since they hadn't toured since 1989.) The resulting sound of the album is dark, brooding, eerie, and (as they had hoped) raw.

Stipe's vocals are buried somewhat in the mix, something that hadn't been done this heavily since Fables Of The Reconstruction. The lyrics deal largely with paranoia in regards to fame. Fear of fans ("Star 69"), the pain of feeling like a product to sell ("King Of Comedy"), and loss of identity ("I Took Your Name") are all studied, though each time it seems through the eyes of a different character. Stipe seperates himself from the characters he sings about, though he identifies with them.

Monster debuted at number one in the U.S. and the U.K., and the subsequent tour was a huge success. This was to be the last seriously high point for the band for many years.

Monster - 7 out of 10

Once again, a bunch of videos here. . ."What's The Frequency Kenneth?," "Crush With Eyeliner," "Strange Currencies," "Tongue," and "Bang And Blame."


Low Man In Yellow Coat
Then there's this.

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