R.E.M. – In Time

R.E.M.There really wasn’t a reason for me to buy In Time (or to give the album it’s full title In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003). I already had every single R.E.M. album, from their debut Murmur (released the year after I was born) all the way to the disapointing Around The Sun. The collection itself is a brilliant CD, collecting all the essential singles that R.E.M. released during their tenure at Warner Brothers (another best of is planned for the preceeding years when the group were on American indie label IRS). All the big hits are present; “Everybody Hurts”, “Losing My Religion”, “Man On The Moon”, “What’s The Frequency Kenneth?” all perfect examples of why R.E.M. became one of the biggest groups of the 90’s. Personally speaking, nothing has ever come close to the impact that “Losing My Religion” had on me. I was ten years old and when I heard this song and it was the first song that ever felt meant something to me, something that I could explain then (or now). It’s almost a shame, as everything that the band’s done since then has had to live up to this one brilliant song.

But thankfully it’s almost been all up to a high standard. The bonus disc that comes with this compilation however wavers between the great and the so-so. R.EM. have had a mountain of singles and therefore a big collection of B-sides. Plus the band have performed numerous cover versions, most of which didn’t make this album. Instead there’s a glut of alternate versions of songs that probably were fine as they were. “Pop Song ’89” looses some of it’s power when performed acoustically, whereas the version of “Star Me Kitten” performed with author William S Burroughs is an oddity and nothing more. Some of the original songs are much better” “Fretless” and “Revolution” being the best too. “Leave” is a suitably haunting track and the bersion of “Why Not Smile?” is much more subdued that it’s album counterpart.

The best track I feel is the live version of “County Feedback”, a song I’ve always felt sounds better performed live, (there’s an excellant cover version of this song on the B-side to the single “At My Most Beautiful”, that was performed on Later: With Jools Holland). Is the bonus disc worth shelling out for? Probably not, unless you’re a completist like me. Better to invest in one of the band’s older albums to get a better history of the group.

R.E.M. – E-Bow The Letter:


  1. stoogy

    E-Bow the Letter – great song from a great album!

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