I have been wandering back into time in my musical tastes of late; alternative radio and I started haunting college campuses about the same time. Until I left for school, I was a typical mid-western metal-head with the tastes of the times: Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, etc. with a strange fascination for Rhythm and Blues that I picked up after seeing the Blues Brothers movie. Punk was barely on my radar, but I liked some of the stuff that I'd heard and the music scene in Minneapolis at the time was phenomenal. More on this later.
I had a roommate that came into our room one night and declared, "You gotta hear this!" He set down a 6-pack of beer and the new R.E.M. album, Murmur. Fascinated by the sound, we just played the album (real vinyl, kids!) over and over, flipping from one side to the other and back again, marveling in a sound we'd never heard before.
There are few albums that have grabbed me like this has and it still has a pull on me 30 years later. I've been wandering through collections and I've been listening to all the old R.E.M. that I have and thought I'd let you hear what's grabbed my ear as of late:
This TV appearance on the Letterman has crappy sound, but it truly captures the energy of the Hibtone recording of this song. It's a lean, muscular punk version that is nothing like the shoe-staring, dreamy version recorded later for the album.
The other YouTube video from the same Letterman show - South Central Rain, but it didn't have a title at that time. It's funny now, but this song sounds so much like Modern English's I Melt With You:
The last video was a song included on their first compilation album, Dead Letter Office. Ages of You is a sweet little pop song that R.E.M. has apparently tired of, but this song is one that scratches my brain in a happy spot and I include the song in this live video (it's the first of three songs) because it again shows the energy of a young band and their sound at a less placid tempo.