R.E.M. – Green.

When Husker Du essentially flopped for Warner Brothers, the label went again with alternative American College Radio music. The result has always irked me a little, (really, just a little) and the labels next investment paid back  the labels faith in spades.

R.E.M. are a band that it’s hard for anyone to not like. Like, is the right word (eons before Facebook bastardised the word) . I’d be a little worried by people who love the band but they clearly have real appeal. They are great real musicians. The music is earnest and at times very heartfelt.

Green R.E.M’s 6th album saw a band mature and rise to the major label challenge. Labels are not really important but the pressure must have been there. Warner Brothers, from my experience working in an independent record shop, are like the Rolls-Royce of record labels. The label managed itself differently to the other giants and despite its financial clout acted in unpredictable and, dare I say it, rock n’ roll ways.

Husker Du folded under that pressure but, for me, are massively superior to R.E.M. That’s not to knock R.E.M, why would I? Husker Du like many artists and people paved the way for others to follow. Nirvana, The Pixies and in some ways R.E.M. owe a lot to that under rated band from Minneapolis.

Green peaked at Number 28 in the album charts in late 1988. It spawned low charting alt/pop classics Stand and the simply charming Orange Crush (sounding like Nirvana would in 1991, albeit one that had been neutered, but not necessarily worse). This is only a small half of the story. In the States the album went double platinum. The band crossed over. Totally.

The immediate following albums  to Green, Out Of Time and Automatic For The People really did achieve what Husker Du, in a perfect paradise universe, could have. Both are great albums but neither capture the sound of Green. This paragraph makes almost no sense at all. I’m pretty aware of this. It makes sense to me.

Whilst both Zen Arcade and Flip Your Wig (Husker Du) are better surpass, for me all of R.E.M’s output, (and most other bands come to think of it) Green did rise to the challenge. It is a better album than Candy Apple Grey (Husker Du) and in ways those two albums are very kindred.

There are R.E.M. purists out there that cite their really early material as their best. For me, R.E.M. will always be that band that took their opportunity and grew positively with it. They realised their full potential and then almost mocked it with Monster which they were fully aware they’d become…




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