Tuesday, March 25, 2008

R.E.M. and Free Will

R.E.M. will be releasing a new studio album, Accelerate, in less than a week, and I not only wonder if I should buy it, but whether I can actually choose to buy it or not. I have not tested the latter question since I first became aware that there was band called R.E.M. with albums for sale, and that was either 1986 or 1987. So very long ago!

Despite my longstanding fan-dom, they've done a poor job of reaching me with the news of the new album, of which I've only heard despite there having been a promotional web site established for it as far back as February. So very long ago!

The promotional site is moderately annoying, as most promotional web sites tend to be, but the music it promotes fails to suck, and that's a very good thing. R.E.M. hasn't made an album that failed to suck since 1992's Automatic for the People (so long ago!), although subsequent releases have had their high points. It was, after all, the tour in support of 1994's not-half-bad Monster that brought me into meaningful contact with Sonic Youth for the first time so very long ago.

I don't have to buy it. It can stay right there on the shelf. Really.


thepoetryman said...

No. You'll buy it. R.E.M. is/are great... Sonic Youth is cool, too. Of course you know this.

Martin R. said...

Dale, I'm suffering under the same quandary. I too have become aware of the imminent release of this album and have read previews that suggests a "return to form". Such a return to form is, as you suggest, something that has been due for some time now. In some ways I do not want to buy this album to demonstrate that I have learned from previous false dawns. But I know I will buy it. I will probably buy it even if the reviews suggest that it is a mediocre affair. The reason I will buy it is some mad completist impulse that drives me to make such purchases. I don't know whether this is a male thing or just a me thing. If I come across an album I like, I feel compelled to purchase the entire back catalogue of the artist and each new release unless they do something really unforgivable (like have Maria Carey guest on a track, or release an album of Country and Western covers).

When I stumble on a band who are less than prolific (Lights Out Asia being a recent example) I am both delighted that I won't have to spend more than I should purchasing a dozen albums or more and, at the same time, disappointed that there is no back catalogue to paw over - no real collection to complete. There is no logic at work here.

Dale said...

Martin, poetryman, you have seen my affliction. I can't hide nor deny. R.E.M. is too deeply woven into what I take myself to be as a music fan -- fortunately there aren't many at their level, the Total Sucker level.

Martin, I do the same as you describe, although less so now than in days past. These days I tend to take a little more time finding less expensive ways to validate the back catalog before emptying the piggy bank.

Domestically Challenged said...

I had NO idea! I'm not sure if I will buy it, but I probably will. REM is one of my ALL TIME fave bands but I have had difficulty accepting them in their more recent work.... like, anything past Green... and maybe even Green. Of course there are songs I love here and there on every album, but they seem to have moved so far away from the political band I fell in love with back in the 80's.

I almost wrote off my other ALL TIME fave band, U2, in the same way, for the same reasons, and I'm so glad I didn't because I really loved Atomic Bomb. It's like they finally figured out how to morph their more modern sound into the political messages of yesteryear. They are back on my A-List.

I can only hope REM will follow suite!