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R.E.M.: Fables of the Reconstruction

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (p.109) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[V]ague, spellbinding music that floats in the space between history and memory."

Entertainment Weekly (p.115) - "R.E.M. doubled down on death, darkness, and Southern gothic mystery for their third record, a haunting collection of Americana tales." -- Grade: A

Alternative Press (7/95, p.88) - Ranked #88 in AP's list of the `Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION follow[s] the also moody and sublime RECKONING with its dark, backwoods wanderlust and a labyrinth of lyrics woven through banjo, cello and violin....FABLES [is] like a dark cloud in the band's discography: Full of stormy rhythm, trademark guitar jangling and box-car philosophy..."

CMJ (1/5/04, p.16) - Ranked #4 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1985"

Mojo (Publisher) (p.113) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[The] tension between rock kineticism and hermetic atmosphere makes FABLES... continue to ring loud and clear."

NME (Magazine) (9/6/97, p.53) - "...FABLES... is both REM's most impenetrable and fulfilling release to date....FABLES... is...etched with paranoia, slooooowly-strangled guitars and...the sound of four young Athenians who were neither shiny nor happy.

Pitchfork (Website) - "[A] great and inspired album....FABLES is a dark and murky set with a textural palette close to the muted earth tones of its packaging."

Uncut (magazine) (p.107) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here are hymns to a vanishing America like impressionistic travelogue 'Driver 8'..."

Album Notes

R.E.M.: Michael Stipe (vocals); Peter Buck (guitar); Mike Mills (bass, vocals); Bill Berry (drums).

Additional personnel: Camilla Brunt, Phillipa Ibbotson (violin); David Newby (cello); Pete Thomas (tenor saxophone); David Bitelli (tenor & baritone saxophones); Jim Dvorak (trumpet).

Engineers: Jerry Boys, Tony Harris, Barry Clempson.

Recorded at Livingston Studios, London, England in March 1985.

FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION finds R.E.M.'s star rising fast. With major label world domination still comfortably off in the future, the band was still experimenting; their jangly frenetic sound was deepening by fathoms, and Michael Stipe's formless rants were solidifying (his diction was improving, too, which only served to clarify his prodigious poetic gift). The album featured some of the group's most solid pop songcraft to date, as well as some pretty heady meandering ("Feeling Gravity's Pull").

FABLES produced some important hits for the group at this crucial juncture of its career. Radio staples like "Driver 8" kept them popular with the increasingly important college crowd (heretofore their bread and butter), while the crisp, jumpy and irresistibly catchy "Can't Get There From Here" brought them to a new level on the now-essential music video playlists. Diehard fans, however, were drawn to some quintessential R.E.M. moments--the overlapping vocals of "Maps And Legends" and the wistful, soaring "Wendel Gee," the album's real gem, a disarming, dreamy, instant classic.


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