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R.E.M.: Murmur

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone (p.96) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[A]nthemic on a bedroom scale, danceable but not robotic, experimental without being oblique."

Rolling Stone (11/89) - Ranked #8 in Rolling Stone's "100 Best Albums Of The Eighties" survey.

Spin - Included in Spin's list of the Top Ten College Cult Classics - "...an unmitigated delight....spawned the entire breed of what has become known as `college rock'."

Entertainment Weekly (3/26/91) - Rating: A

Alternative Press (8/01, p.112) - Included in AP's "10 Essential '80s Albums" - "...REM made jangling guitars and mumbled lyrics hip again for American youth..."

CMJ (1/5/04, p.12) - Ranked #7 in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1983".

Q (Magazine) (p.120) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "MURMUR promised not so much a new American underground, as an undergrowth, rustling with secrets."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.118) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "MURMUR remains the cornerstone of the R.E.M. legend, the reason they are important....An incredible collection of songs..."

Blender (Magazine) (p.106) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[D]isarmingly beautiful music that mixes '60s folk significance with '80s new-wave ambivalence."

Blender (Magazine) (p.67) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "MURMUR was a friendly ghost -- brooding but elegant, new-wave moody but folk-rock sunny, hesitant but hopeful."

Paste (magazine) (p.60) - "[T]heir sound emerged so fully formed that even after 26 years and 15 proper albums, it's still arguably their best."

Uncut (magazine) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "It is no exaggeration to suggest that MURMUR amounts to a Rosetta Stone for what is now thought of as indie rock..."

Album Notes

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

Additional personnel: Jefferson Holt, Bertis Downs.

Recorded at Reflection, Charlotte, North Carolina in January 1983.

R.E.M.'s full-length debut is a landmark album that set the standard for the next 10 years of indie rock. The Athens quartet combined Byrdsy, folk-rock guitar jangle with obscurantist lyrics and a post-punk compositional sensibility to create a vibrant new sound that would soon be imitated by every high-school poet with a Rickenbacker guitar. R.E.M. was also one of the first bands to make the long, hard journey from college radio (when it was still college radio) to mainstream acceptance, and managed the difficult task of maintaining its integrity at every step along the way.

MURMUR, far from an embryonic debut, shows a fully-formed unit with a strong artistic vision. (It was preceded by two legendary underground releases: The "Radio Free Europe" single--which was re-recorded for MURMUR--and the CHRONIC TOWN EP.) Producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon's lofty reputations would have remained intact even if they had never worked on another record after this one. The gentle-but-insistent arrangements and glorious pop hooks of songs like "Catapult" and "Talk About The Passion" provide the perfect contrast to Michael Stipe's earnest, moody vocal style. Drummer Bill Berry's breathless effervescence provides the perfect backdrop for this album of jumpy, intellectual pop.


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