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The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

18

'Murmur'


R.E.M.
Courtesy I.R.S. Records
18/100

R.E.M.
I.R.S. 1983

"We wanted to have this kind of timeless record," guitarist Peter Buck said of R.E.M.'s debut, and this "technically limited" band (according to producer Don Dixon) did just that. Buck was a rock scholar who had worked in a record store; singer Michael Stipe unspooled his lyrics as if they constituted some new secret language. Murmur is full of ringing guitar and mystery. The lyrics and the melodies seem buried, almost subliminal, and even the songs with something approximating hooks, such as "Radio Free Europe" and "Sitting Still," resist clarity. Murmur was a founding document of alternative rock, released just as Gen X was heading off to college.


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