MURMUR (1983) [Review]
Buck: The most enduring thing is the writing. We had been a bar band for three years. But our songs had become deeper, emotionally and musically.
Mills: I still don’t know all the words. But with a voice as emotive as Michael’s, it didn’t matter.
DOCUMENT (1987) [Review]
Mills: We thought of it as Peter’s record. It’s very guitar-driven.
Buck: When it was done, there was a feeling: “Something’s changed.” We finally made a record people would hear. And it is so 1987. It captured what America was like at the time.
GREEN (1988) [Review]
Stipe: For me, the big moment is “World Leader Pretend.” It’s a tribute to Leonard Cohen, using military terms to describe a battle within. I was so proud of the lyrics and my vocal take that I refused to sing it a second time. I did it once. That was it.
OUT OF TIME (1991) [Review]
Buck: Folk music with a mandolin – we thought, “Oh, that will be real popular.” But this is where we wanted to go. We had been playing 130-200 shows a year. There was more we could do with our lives now. “Country Feedback” – I thought that was a demo. Michael just sang it once. It was a letter he wrote to someone but didn’t send. He just sang it.
MONSTER (1994) [Review]
Buck: I talk to fans all the time who love that record. It was a bit monochromatic. But we wanted to switch around again.
Stipe: We had radio’s attention. So we decided to put out the most fucked-up song – “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” – as the first single.
NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI (1996) [Review]
Buck: As crazy as the 1995 tour was – Bill’s aneurysms, Mike in the hospital, so much weird stuff going on – that album was recorded onstage, at sound check or in a dressing room. If I had to pick just four records of ours that people should hear, that would be one.
ACCELERATE (2008) [Review]
Buck: “We got into a bad habit of spending months in the studio. My feeling was, ‘We are a great live band. Let’s do a great live-band record in the studio.'”
Mills: “We needed faster, shorter guitar-oriented songs. I feel that the people are ready to like R.E.M. again. Part of me feels like it’s 1985 and we’re a brand-new band again.”
[From Issue 1022 — March 22, 2007]