Eponymous is essentially a singles collection from R.E.M.’s first five albums for I.R.S. Fortunately, it doesn’t come across as a contractual arrangement, or a desperate attempt by the record company to grab more royalties, but a worthy and worthwhile addition to R.E.M.’s back catalogue. I used to own this on cassette, with this particular vinyl LP being bought by my R.E.M.-loving wife at an Utrecht Record Fair a couple of years ago.
The record takes us on a southern dirt-road journey of the band’s development from folk-rock to pop-rock, ending with three songs from Document which is when they started to get mainstream radio play and be known outside of their home state of Georgia, USA.
Document is the album that introduced me to R.E.M and I recall seeing the video to The One I Love around the time I was doing my A Levels. Favourites on here are the opener, Radio Free Europe, So, Central Rain, Driver 8, Fall on Me and the three gleaned from Document: The One I Love, Finest Worksong and It’s The End of The World As We Know it (And I Feel Fine) which, back in the arse-end of the 1980s, felt like an accurate description of the looming fin de siècle angst. Little did we know that the Millennium would not bring the miracle of peace or technological marvels that we’d been promised.
Fortunately we had R.E.M.’s ever-changing musical moods and modes of expression to see us through the naughty nineties and into the nihilistic noughties. But this is where they began.
Best Bits: Stipe’s existential cry of ‘Fire’ from The One I Love
Genre: Indie Folk Rock
Like This, Try This: Airbrushing your face to look as perfectly beautiful as Michael Stipe on the back cover