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In Time: The Best of 1988 - 2003: REM

Review: Jack Foley

REM have that terrific ability to write songs that can be tremendously happy, or achingly poignant.

Try listening to current single, Bad Day, with its deliriously happy, sing-along sentiment, swiftly followed by the pensive Everybody Hurts to see what I mean.

Michael Stipe's skill lies in his ability to be able to mix his styles, so that REM never become too pigeon-holed under one category.

The period from 1988 to 2003 can easily described as their purple patch, incorporating, as it does, the breathtaking brilliance of tracks such as Losing My Religion, with equally memorable tracks such as the aforementioned Everybody Hurts, off the seminal Automatic for the People long-player.

The best of, needless to say, provides a compelling reason why REM have enjoyed such longevity. They know how to write songs which hang in the memory for all the right reasons.

What's more, they know how to write songs that demand you to sing along to them. Try listening to The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight, The Great Beyond (with its glorious, 'I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs' lyric) or even Bad Day without wanting to join in with the odd chorus, or two.

Even in more experimental moments, taken from lesser successful albums, REM still possess that ability to conjure the odd great.

Monster, for instance, won't go down as a classic album, yet What's The Frequency, Kenneth?, with its striking guitars, probably rates as one of the band's best efforts to date.

Likewise, tracks such as Day Sleeper or Night Swimming emerge from lesser-known albums with all the breathtaking beauty of classic REM.

The fans will, no doubt, leap at the chance of owning all the classics on one compilation, while anyone who has ever found themselves hooked by a Stipe melody, ought to treat themselves, too.

REM, like U2 last year, are one of those bands that should find a place into everyone's record collections; and this greatest hits compendium is an excellent reason to make sure that they do.

Track listing:
1. Man on the Moon
2. The Great Beyond [from Man on the Moon soundtrack]
3. Bad Day [previously unreleased]
4. What's The Frequency, Kenneth?
5. All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)
6. Losing My Religion
7. E-Bow The Letter
8. Orange Crush
9. Imitation of Life
10. Daysleeper
11. Animal [previously unreleased]
12. The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
13. Stand
14. Electrolite
15. All The Right Friends [from Vanilla Sky soundtrack]
16. Everybody Hurts
17. At My Most Beautiful
18. Nightswimming

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