Music » CD Reviews

R.E.M.

And I Feel Fine . . . The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 (EMI)

by

comment
147017.0.jpeg
Compile the best of R.E.M.'s earliest output on one CD, and it's easy to see why it became one of the biggest bands in the world. A feeling of optimism overwhelmingly pervades Fine, a smartly sequenced collection spanning the years before the band from Athens, Georgia, reached major-label status. R.E.M. had nothing to lose as its members evolved from freewheeling garage-rock poets to influential pop storytellers, unapologetic about their lack of cynicism. Fine underscores this fact with the inclusion of tunes that are strident (a rabble-rousing "Begin the Begin"), winsome (the sepia-toned "Perfect Circle"), and gloriously weird (the disco-funkin' "Can't Get There From Here"). But R.E.M.'s un-self-conscious innocence is most obvious in the way the band infuses even the most melancholy songs with hope. Pretty pop gems dip and soar with jangly riffs, while even the murky "Feeling Gravity's Pull" finds redemption in Michael Stipe's soothing falsetto.

Fine's limited-edition bonus disc of rarities and band members' favorite tracks is an absolute treat for R.E.M. completists and bootleg collectors. Especially choice are the delicate slow-dance version of "Gardening at Night," a gorgeous and haunting demo of "Hyena," and mid-1980s live cuts.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club


Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.


Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.


Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.