Music Monday: Murmur by R.E.M.

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 23/250

R.E.M._-_MurmurTitle: Murmur
Artist: R.E.M.
Year: 1983
Position: #62

I am in the very privileged position to have seen R.E.M. live in concert before their unexpected split a few years ago. In fact, it was during their final tour, supporting their penultimate album Accelerate, where I saw them supported by Guillemots and Editors at Twickenham. I will always remember a bit when he dedicated a song to all the redheads in the audience and everyone surrounding me briefly stared in my general direction. As someone who has had bottles thrown at me for having red hair… it made me feel special.

Since I really enjoyed the gig, and all the R.E.M. I had on my iPod was Automatic From The People and a greatest hits compilation I decided I would further explore the back catalogue which is how I got to the first time I ever played Murmur. Since it did not really have much in common with the music I listened to I pretty much abandoned this album but never actually deleted since I figured that one day I would probably grow into it. Seeing how I eventually grew into Radiohead this was not a bad idea.

Of course I had no idea when I first listened to Murmur how important an album it was (for a very well written explanation behind this see this review on Popmatters) and that in an era where punk had died and there was a bit of a creative vacuum in the music industry R.E.M. emerged from a growing scene and shaped it in a big way. It helps that with Murmur they were able to do so with an album with tracks like ‘Radio Free Europe’.

Since Automatic For The People is also on this list, and is 16 places higher, I will probably go more into R.E.M. specifics then (especially since it is my favourite album of theirs) but I will leave this write-up of Murmur with the following note: it is one of those debuts that definitely spells out what is to come for their career. It’s just… not an album that did it for me completely after a number of playthroughs.

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