Rock ballads are the songs you play after the night has burned itself out. Soft music takes you down from the party, filling the dawn's empty breathing space with forgiving beauty. "As the sun comes up, as the moon goes down, these heavy notions creep around," sings Michael Stipe in "Walk Unafraid," one of the fourteen rock ballads (plus a lone rocker, "Lotus") that comprise Up, R.E.M.'s first album since the departure of drummer Bill Berry. The whole record is cast in that reverse twilight. It is a look back and a dream forward from the... Read More
greatest rock-ballad band that ever existed, a group whose fast songs even made you think slow, the one that made introspection not just a sideline but the whole game.
The pulsing drum machine that opens Up hints at what skeptics may have feared: The Berry-less (but not entirely drummerless) R.E.M. may have bought a floor ticket to music's latest overplayed trend, electronica. But the mellotron, harpsichord and other groovy effects on Up never overwhelm the band's mighty sense of self. Peter Buck and Mike Mills approach the synthetic-pop landscape just as they did the thief's playground of rock & roll; they combine mostly vintage influences here easy listening and 1960s pop within elegant song structures designed to complement Stipe's pensive phrasing and the band's penchant for graceful flourishes. Always more intense when laying back than when rocking out, R.E.M. find their confidence on Up by taking it slow.
Don't be misled by the reflective mood Up still brims with the tricky convolutions that have made R.E.M. the obsession of dorm-room interpreters since Stipe slurred his way through Chronic Town in 1982. Fans will get a big shock when they open the booklet and actually see their egghead hero's full lyrics printed for the first time with an album. But careful reading doesn't reveal Stipe's verses to be more direct than usual; he has long included sharp character analyses and urban hymns alongside the stuff that seems like automatic writing. He still dignifies the latter with doozies like "The tectonic dispatcher shifts to smooth the ocean floor" and "I'll be pounce pony." Whatever, Michael. The leap that R.E.M. do make has to do with focus. Like 1992's Automatic for the People, Up seeks a unified mood, but its scope is broader than that collection of elegies. Stipe unites each narrative from love songs to courtroom confessions to self-declarations and exercises in empathy by pursuing an overarching theme: the sometimes mystical, sometimes desperate solitude enforced by the crowded anonymity of modern life.
"I read bad poetry into your machine," Stipe sings in "At My Most Beautiful," a surprisingly direct love song with a hidden undertow. The machine helps Michael reach his beloved, but it also signifies their separation. Many songs on Up chronicle such moments of isolation-induced intimacy. Th
CD Track List
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Upload - live 1998 (1998)
1. Losing My Religion (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
2. Lotus (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
3. New Test Leper (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
4. Daysleeper (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
5. Introductions (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
6. Electrolite (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
7. At My Most Beautiful (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
8. The Apologist (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
9. Southern Central Rain /i'm Sorry (stockholm, 9th November 1998
11. Walk Unafraid (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
12. Man On The Moon (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
13. I'm Not Over You (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
14. Fall On Me (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
15. Interlude (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
16. Parakeet (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
17. Perfect Circle (stockholm, 9th November 1998)
Track lists are from a 3rd party source.
Items below can and will differ.