If a band is fortunate during their career, they are able to put together one album that is as a classic in their respective genre, or better yet, jumpstart an entirely new style or sound. R.E.M. did all that. Automatic For The People was their creative climax and Warner Brothers does this 1992 rock classic justice with a CD and DVD-A package (5.1-surround sound) and a revealing documentary on the recording.
R.E.M. music gets under your skin, it may take a few listens but it works on you. Listening to “Drive” and “Man On the Moon” brings you back to that particular place and time in your life when you first heard these songs. This album made history in many ways including inspiring the Andy Kaufman movie “Man On the Moon.” When an album receives an honor such as being associated with a recognized film, it is a lifetime achievement and watermark in a career that all artists hope to attain.
I found the documentary on the DVD-A very interesting. They did an interview with the restaurant owner that has the slogan “Automatic for the People” on his sign outside the establishment. The band looked at that sign one day decided that they loved it, hence the name for the recording. Personally, I did not know the story behind the music so it was very entertaining. The band’s personal notes and commentary regarding the recording process was most absorbing. It is always interesting to hear what the creator of the music has to say, it is so different from your own perspective. When each individual listens to music it becomes his or her own story and it adapts in some way to a current or past life situation. That is what great music does for you and why you remember it.
After listening to the album five times I felt I did not have enough, there was more to uncover in the music and words. The sound is crisp and clear, the most brilliant you will ever hear this music. The one track that really stuck with me and pulled on my heartstrings was “Everybody Hurts,” it is a very emotive and true to life song. The mood of the entire album is pensive, political, sad…all of that rolled into a package that sent a message to their listeners, and it all rings true to this very day. The liner notes are superlative, they put every track and the atmosphere of the entire project in perspective, and very eloquently.
Is this one of the greatest rock albums of all time? After listening to this version and hearing every subtle nuance, the gorgeous strings arranged by John Paul Jones, and the tremendous song craft and musicianship, I believe this to be true.
February 25, 2005
02. Try Not To Breathe
03. The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite
04. Everybody Hurts
05. New Orleans Instrumental No.1
06. Sweetness Follows
07. Monty Got A Raw Deal
09. Star Me Kitten
10. Man On The Moon
12. Find The River
Video Documentary, Photo Gallery, Discography, Web Link