I bought Monster when it came out in 1994. I listened once and then let it collect dust. I did not get it. Well, now I have another opportunity to understand this phenomenal band and this outstanding album. Believe me, R.E.M. is not a cut and dried band nor is their sound. This particularly album rocks down the house, just as the band said it would in the documentary of the Automatic For The People set.
It took around three listens to get it this time around. I heard diversity in their rockin’ tunes yet a common thread with the sound. The guitar effects very similar to the fuzzy 60s feedback sound that is so prominent on cuts like “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and “Bang and Blame” seem to dominate. “Crush with Eyeliner” is one of the most intense tracks that this band has ever recorded, hands down, then “Tongue” sounds like something Daryl Hall and John Oates would have done. It features the Philadelphia sound and feel. It sounds as if it should have been on an entirely different album; then again, “King of Comedy” is very different, but very good.
I think this is one the bands finest hours, the more I hear this album the more I believe it to be so. This is a brilliant band and it was very smart to re-release all of these albums so a new generation could discover their music and understand how important they were, and continue to be, in the development of modern music.
As the title of the album indicates, R.E.M. was a Monster band at the time. To watch the band play this music on the documentary DVD-A was goose bump time, a taste of what the tour must have been like. I learned that Mike Mills played Kurt Cobain’s guitar on the in tribute to him “Let Me In.” The six-string was a gift from Courtney Cox. I imagine most R.E.M. fans knew this but I am what you would call a late blooming fan at this point, and glad for it. Rock music was at a pinnacle in 1994 because of this album and I did not even know it, at least now I do know.
March 13, 2005
01. What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?
02. Crush with Eyeliner
03. King of Comedy
04. I Don’t Sleep, I Dream
05. Star 69
06. Strange Currencies
08. Bang and Blame
09. I Took Your Name
10. Let Me In
11. Circus Envy