In the space of six years, R.E.M. had achieved something very few bands do. They made it, and did it all on their own terms. Nobody could have imagined just how much further they would go next, when they signed with Warner Bros. Records.
There is no question that they made some great records with Warner Bros., and for a time R.E.M. were one of the biggest bands on the planet. I remain partial to chapter one of their saga however. The five albums they recorded for I.R.S. between 1982 - 1987 are the ones I always seem to go back to. R.E.M. seem to have left I.R.S. amicably, and were reportedly advised to take the Warner offer by Miles Copeland himself, who knew he could not match it.
Between Lifes Rich Pageant and Document, I.R.S. released Dead Letter Office, which compiled B-sides, outtakes and rarities, along with the full Chronic Town EP. When the band moved over to Warners, I.R.S. released the amusingly titled Eponymous, a 12 track greatest hits set featuring a couple of rarities.
Eponymous stood for years as R.E.M.’s only hits collection from their I.R.S. era, until And I Feel Fine…The Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982 -1987 came out in 2006. The single CD package contains 19 excellent songs from R.E.M.’s five albums for the label, and some fascinating liner notes from Rolling Stone editor Anthony DeCurtis. There is not a wasted cut on I Feel Fine, and it works as a great introduction for latter day fans to one of the crucial bands of the past 30 years.