Saturday , September 26 2020

R.E.M. – Murmur

The start of another tour, last night’s concert webcast, and the forthcoming R.E.M. greatest hits (from the Warner Brothers years only – ’88-03) remind me that the band has never made music I want to hear more than their very first full-length album, Murmur

Murmur is still the group’s defining moment. The album emerges from an unexpected hole in the musical fabric awash in guitars, mind-clinging melodies and mysterioso lyrics about two-headed cows and moral kiosks.

The subtle but astonishing production by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter moves Michael Stipe’s phlegmatic vocals in and out of the forefront of the mix (“Radio Free Europe,” “Pilgrimage”), using echo and muffling effects to generate emotional movement independent of the intelligibility of the lyrics.

The production encompasses murk and a contradictory brightness that intertwine with yin/yang totality. The more explicit the band has become in sound and theme, the less it has interested me.

A great album creates its own world, a world you don’t want to leave. R.E.M made such a world twenty years ago and has only been able to muster satellites and moons ever since.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected],, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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