It’s funny how a song or album can link you to a memory, even a silly one, or something random like eating food.
For example the song ‘Hazard’ by Richard Marx reminds me of a thursday night when my Dad worked late and Mum and I would walk through town, go to the bakery, and buy pasties for tea. I think the song has stuck to this memory as on our way through one evening, we stopped in Woolworth’s and Mum bought the single, then whilst we ate, we played the song a few times. So now Richard Marx singing ‘Hazard’ always reminds me of a quiet night in eating a veggie pasty with Mum after school.
Of course this hasn’t any relevance to the album I’ve chosen, you might say. But this album was also one she would play on those thursday evenings when we had rare access to Dad’s cherished stereo.
When Dad was home, it was often his choice of music and it could be a real battle for Mum and I to hear anything we liked, he was very protective of his five-disk changing c.d system, and I suspect still is.
Anyway, my Mum likes R.E.M and that’s how I came by their seventh studio album ‘Out of time’ released in 1991. Famous, of course, for songs like ‘Losing my religion’ and ‘Shiny happy people’. And I believe also responsible for launching the band into the popular music limelight.
I wouldn’t call myself a super-fan of R.E.M, but I do like this album and it’s one of those that I enjoy and listen to in its enitirety, which I think these days is becoming an extinct species.
Each song has its own unique feel and flavour from the beginning track ‘Radio Song’ which starts with a melodic guitar that becomes more gutsy moving swiftly into the acoustic classic ‘Losing my religion’, then feeds into the almost morose ‘Low’ with a basic beat fitting Michael Stipe’s almost off tone vocal.
The album might be seen as bordering on a country album, but it still holds onto its rock and quirky roots, and can’t be classed as just that as it has a whole lot going on for it. One of my favourite songs on the album is ‘Half a world away’, where the instruments carry the song and lyrics through and allow Michael Stipe’s vocal to ebb and flow, sweeping along with the backing vocals.
It’s a versatile album and shows the talent in the group from the chirpy almost cheesy ‘Shiny happy people’ befitting its names to the more rock songs like ‘Texarkana’ to the lyrical classic of ‘Losing my religion’. Some albums you listen to and every song or every other song can sound similar and become dull, although you cannot mistake this album as anything other than R.E.M, it is completely different from beginning to end. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this album, and if you haven’t listened to it, it’s worth looking up.