R.E.M. Albums Ranked

R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. Additionally, many liner notes from the band’s albums list attorney Bertis Downs and manager Jefferson Holt as non-musical members. One of the first alternative rock bands, R.E.M. was noted for Buck’s ringing, arpeggiated guitar style, Stipe’s distinctive vocal quality, unique stage presence and obscure lyrics, Mills’s melodic basslines and backing vocals, and Berry’s tight, economical drumming, and backing vocals of his own. In the early 1990s, other alternative rock acts such as Nirvana and Pavement viewed R.E.M. as a pioneer of the genre. After Berry left the band in 1997, through some changes in musical style to include electronic music and pop-rock sounds, the band continued its career in the 2000s with mixed critical and commercial success. The band broke up amicably in 2011 with members devoting time on solo projects despite having sold more than 85 million records worldwide and becoming one of the world’s best-selling music artists. R.E.M. disbanded amicably in September 2011, with former members having continued with various musical projects, and several live and archival albums have been released. Here are all R.E.M albums ranked.

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10. Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)

“another great album by rem. they were great band who put out great music. music you never get tire of listening to over and over. they will be missed and maybe they will put out some music they still have in their vaults that has never been released. one can always hope.”

9. Out of Time (1991)

“I love many of the songs in this record, specially Shinny Happy People. Listening the record in 5.1 is amazing as you can listen to the different choirs and instruments as if it was played live. This is a must have if you are an R.E.M. fan.”

8. New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996)

“With “New Adventures in Hi Fi,” R.E.M. produced one of their greatest albums. This is more of a Rock record, with often a faster, sometimes heavier sound than most of the previous efforts with Warner Bros., but still with a few slower tunes thrown in for some variety. Nearly all the songs are excellent, but as standouts I really enjoy New Test Leper, E-Bow the Letter; Binky the Doormat; So Fast, So Numb; Low Desert; and Electrolite. As a rock album, it’s a great listen and a true return to form for the band.”

7. Monster (1994)

“Rarely are remixes worth it or even noticeable, but this is. The remix is brilliant and breathes new life into a classic R.E.M. album. This is a must-have.”

6. Green (1988)

“This is an album from a period when R.E.M. was indeed moving from the college roots in which they had originally enjoyed their robust growth to one of more accessibility to the masses. It was the first time my attention was drawn to them, but I didn’t pick up the album until relatively recently. The overall cohesiveness as an album matches with some of those earlier albums, but does not quite reach the level of later more programmatic albums. Still, the recording represents a sonic improvement over most of the albums that preceded it. It is truly a good listen, with quality that only varies slightly.”

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5. Document (1987)

“1987’s “Document” is the album that put REM solidly into the mainstream of pop-rock music. I know this because the song “The One I Love”, which was all over the radio and MTV, was the first REM song that entered my consciousness. Oddly enough, although through the years I purchased 6 REM albums, I never got around to this one until now. From the first notes of the first track “Finest Worksong”, I can see why people sat up and took notice. More rock than folk or pop, it is a dynamic opener and fairly representative of the album as a whole. Every facet of the album is excellent: the vocals (including harmonies and backups), the bass, the drumming and especially the guitar. What a variety of guitar sounds! Many tracks feature REM’s trademark jangly guitar, but there are other styles to notice as well. “

4. Reckoning (1984)

“This is a great album, hands down. I have been listening to R.E.M for almost 30 years, and this is the record I keep coming back to. It is one of my favorite “front-to-back records,” and that says a lot.”

3. Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)

“This was the best REM album of the 80’s, in my own opinion. It was a critical hinge point in the bad’s career. It saw REM go from all indecipherable jangly folk to a group with a little more depth and range. It was the beginning of the arc that continued with Document, Green, and Out of Time. Each one picking up where the other left off, and none possible without the change in direction that started w/ Life’s Rich Pageant.”

2. Murmur (1983)

“Not too many bands over the last forty years or so have come out of the gate with an introductory LP with such a lasting impact as: “Murmur”. This record created something entirely different in 1983, it was rock as much as it was pop, and it wasn’t even close to anything else released during the early eighties. The biggest kicker to the whole deal was that R.E.M. came from a small town in Georgia.”

1. Automatic for the People (1992)

“This is one of the great albums of all time, so I couldn’t not give it full stars. But that said this new version doesn’t provide a lot (at least the CD parts) over and above what was previously provided. The two additional CDs are a live set that by the bands admission is not a fully rehearsed product. There are some real pluses – a rockier version of Drive, a rare live performance of Finest worksong and a rendition of Me in honey that is better than the album version. That said the last 3 songs really sound a bit made up on the spot. The demos CD features early versions of various stages of the songs, plus a few songs that didn’t make it (Mike’s pop song, Photograph and Devil rides backwards) – based on these demos none of these songs would have added anything to the final product but it’s always nice to hear these songs that bands reject.”