#tbt REM / Reckoning (1984)

By Randy Nieto
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Label: I.R.S.
Year: 1984

Several albums before they shat all over their dark and brooding legacy with “Shiny Happy People” and “Stand”, R.E.M. released “Reckoning”, a beautifully written and lyrically poetic record. R.E.M. was the quintessential college rock band of the early 80’s: they had already practically invented indie rock (which could be argued), but the songs on Reckoning proved to be more complicated and somber than ever before. Lyrical gems like ‘They shifted the statues for harboring ghosts’ in “Harborcoat” and ‘These rivers of suggestion are driving me away’ in “South Central Rain” inspired many 80’s and 90’s college kids to join bands and begin writing poetry in their spiral notebooks. There is a moment of brightness in “Second Guessing”, and a weird, tongue-in-cheek, funky intro to “Don’t Go Back to Rockville”, but really that’s all you get, so you better have something to be sad about. You know how there are those albums where every single song is amazing, and you play the whole thing over and over again until you get sick of it? This is one of those records. The songwriting is inventive, original, and fun(in the most depressing sense of the word). Clearly this was the album they fell in love with the minor chord. If you are not familiar with “Reckoning”, it’s never too late to start loving this 30 year old record. To get you going, I posted a full stream of the album below.

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