Artist – Album: R.E.M – Green
Released: 7th November 1988
Sounds Like: Who sell out?
Music history is littered with bands that had amassed an avid underground following, only to supposedly alienate their faithful once they were picked up by a major label and had a chance at mainstream popularity. In fact, just the act of signing for a record company that has such luxuries as access to decent studios, useful contacts and/or paid staff is a heinous crime in some circles; all the more so if the unfortunate band inadvertently score a hit.
In truth, few “sell outs” actually did anything of the sort. With the honourable exception of Robert Johnson, who famously sold his soul to the devil back in the 1930’s, things tend not to be that different when a lucrative contract comes the way of the simple artist – after all, why sign a band if you need to change everything about them? X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent have proven that there’s already plenty of ready-made pop act play-doh out there, tremendously ready to go and make an absolute arse out of themselves on the whims of a record exec.
So, R.E.M.’s Green, their first album after signing with Warner Bros. Records, is not a sell out. It does contain a few pop songs – ‘Pop Song 89’ is a bit of a no-brainer – but so did their previous albums and, besides, the likes of ‘Get Up’ and ‘Stand’ were recorded with tongue positioned squarely in cheek. Their first single, in fact, was ‘Orange Crush’, written about the entirely uncommercial subject of the use of chemical defoliants in the Vietnam War. Elsewhere, things sound R.E.M-esque, with the likes of ‘You Are the Everything’ and ‘World Leader Pretend’ being real highlights of a consistently strong set.
If R.E.M. ever did sell out, then it was surely on their next album ‘Out of Time’, which featured the unabashed bubblegum pop of ‘Shiny Happy People’ and a rap-rock crossover with KRS-One called ‘Radio Song’. Despite those dodgy bits, that album is still seen as a classic. Green is nearly as good, and without a sniff of selling out to be snuffed.
Albumaday... rating: 7/10
1. Pop Song 89 – 3:04
2. Get Up – 2:39
3. You Are the Everything – 3:41
4. Stand – 3:10
5. World Leader Pretend – 4:17
6. The Wrong Child – 3:36
7. Orange Crush – 3:51
8. Turn You Inside-Out – 4:16
9. Hairshirt – 3:55
10. I Remember California – 4:59
11. 11 – 3:10
Listen to ‘You Are the Everything’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6e-LF21yFWM