Thanks for all your comments on the REM blog I posted yesterday. I thought it might be useful if I tried to answer a few of your questions – as best as I can, anyway.
Comment from: Paul
What did you think of “Sing For The Submarine”? Is it that it’s a bad song or just that it drags on for too long?
It’s OK, Paul, though maybe the second weakest song on the album after “I’m Gonna DJ”. It’d certainly benefit from the sort of ruthless editing that’s been applied to most of the other tunes. But it’s also one of those slightly overblown, slowish tunes which have been so common on the previous two albums.
Comment from: Nigel W
What were your three good songs on “Around The Sun”, by the way? “Leaving New York” and “Boy In The Well” were the two I singled out for praise at the time.
Yeah, those two are good songs, and I also liked “High Speed Train”: it reminds me of some of the more interesting diversions on “Up”- which Daniel rightly praises in a comment at the end of this blog, incidentally.
Comment from: Adrian
Hi John, What is “Hollow Man” like?
A bit of a tease, actually, since it starts like one of those sombre piano songs so beloved of latterday REM, then abruptly kicks off into something faster and guitar-heavy.
Comment from: Kirsten Davis
Would you say there is a chance it could go down with some of REM’s best work?
Well, it’s a good record and, as I said, the best since “New Adventures”. I can’t imagine that I’m going to reach for this instead of, say, “Murmur”, in a couple of years’ time. But as I’m sure many of you’ll agree, REM’s very best work is of such a daunting standard that it’s unrealistic to think even a relative return to form could measure up.
Comment from: DemonAndrew
“’Accelerate’, in fact, sounds like the record REM’s fans wanted them to make, not necessarily the record REM may have wanted to make.” That reminds me of what I think of U2’s albums since “Pop”, both of which are dire. Big hopes that REM aren’t falling into the same trap.”
Good point, DemonAndrew, and it definitely feels like REM are trying very hard – and once or twice, like when Stipe starts namedropping old song titles in “Sing To The Submarine”, way too hard – to please the fans. But I actually think “Around The Sun” was that record, since they obviously wanted to tap into the gravitas of “Automatic For The People” on that one. Those U2 albums are consciously in thrall to the most commercially successful records of their career. REM here sound much more interested in recapturing the feel of “These Days” rather than “Everybody Hurts”.
Comment from: Another Inevitable Question
John: I loved “Staring Down the Barrel of the Middle Distance” from the Dublin gigs. Unfortunately, it looks like it was excluded based upon the tracklisting. Is there any chance that song was reincarnated as either “Hollow Man” or “Sing for the Submarine?”
I’ve just had a look at “Staring Down The Barrel” on Youtube, and it doesn’t sound anything like those two. No idea what’s happened to that one, I’m afraid.