RIP REM. You were one of the stars of the 80s, and while every alternate album over the past 15 years was stodgy, every other was right on the button.
REM formed in 1980 and first came to Porky’s attention in 1986 with Life’s Rich Pageant, their fourth disk, and by far their best. That was a move away from the twee, folky-rocky sound of Murmur, Reckoning Fables of the Reconstruction, three albums of beauty and substance. But by 1985 their modus operandi had run its course and the then four-piece needed a new direction. That was supplied by two classics, Document (1987) and Green (1988) that pushed them to the edge of the mainstream.
In just four years they had gone global, every radio station in the western world was now unafraid to play them, and 1991’s Out of Time, had launched a sparkling new era. A year later came Automatic For the People with a near equal amount of success. A comedown of sorts came in the form of the bruising, glam-rock influenced Monster with a mountain of distorted guitars. I have not come across an REM fan yet who truly loves this, but for Porky this represents the band’s peak. Thereafter, they released good albums, moderate albums and plain stinkers (1998’s Up) and never matched their pre-94 glory, though Reveal, from 2001, and Accelerate (2008) came pretty close.
This year’s Collapse Into Now came into the moderate quality category and it was clear the impetus that drove the three-piece for many years had waned. Their split today is timely and, while they will be much missed, the risk of becoming a rock cliche was apparent.
For Porky a defining memory will be of their gig in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2005. They were so sharp it was intimidating, and they finished off with I’m Gonna DJ, a crashing, vibrant tune that became ensconced in my head until it finally appeared on an album three years later.
So, to messrs Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry, Porky says thanks for some fantastic songs over the past thirty years, and while It’s The End of The world As We Know It for some, Porky will forever remain Near Wild Heaven.