R.E.M. ‘Murmur’ 30th Anniversary: 15 Studio Albums Ranked From Ass to Awesome



It was this week some 30 years ago that Athens, GA band R.E.M. released their first proper studio album Murmur, kickstarting a career that would yield dozens of worldwide hits, 15 studio albums and James Mercer’s eternal ire because he knows The Shins will never be as good as them.

Murmur is an exceptional album with brilliant catalog tracks “Talk About the Passion” and “Radio Free Europe.” Robert Christgau gave it an A-, Rolling Stone a 4/5 and, more recently, Pitchfork drooled a 10/10 all over the deluxe reissue.

The thing is, the noise from former campus radio DJs and ex-indie record store owners about this album and other early R.E.M. records can get mighty cloying after a certain amount of time. After all, if you listen objectively, a lot of those early songs are pretty much nonsense.

In fact, you can fairly ramp up criticism about any phase of R.E.M.’s career. Their mid-period featuring Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People was both commercial and critical gold, but there are some wafting imperfections about them, too.

And there’s a solid segment of R.E.M.ers who refuse to take anything seriously the band did post-New Adventures in Hi-Fi — the last album with founding member Bill Berry — but there are some disrespected gems from those years as well.

We can’t stand this murmuring, muddled debate. So we decided to clear the air once and for all. Here, then, are R.E.M.’s 15 studio albums, ranked from worst to best:

Click to launch the gallery below:

This article originally appeared on AOL’s Spinner website on April 11, 2013.


Filed under Music, Recollections

2 responses to “R.E.M. ‘Murmur’ 30th Anniversary: 15 Studio Albums Ranked From Ass to Awesome

  1. Pingback: R.E.M.’s Albums Ranked From Worst To Best | Risky Fuel

  2. Brad

    This is such an embarrassing list, but to each his own.

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