On 11 March 1991 an album was released that would launch a new chapter in my musical life, and inspire in me a devotion to one band. The band was R.E.M.; the album was Out of Time. To celebrate its (all important) 23rd birthday, I’m going to be spending a day listening to the entire R.E.M. back catalogue, in order, from Chronic Town to Collapse Into Now. Studio albums only, mind - I’ll be ignoring the various best-ofs and Dead Letter Office.

There will be highs (almost everything) and no doubt lows (*cough* Around the Sun) and I might just go crazy before I’m done - largely because I intend to write up each album in turn, which will probably result in lengthy essays on Murmur and Reckoning and about a dozen garbled words on Accelerate and Collapse Into Now.

As a quick reminder, the order of service will be as follows:

(Update - now with links to album reviews as they are added)

  1. Chronic Town (1982)
  2. Murmur (1983)
  3. Reckoning (1984)
  4. Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
  5. Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
  6. Document (1987)
  7. Green (1988)
  8. Out of Time (1991)
  9. Automatic for the People (1992)
  10. Monster (1994)
  11. New Adventures in hi-fi (1996)
  12. Up (1998)
  13. Reveal (2001)
  14. Around the Sun (2004)
  15. Accelerate (2008)
  16. Collapse Into Now (2011)

And now a little history…

Although I didn’t buy Out of Time on its day of release, its lead single Losing my Religion gnawed away at me until I could resist no longer. So, off to Woolies I went (I hadn’t quite embraced the spirit of independent record shops at this stage), little realising that the seven pounds I was about to spend on this cassette would become merely a down payment on a series of future investments, firstly gathering up the back catalogue of the next twelve months, and then for the next 20 years after that devouring every new R.E.M. release.

Between Out of Time, and the release of Automatic For the People, I binged on every R.E.M. release I could get hold of, buying up all the old albums, and all the “limited edition” singles from Out of Time. I even managed to get hold of a copy of Chronic Town, though that would have to wait until a trip to America in the Summer of ‘92.

I don’t feel like I listen to nearly as much R.E.M. as I used to, and yet when the day is done they’ll be back on top of the pile of my most listened to artists on last.fm. That is at least until The National Day, whenever that might be…