7IN – 83-88 by R.E.M. (7″ singles collection)

3 December, 2014 in Music Reviews

R.E.M.

It’s the beginning of R.E.M. as we knew them

‘7IN – 83-88’ charts the 11 singles R.E.M. released during their time with IRS Records in their early days of greatness

R.E.M.

etween 1983 and 1988 R.E.M. went from penniless former art students to featuring on the cover of Rolling Stone as ‘America’s best rock & roll band’. During this period, the defining act of college-rock and fathers of grunge and alt-rock released 11 singles with I.R.S. Records. Those singles are brought together on 7IN – 83-88, a 23-song boxed collection of vinyl 7” singles that R.E.M. fans young and old will find much to enjoy in.

The boxset starts track one of debut album Murmur. Radio Free Europe has lost none of its pop excellence in the 31 years since it was released, and sets the scene for a history lesson on how sweat and inspiration can take a band from the back corner of empty bars to the brightest centre stages of packed stadiums, while illustrating just how significant an impact Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry continue to have. So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) has the jangling melodies that C86 jumped on, which have since been adopted by revivalists like the recent Welsh Music Prize winners Joanna Gruesome. Elsewhere you can practically hear the pens of Pearl Jam’s members wriggling across the page as they listen to Finest Worksong and take notes on how to become a stadium rock band comprised of vitality, credibility and success

There’s also a smattering of live tracks to draw in the R.E.M. cultists, including Catapult (originally featured on Murmur), Maps And Legends (from Fables Of The Reconstruction) and Time After Time (from Reckoning), the latter receiving its first US release. Most importantly though, 7IN – 83-88 is jam packed full of truly excellent songs that remind you just how good that first great period of R.E.M.’s history was – how many bands could write songs as cutting as The One I Love and It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel) Fine and still not be satisfied?

7IN – 83-88 is a brilliant collection that charts the rise and rise of one of the most successful and acclaimed rock acts of all time, offering fans the chance to journey from the early flowerings of genius and end with a band that kicked the doors open for untold numbers of independent guitar bands. It’s essential listening for anyone with an interest in guitar music.

Verdict: An essential collecting charting R.E.M.’s growth from hopefuls to heroes

Damien Girling