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Long Play: R.E.M. - 'Out Of Time'


As part of our ongoing Long Play series, opbmusic is playing selections from R.E.M.’s album Out Of Time all day throughout the broadcast on Tuesday, January 24th.

Out Of Time by R.E.M.

Out Of Time by R.E.M.

By the early nineties, R.E.M. had jumped out of the burgeoning American college rock scene and begun to enter the wider American cultural consciousness. There was something to like for everyone. The plucky band from Athens, Georgia remained a cult favorite due to their energetic live performances, quirky jangle rock sound, and the inventive lyrics of lead singer Michael Stipe, but albums like Document and Green showcased pop sensibilities that propelled the band forward and out of the small clubs that were their home during the previous decade. During that era, the band also occasionally offered hints that they had another unused gear. In 1991, R.E.M. began to fulfill that potential with the release of Out Of Time. By the end of year, they were the biggest band in the world.

That popularity wasn’t undeserved. It was an incredible record filled with complicated and surprisingly accessible songs (the most difficult kind to pen). At the time, Parke Puterbaugh of Rolling Stone wrote:

The songs on Out of Time are seemingly small scale in their first-person obsessions, but their meanings spread out to encompass shared feelings of dread, loneliness, anomie and a growing loss of faith. There are no treatises on ecology or foreign policy, no oblique strategies or hidden agendas. There doesn’t have to be; all of that is implicit in the atmosphere of entropy, of things falling apart, that’s evoked and detailed candidly, with glimmering beauty and unsurpassable sadness, on Out of Time.

It wasn’t just high art. Out Of Time had some hit certifiable hits. “Radio Song” was nominated for a Grammy, “Near Wild Heaven” and “Texarkana” charted on commercial radio, and “Shiny Happy People” was played in every Gap changing room on the face of the Earth for over a decade. But it was the moody and uncompromising “Losing My Religion” that stood out the most. The track and its music video marked an iconic moment in alternative rock and cemented Stipe and bandmates Bill Berry, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck’s status as one of the strongest musical groups of the 1990s.

Out Of Time recently turned 25 years old. It was reissued in November on Concord Bicycle along with previously unreleased demos and live tracks. And to mark the occasion, we’re playing selections from the record all day throughout the broadcast on Tuesday, January 24th.

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