Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Top 105 R.E.M. Songs of All Time Part 4 (42-22)

Here I am back again with the 4th installment of my Best 105 R.E.M. songs of all time. We are starting to hit the homestretch here. Again let me clarify these are my picks and mine alone, you may agree or disagree and that is fine. I would love to here your comments on these songs. Since I am getting closer to the end and there are a lot of excellent songs heading this way I am upping the video total to 6 for this blog. So let's delve into # 42-22 of the greatest R.E.M Songs of all time as chosen by me.

42. WALK IT BACK: from Collapse Into Now: This brillant song made it's way onto an episode of the revamped Hawaii 5-0 on CBS in it's first season and it was a perfect choice for the show. A more introspective song.

41. CRUSH WITH EYELINER: from Monster: This is one of the most bizarre songs REM has ever done. But it totally works. The song itself is about a transvestite. Michael Stipe is almost unrecognizable in the song, the wah wah pedal gets quite a workout and it's kicky.

40. MAPS AND LEGENDS: from Reconstruction of the Fables: It's amazing what a different take on a song can do to make you like it better. I never really liked this song when I first heard it. But cruising the internet a few months ago. Someone posted a version of this song on their Facebook page with the statement best version of song ever. So I played it and loved it. Loved it so much I went to the original song on the CD and discovered what I loved about the one version was audible but different and I liked it. I have added this version known as the best version of the song on to this countdown. Enjoy!

39. ORANGE CRUSH: from Green: Another song the band is known for. I think it was one of their first songs on Guitar hero or Rock Band. But it is a great song about of all things. Agent Orange the chemical used to kill lots of people. Great song with a great message.

38. ELECTROLITE: from New Adventures in Hi-Fi: "20th century goes to sleep." A wonderful song that ushers REM into the new century. Kicky travel song on what turns out to be their travel album. They recorded New Advs. while on the road for the Monster Tour. This also happens to be the last song that REM recorded before original member Bill Berry left the group and is also the last track on New Advs. "I'm outta here..."

37. FINEST WORKSONG: from Document:  Classic REM. A very peppy, trippy song.

36. E-BOW THE LETTER: from New Adventures in Hi-Fi: With backups by musical legend Patti Smith, REM's first single off of New Advs. is a powerful moody ballad that sets the stage for one of their better albums, and a welcome return after the horrible (in my opinion) Monster. It is also the last album where all 4 of the original members were together.

35. THE ONE I LOVE: from Document: Another song most people know REM from. They recognize the FIRE!!! that Stipe sings in the chorus. It is also misinterpreted all the time. To regular people it sounds like a love song. In reality it is a song about obsession. "A simple prop to occupy my time". But this is one of the first REM songs I ever remember listening to. My sister had the tape single of it and when I started getting into REM in my Senior Year of High School I borrowed it from my sister and played it over and over again.

34. I REMEMBER CALIFORNIA: from Green: Great use of the WAH WAH pedal on this song. Kind of an homage to Califonia Dreaming, but reversed.

33. ALL THE WAY TO RENO (YOU'RE GONNA BE A STAR): from Reveal: Another song of theirs when I first heard it, I hated it. But only one sequence. There is a bridge where Stipe keeps singing You know who you are, and it annoyed me. But the rest of the song is actually really good. This bridge just killed it for me. But then I just started zoning out when that part came on and didn't really listen to it and it became good.

32. FALL ON ME: from Life's Rich Pagent: At one time Michael Stipe himself said this was his favorite song of theirs. But anyone who knows him, or has listened to him knows while it may be true, he has a lot of favorite songs that they do. Regardless this is another one of their more known songs, and it has a very environmental message to it. Another song that was one of the first I ever heard them sing.

31. 9-9: from Murmur: An underrated song that most people have never heard before. It is from their first main album, is track 9, but is one of the craziest cool songs I have ever heard in my life.  I remember I was able to get one of my friends from College, Kevin to play it on his radio show on the college radio station I worked at for a year. I even think I may have snuck it into one of my radio shows as well.

30. LIVING WELL IS THE BEST REVENGE: from Accelerate: What better to kick off the fast and explosive album Accelerate then a fast and explosive song. Pure rock adrenaline. "baby I'm calling you out..."

29. KOHOUTEK: from Reconstruction of the Fables: The only thing I know about the word Kohoutek is that it was the name of a comet. This song is excellent and was one of the only ones I liked immediately from Reconstruction of the Fables when I first listened to the album. Still a strong song. Though I'll be damned if I can tell you what it is about.

28. FLOWERS OF GUATAMALA: from Life's Rich Pagent: A slow paced song that I always seem to air drum along to. A terrific song.

27. PRETTY PERSUASION: from Reckoning: Another really good early rocker that will get your toes a tapping.

26. BEGIN THE BEGIN: from Life's Rich Pagent: The one-two punch of this and These Days (a couple of spots below) at the beginning of Life's Rich Pagent will automatically hook you into the album. Followed by the more subdued Fall on Me and Cuyahoga it's almost a roller coaster ride, and why to me Life's Rich Pagent is REM's 2nd best album behind Automatic for the People.

25. HORSE TO WATER: from Accelerate: OH MY GOD! You want to Rock. Rock out to this. the live version does not do it justice, but this a pure, speedy rock song that will make you want to Rock out yourself. Great guitar work on this one by Peter Buck.

24. BOY IN THE WELL: from Around the Sun: Around the Sun is probably REM's worst album, however the two songs I love on it are in the top 24 of all time. Boy in the Well is one of the best songs with a catchy chorus and musical bridge which unlike Reno actually works. "You wanted me to be someone that I could never be. My new friends are offerin things I've never seen, it'sa beautiful..." great lyrics.

23. GOOD ADVICES: from Reconstruction of the Fables: It's literally a song about good advice. Things you may not think about but in the end could be considered good advice.

22. THESE DAYS: from Life's Rich Pagent: The second part of the one two punch that starts off Life's Rich Pagent is the better one in my opinion. But not by much. REM has been known to put two kickass songs back to back which creates an excellent girth to the album. In my next and final post about this, you will see another good example. Til then enjoy this rocker. See ya soon with the top 21 of all time.

Friday, May 4, 2012


In a blog a few weeks back I lamented the fact that I was not going to be able to go to the Mighty Marvel Movie marathon, a marathon of 5 movies that leads to the midnight show of The Avengers. But fortune favored the lazy and I was able to get a ticket. So on a warm, humid Thursday, I took a vacation day from work and went to sit in an air conditioned movie theater for 15 hours to watch movies based on Marvel Comics that culminated in the midnight show of The Avengers.

Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. was the first of the modern era of Marvel movies to come out, and probably my third favorite. Downey was cast perfectly and we started to see the beginnings of a new era. The film directed by Jon Favreau was embraced and made a ton of money. Marvel had started on the right foot.

While Mark Ruffalo (pictured above) did not get the nod as the Hulk until the Avengers, Marvel released The Incredible Hulk the same year as Iron Man, and while it did not do as well as Iron Man, the movie starring Edward Norton was not bad. But what really saved it was the apperance at the end by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man). We were now getting an idea of what Marvel had planned. A tight continuity where stars from other movies could show up as their character in different films.

Then there was a break for a year, then Marvel came back with Iron Man 2. While not as good as the original Iron Man, fans were happy to see the return of Downey as well as Clark Gregg who played fan favorite SHIELD agent Coulson, and the introduction of The Black Widow (plyed by Scarlett Johanssen). Another potential member of the Avengers. Samuel L. Jackson continued his role as Nick Fury. As per all the other Marvel films, after the credits were over one scene came on that hinted at the next Marvel Movie, in this case we find Coulson finding Thor's hammer.

2011 would be a huge year for Marvel Movies. They would be releasing 2 movies featuring 1 character (Thor played by Chris Hemsworth and directed by Kenneth Braughn) who had made one live action apperance on a horrible Incredible Hulk Tv movie and 1 mention in Adventures in Babysitting. Then you had Captain America who had 1 horrible movie as well. These new Marvel movies were not going to have Iron Man, or the Hulk (whom people knew from a 70s tv series) to bring awareness. But you would have the knowledge that Marvel had released 3 pretty good movies. And sure enough Thor (which is my 2nd favorite film) made good money and introduced us to not one but 2 possible members of the Avengers. Thor and...

Hawkeye,(played by Jeremy Renner the new Bourne) who makes a brief cameo apperance in the film. Which to some critics felt was shoehorned into Thor to introduce a character they wanted to use in The Avengers. It also introduced us to Loki who would end up being one of the main bad guys in The Avengers. The post credit scene teased Captain America with the modern day arrival of the Cosmic Cube, or as they call it in the Marvel Movies, the Tesseract.

Chris Evans who was best known as playing another Marvel Character, the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies was cast as Captain America, in a movie that spends the majority of it's time in the 1940s. This film did great as well and lead to the post credit trailer for The Avengers.

There is only one way to describe the Avengers and it is as a Comic Book come to life on screen. While watching the five previous movies again yesterday in the movie theater I came to the realization that even though they have the look, and some of the beats of a comic book they are still movies. The Avengers was a comic book come to life on screen. it hit every comic book beat and should be looked at as the best way to make a true adaptation of a comic book into a movie. I will not spoil anything, or talk about anything for a bit, but I think I will be writing a review sometime next week. So take my advice. Go see The Avengers. If you have never seen any of the previous films, that's ok, The Avengers does an excellent job of introducing the characters.  Avengers Assemble!