Automatic For The People....

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dindudedindude Frets: 4548
....recently hit 25 years old, it slipped my attention.

I played that album to death on its release - I had recently discovered R.E.M. and was having fun going back through their very rich back catalog, and I have them to thank for dragging me out of a then listening diet of shred and more shred.

But AFTP was the one album that I picked up as it was released. It was hailed as an instant classic at the time and it still stands up to that accolade today - still their most complete piece of work IMO, even if other albums have more exciting or greater overall moments.
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  • BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1400
    Great album, thanks for the prompt to listen to it again for the first time in probably a decade :-)
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  • The singles are so familiar from the time, but I only got round to listening to it all properly this year and yes, it’s a masterpiece alright. Nice strings by John Paul Jones. 
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  • jonevejoneve Frets: 634
    An absolute perfectly crafted album from start to finish. 
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 7590
    A fantastic record. I don't care if the cool kids think they "sold out" after a decade of indie-darling-ness. Automatic and Out of Time are both spectacular achievements.
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  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 1084
    I lived in shared student accommodation at the time.  Housemates played this album to death.  You'd think they only had the one album. 
    I learned to absolutely hate the album.   It makes me wince when I heard the opening notes to the first song ...
    Maybe one day, I'll be able to enjoy it...

    I do occasionally still listen to some of their older stuff, such as Green, Lifes Rich Pageant, and  Fables of the Reconstruction.

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  • not_the_djnot_the_dj Frets: 5069
    A fantastic record. I don't care if the cool kids think they "sold out" after a decade of indie-darling-ness. Automatic and Out of Time are both spectacular achievements.
    Wisdom
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3285
    It's one of those albums that succeeds in drawing you into its world, so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If Monty had been on another album, for example, it'd be rightly lambasted as not that good. In other contexts, New Orleans Instrumental would be just a bit of filler. Drive, a relatively weak opening track.

    But in the context of the whole, I can't imagine the album without those songs. And there are moments that perfectly epitomise REM. I almost can't describe it, but it's those bits like the feedback montage in the middle of Sweetness Follows, or when the final chorus of Man on the Moon repeats that third time and somehow it feels like it's burrowing into your heart, or the way you hear Michael Stipe nearly lose it in the final chorus of 'Sidewinder...' because he pronounced Seuss wrong... REM draw you into their world, and you find yourself judging them on *their* terms, so they get away with stuff other bands wouldn't.
    Captain Horizon (my band);
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  • fields5069fields5069 Frets: 1087
    It's either this one or Out Of Time for me. Although saying that, Life's Rich Pageant is pretty damned good. Automatic... was probably the last good REM album, for me.
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  • Col_DeckerCol_Decker Frets: 2126
    Great album but Everybody Hurts as ruined REM for me. A once great song played to death.

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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 7590
    I've never liked "Pageant" very much, but I love Document to bits. Maybe I should revisit. 
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  • SeshSesh Frets: 486
    Still a great album. My wife and I both had cd copies before we got together so the spare is in the car. I didn't get it on release but there was a period  around 93/94 where my tape of it lived in my Walkman.
    Yes, this is one of the few albums I've bought twice. There's already 3 copies in our possession. Do I want the 25th anniversary version? Yes. Am I willing to pay the £80 Amazon are selling it for? No.
    Can't sing, can't dance, can handle a guitar a little.
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  • SnapSnap Frets: 2006
    Yes, agreed.

    I remember sitting in my car, shortly after my Grandad died in 93, bawling my eyes out with Everybody Hurts playing. Cliched, yes, but a strong memory!
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  • SecretMachineSecretMachine Frets: 33
    edited November 8
    "Sweetness Follows" is one of those transcendent songs that bands seem to produce once in their career. It's like the spiritual opposite of "Street Spirit" by Radiohead for me. I love both of those songs but they feel like they address a similar topic (Death) and the way that they approach it is quite ying and yang. The use of guitar feedback as well is a wonderful way of adding that bitersweetness into the song.

    As a whole, I absolutely love the album, it's near perfect. "Star Me Kitten" I could never get into and I felt like it should have been kept for Monster, but otherwise it's one of those sublime journey albums. 
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  • dindudedindude Frets: 4548
    edited November 8
    "Sweetness Follows" is one of those transcendent songs that bands seem to produce once in their career. It's like the spiritual opposite of "Street Spirit" by Radiohead for me. I love both of those songs but they feel like they address a similar topic (Death) and the way that they approach it is quite ying and yang. The use of guitar feedback as well is a wonderful way of adding that bitersweetness into the song.

    As a whole, I absolutely love the album, it's near perfect. "Star Me Kitten" I could never get into and I felt like it should have been kept for Monster, but otherwise it's one of those sublime journey albums. 

    Interesting, I have the same thoughts about Star Me Kitten belonging better on Monster. Glad to hear the love for Sweetness Follows too, love that track.

    Ignoreland is one I'd like to pull out too - great track, love the lyric "I know that this is vitriol. No solution, spleen-venting,
    But I feel better having screamed. Don't you?" Probably truer today with Trumps regime than it was at the time. 

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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 7590
    On an only-vaguely-related note, I also love the last album, Collapse Into Now, not because it’s  their best record, obviously, but it has a similar sense of grace to it as Automatic manages. And I love that the last track on the last album is the Country Feedback-style Blue. Highly underrated album
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  • UnclePsychosisUnclePsychosis Frets: 4621
    edited November 8
    Love me a bit of Automatic. One of the all-time greats.

    Mike you absolutely need to get into Pageant. Love it. 

    I can never pick a favourite REM album but Monster, New Adventures, and Pageant are definitely the top three. 
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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 365
    @UnclePsychosis will you marry me?!! 

    I would agree wholeheartedly with your choices and inability to pick a favourite! REM one of my fave bands ever and I couldn't possibly choose between Murmur, Fables, Pageant, Auto, Monster and New Adventures (unusual to see someone else pick those last two, love New Adventures)

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • Boromedic said:
    @UnclePsychosis will you marry me?!! 


    -only if we can both agree that Around The Sun never happened. 
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 7590
    I've been on Pageant all morning. It's growing on me. Good headphones and a quiet work morning have helped :)
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  • CirrusCirrus Frets: 3285
    Boromedic said:
    @UnclePsychosis will you marry me?!! 

    I would agree wholeheartedly with your choices and inability to pick a favourite! REM one of my fave bands ever and I couldn't possibly choose between Murmur, Fables, Pageant, Auto, Monster and New Adventures (unusual to see someone else pick those last two, love New Adventures)

    Are you kidding? New Adventures was the album that got me into them!
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  • mixolydmixolyd Frets: 236
    edited November 9
    Extraordinary record.  I put it alongside DSOTM and Rumours in the class of album that can only come about when a group of individual songwriters are all at the top of their game and bringing their different projects to the recording.  Shame that these albums are inevitably followed by worldwide domination and an accompanying loss of focus and ambition, never to be regained!

    There’s a rip of the original US vinyl pressing kicking about on the web that beats out all of the HI-RES digital files imo.  It has a smoothness to it that fits the record perfectly.

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  • New Adventures has Electrolite on it, which is one of my favourite songs of all time. It definitely deserves more praise.

    I think "Up" and "Reveal" have their moments as well. "Saturn Return", "All The Way To Reno", "At My Most Beautiful", "Daysleeper" are wonderful.
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  • dindudedindude Frets: 4548
    Boromedic said:
    @UnclePsychosis will you marry me?!! 


    -only if we can both agree that Around The Sun never happened. 
    Ha, I quite like a few things from that
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  • dindudedindude Frets: 4548
    I've been on Pageant all morning. It's growing on me. Good headphones and a quiet work morning have helped :)

    It's a great record, it's quite raw in both it's performances and it's production, but that's part of the charm.
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 63
    I prefer Out of Time, as the OP AFTP is probably the most complete but Out of Time just means more to me from my youth.  Document and Green both very strong but not in the league of those two.  Saw them at the Milton Keynes bowl on a red hot day in the 90s, as the sun went down they played losing my religion and ironically was an almost religious experience!
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  • REM were simply a great band. Lifes Rich Pageant was the first CD I ever bought and I played it constantly for months. I must admit that by AFTP my interest had waned a bit but I agree that, with the benefit of hindsight, it's undoubtedly a classic. It's interesting that both Out of Time and AFTP became huge sellers without any live tours to support them especially since REM were really great live too.
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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 365
    Boromedic said:
    @UnclePsychosis will you marry me?!! 


    -only if we can both agree that Around The Sun never happened. 
    Hahaha, you're on! (although I had a sneaky love for Final Straw)

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 365
    Cirrus said:
    Boromedic said:
    @UnclePsychosis will you marry me?!! 

    I would agree wholeheartedly with your choices and inability to pick a favourite! REM one of my fave bands ever and I couldn't possibly choose between Murmur, Fables, Pageant, Auto, Monster and New Adventures (unusual to see someone else pick those last two, love New Adventures)

    Are you kidding? New Adventures was the album that got me into them!
    Goodo,lol! I love that record but not many folk seem to like it, I'm looking forward more to the 25th version of this tbh as I found the recording fascinating.....

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • BoromedicBoromedic Frets: 365
    edited November 9
    As a side note, I've bought every 25th anniversary re-release from Murmur on despite owning them all already. However I balked at Automatic being £75 for the deluxe version, after they charged £40 for Out Of Time I felt it was a right cash in so they can do one this time.....

    .....and what to my wondering eyes should appear.....      nothing.......


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  • dindude said:
    I've been on Pageant all morning. It's growing on me. Good headphones and a quiet work morning have helped :)

    It's a great record, it's quite raw in both it's performances and it's production, but that's part of the charm.
    -to me it always felt a bit like the world's best recorded live album. 

    These Days in particular is one of my favourite R.E.M. moments - when Mike Mills hits those backing vocals in the chorus (We are young - we are concerned - we are hope) I never fail to get a wee thrill. 
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