Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Nirvana - R.E.M. weekend

A break to the stream of fine new releases we've been presenting lately (there's more to come soon) for a toast to two of the rare few truly great bands that combined exceptional quality with huge commercial success (whether they wanted it or not).

It was twenty years ago today, September 24, 1991, that Nirvana released "Nevermind", their major label debut, a record that within a few months would shake the foundations of the record industry establishment and turn upside down the rock music landscape of the era. With no marketing tricks and ploys, just with the power of the sheer brilliance of Cobain's songwriting and the band's breathtaking live shows, Nirvana would soon take over the charts and, most importantly, would finally bring attention to the riches of the underground indie rock scene that was constantly bringing out great music throughout the '80s and early '90s but up to that moment had no chance of breaking through to a wider public.

To commemorate the album's 20th anniversary various limited boxes and "special" deluxe editions are being released next week, in my opinion exactly the kind of marketing ploy that was out of the picture 20 years ago - just another record industry trick to get people to buy expensively the music that they already have. My vinyl copy of "Nevermind" was bought a month later, on October 24, 1991, and I'm sticking to it 'til death do us part. I'm sure Kurt would agree with me. Of course that doesn't mean that we shouldn't celebrate the occasion. Records like "Nevermind" are few and very far between, so get your old copy out and take it for another spin today - here's the track that started it all:

Nirvana - Smells like teen spirit

Fast forward to September 21, 2011, a date that became historic due to R.E.M.'s announcement of breaking up after 31 years together. They were one of the very few bands I've been following for so long without ever losing interest in their output. Sure, the later period of those three decades was not on the same level as the extraordinary run between 1983 and 1992 when all the classic R.E.M. albums came out, changing the expectations of the level of success that could be achieved by an uncompromising alternative band, but R.E.M. never lost the ability to write great music and play great shows. The band's latest albums "Accelerate" and "Collapse Into Now" were rightly hailed as a return to form and somehow I'm sure that although they've said goodbye, there will still be great music in the future that will somehow involve Stipe, Buck or Mills or all three of them (and let's not forget Berry either).

Over at mixrgrill we have voted our favorite albums and tracks of the band and here is my personal selection (at least for the time being):

Top 5 R.E.M. Albums

1. Document
2. Murmur
3. Lifes Rich Pageant
4. Green 
5. Automatic for the people

Top 20 R.E.M. Tracks

1. The One I Love
2. Radio Free Europe
3. It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
4. Driver 8
5. World Leader Pretend
6. Pretty Persuasion
7. Begin the Begin
8. Drive
9. Fall on Me
10. Losing My Religion
11. Imitation of Life
12. Orange Crush
13. Finest Worksong
14. Leave
15. Accelerate
16. These Days
17. Maps and Legands
18. Bad Day
19. Uberlin
20. Catapult

R.E.M. - Driver 8

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