R.E.M. – “Fables of the Reconstruction” (1985)

September 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm (Music, R.E.M., Reviews & Articles)

With R.E.M. now “retired” we look back to their early days, in honor of their greatness. This review of their third album comes from The Washington Post, June 13, 1985 by Joe Sassy…

There is an ominous, reverberating guitar figure opening the first side of the new R.E.M. album Fables of the Reconstruction (IRS-5592) that, like the creepy theme to Perry Mason, is a bone-chilling introduction to mystery. Even granting lead singer Michael Stipe his characteristic burry unintelligibility, the third album from this much-heralded Georgia quartet asserts its musical magic on terms darker and more elusive than ever.

Eschewing radio-tailored accessibility and immediacy, Fables of the Reconstruction unfolds a dense and colorful rock tapestry, every bit as involving as a riddle with no solution. Traveling to England to work with producer Joe Boyd represents a significant change in R.E.M.’s typical southern recording strategy. Boyd, known for his work with Celtic rocker Richard Thompson, has deepened the band’s sound, moving it from its cheerier folk-rock heritage toward the more foreboding temper of Celtic culture and mythology.

The few explicit production touches Boyd does provide — the violins ending “Feeling Gravity’s Pull,” the fat soul horns that fade out “Can’t Get There from Here” and the plucky banjo coursing through “Wendell Gee” Read the rest of this entry »

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