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R.E.M. : A Video History

REM's new album Collapse Into Now proves that the band can still produce great music three decades after their formation. REM's new album Collapse Into Now proves that the band can still produce great music three decades after their formation.

For nearly 30 years, R.E.M. has been making music that bucks trends and defies expectations—while still managing to sell a LOT of records. The group formed in 1981 in Athens, GA, and lead the charge of '80s college rock as it grew from an underground scene into a chart dominating force in the '90s. Since the group's early-'90s hit-making heyday, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills (drummer Bill Berry left the band in 1995 following an onstage brain aneurysm) have continued to make excellent adult rock music. With R.E.M.'s 15th album, Collapse Into Now, coming out this week. RosebudMag.com has decided to take a look back at the band's venerable catalog with a quick history of the band and their iconic videos.

"Wolves, Lower"

R.E.M.'s very first video from their 1982 Chronic Town EP. This performance video introduced the world to Michael Stipe's floppy curls and Peter Buck's equally floppy shirt sleeves, both of which would become the group's de rigueur for much of the '80s.


"Radio Free Europe"

The group's first single after signing to the I.R.S. record label (run by Miles Copeland, brother of Police drummer Stewart). The song gave R.E.M. their first taste of success. The video was shot in the garden of Georgia artist Howard Finster.


"Driver 8"

Taken from the group's third album, Fables of the Reconstruction, the clip features footage of the rail yard in Clifton Forge, VA. Dale Earnhardt Jr. named his autobiography after the song (his car was #8).


"The One I Love"

Often misinterpreted as a love song, one only need hear the lyric "a simple prop to occupy my time," to realize that Michael Stipe probably had more sinister motives in writing the song. The song was R.E.M.'s first Top 10 hit, and drove the album Document to their first platinum sales.


"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

Another clip from 1987's Document album, this live face of the band was inspired by Bob Dylan's classic lyrical outpouring "Subterranean Homesick Blues."


"Orange Crush"

1989's Green was R.E.M.'s "breakthrough" album, their first for major label Warner Brothers. "Stand" was the biggest hit from this record, but we chose "Orange Crush" for the video's ample portrayal of digging in rich black soil—a subject Rosebud Magazine readers should be familiar with.


"Losing My Religion"

If Green was the band's "breakthrough" record, than 1991's Out of Time was the record that made them megastars. This despite the fact that the album took a turn away from the group's college rock sound into more baroque territories. Super hit "Losing My Religion" didn't even feature lead guitar, but instead found Peter Buck strumming a mandolin.


"Everybody Hurts"

Out of Time was still selling units when R.E.M. released their next album, Automatic For the People. Another non-rock album, it actually sold a bit better than than mega-hit Out of Time thanks to "Everybody Hurts" and the infamous video that has inspired folks to imagine abandoning their cars in the middle of traffic for almost two decades since.



A sentimental number that recalled the band's earlier days, "Nightswimming" features string arrangements by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Though never released as a single in the U.S., the song charted decently in the UK. Regardless, it has become a mid-period R.E.M. classic.


"Crush With Eyeliner"

After two mega-hit albums that contained a minimal amount of guitars, R.E.M. got their rock back with 1994's Monster. We chose this song for the rad video by Academy Award winning director Spike Jonze and featuring a band of Asian youths miming the song.


"E-Bow the Letter"

The first single off of 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi, this song did well, although much like the album, it failed to match it predecessors in sales (even though the record did go Platinum). "E-Bow the Letter" is a moody countrified number that featured one of Stipe's heroes, punk poet/singer Patti Smith.


"The Great Beyond"

By the end of the century, R.E.M. found itself at a crossroads. Drummer Bill Berry had left the group (to take up farming!) leaving the remaining three members to record their next album, Up, mostly with a drum machine. This song didn't appear on the record, but was recorded especially for the Jim Carrey film, Man on the Moon, about famed comedian provocateur Andy Kaufman.


"Leaving New York"

Few bands in history reach a third decade of recording and releasing new music. Although the '00s haven't been as productive for R.E.M. as the previous two decades, the band can still release a fantastic song like "Leaving New York."


"Mine Smell Like Honey"

R.E.M. enter their fourth decade with a cool new beard for Michael Stipe, and a rocking number off new album, Collapse Into Now. Like the 14 albums before it, Collapse is undeniably R.E.M. and does nothing to tarnish the group's legacy as one of the greatest, longest running and most successful bands of all time.


Want more R.E.M.? Check out an exclusive interview with the band in the May/June issue of Rosebud Magazine, on newstands and in bookstores soon.

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Last modified on Thursday, 13 September 2012 19:13

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