Friday, February 15, 2013

R.E.M. 21: Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage

The somewhat surprising announcement of R.E.M.’s pending disbandment was met with a variety of reactions from people who thrive on such things. In general, it was viewed as understandable, if not exactly inevitable. It had been years, decades since they’d been that self-contained unit of four guys battling against the mainstream. Even without their original drummer, the three remaining founders had flung themselves to opposite parts of the country, so that getting together to record, much less tour, took a lot of logistics.
But there had been clues, so we couldn’t say it was a complete surprise. Their last album was the first since Fables Of The Reconstruction to include any photographic representation of the band members on the front cover, and more to the point, Stipe was depicted as waving goodbye. They also didn’t tour behind the album, and waited six months to announce the end of the band in conjunction with a career-spanning double-CD hits collection. (They were, after all, businessmen.)
Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 attempts to cover all the bases, giving more or less equal time to each of their albums. The liner notes graphically detail the sources of each track (complete with the typography from said sources) with brief gushing paragraphs from various members about why they love the songs so much. Some of the selections are obvious, having already appeared on one or two previous compilations, but where the hell are “Cant Get There From Here” and “Drive”? Surely “New Test Leper”, “Get Up” or one of the Collapse Into Now songs could have been moved for those.
There isn’t much in the way of rarities, with the exception of the three new tracks, none of which are very exciting. “A Month Of Sundays” is said to be in the style of Pylon, but it’s no “Crazy”. “We All Go Back To Where We Belong” has something of a late-‘60s pop arrangement with Bacharach horns, while “Hallelujah” is even more lush, adding scary strings, making a weird end to their career.
As an in-depth overview, Part Lies Part Heart delivers, but it’s highly unlikely that anybody who cares about the band wouldn’t have the catalog already. They never had casual fans; you were all in or all out. Future generations will likely rip songs for their own mixes, or download a track at a time.

R.E.M. Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011 (2011)—4

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