R.E.M.: Lifes Rich Pageant [25th Anniversary Edition]

Lifes Rich Pageant [25th Anniversary Edition]
When Athens’ favorite sons R.E.M. released Life’s Rich Pageants in 1986, the rest of the world finally got a peek at what the college rock crowd had been raving about for years. Four albums into it, R.E.M. had their strongest commercial success with Lifes Rich Pageant, a foreshadowing of what was to come with the impressive succession of follow ups (Document, Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People).

Capitol Records, along with the band’s original label IRS, has just re-released this classic record that includes remastered versions of the original songs and a bonus disc of 19 demo tracks. Songs like “Fall On Me,” “Superman” and “Hyena” come off just as remarkable and forward-sounding today.

Looking back on Lifes Rich Pageant, over two decades later, it’s remarkable to note that the band found success without sacrificing any of their original sound. There was no over-polishing on the production side – a Hallmark of the mid 80’s – and Stipe wasn’t forced to tighten up his seemingly nonsensical lyrics to make the songs more palatable for mass consumption.

From Michael Stipe’s still-mumbled, often obtuse lyrics to Pete Buck’s jangly guitar, R.E.M. managed to win over a wider audience on their own terms and at a time when disposable songs (Ne Shooz, Starship) and aging adult pop (Peter Cetera, Survivor) were still having their way with the music sales charts.