Happy 25th anniversary to one of my favorite albums, REM’s Out of Time. I was admittedly late to the game with REM, as I didn’t really discover them until the mid 90’s, but they easily have been one of my favorite bands ever since.
I decided to rank each song on the album. Not because anyone paid me to do it, but because I am a fan, and I love the music. So here goes nothing!
11) Radio Song
While there is no bad music on this album, this song is probably the most disjointed. It goes in different directions musically, and the random ending featuring rapper KRS-ONE just doesn’t fit. To me, it feels like the band snarkily picked the title of the song after being forced by the record company to write a “radio song.”
10) Me in Honey
Nothing against Kate Pierson of the B-52s. She’s part of a legendary group that’s made great music. However, she doesn’t blend amazingly with Stipe’s vocals. The harmonies are slightly off, and the main guitar riff does get a bit repetitive. In the end, you have a pretty standard late album cut.
Yeah, Low is a sad-sounding song, but I’m not picking on it because of that. What kills this song is it’s placement on the album. It appears immediately after Losing My Religion and before Near Wild Heaven, the two most upbeat songs. For that reason alone, I find myself skipping over it a bit.
8) Shiny Happy People
This song isn’t nearly as bad as people say it is, but it’s by no means classic REM. Again, I like Kate Pierson but she doesn’t blend with Stipe and Mike Mills on vocals. The video is what I like to call “visual vomit.” Listen to this song at your own risk though. Any bleed through on your iPod and you will get dirty looks on the subway. I know from experience.
Just in case you forgot REM was from the south, this twangy gem pops up. There are no lyrics, just Stipe humming along to a really good guitar riff.
Mills takes the lead on this one, and even though the guitar riff sounds pretty similar to the rest of the album, there is a good mix of slide lead guitar along with a string ensemble which sounds pretty cool. Solid musically, but not the catchiest of the bunch.
5) Near Wild Heaven
Again, Mike Mills appears on lead vocals, while Stipe takes to the background. This is a fairly benign song, with a simple but effective guitar riff. Note the similarities between this song and the classic Weird Al style parody Franks 2000″ TV.
4) Half a World Away
Mike Mills wrote one of the most underrated lead organ riffs ever. Add strings, Stipe’s great vocal performance, and oh my, is that a harpsichord? What a great track, and it’s only number four on this list!?!
3) Country Feedback
This song is damn powerful, and if you love REM deep cuts, this is an important one to love. This one has a stream of consciousness style that just seems to get more intense as the song goes on. It’s placed perfectly in the album, and has a dark southern feel that must be admired.
2) Losing My Religion
Admit you still love this pop hit 25 years later. I sure do. Does anything else really need to be said about this one? It still gets played. A lot.
This song is in a world of its own. Belong sticks out like a sore thumb on this album, and that’s not a bad thing. The verses are spoken recitations, which contrast starkly with the chanting chorus, featuring Stipe, Mills, and Berry on vocals. Their harmonies are intense, and they show off the sick range Stipe has. There is healing power in this song, hence it’s top spot.