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R.E.M. | Fiction: An Alternative Biography Paperback – 7 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (7 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075353908X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753539088
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

Review

"CRAFTSMEN-LIKE READING OF THE R.E.M. STORY" (UNCUT)

"A FINE JOB" (Q)

"BUCKLEY HAS CREATED A STRAGHTFORWARD AND ENJOYABLE DOCUMENT... THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS" (RECORD COLLECTOR)

From the Author

From the author, David Buckley, September 2002.

As a journalist once told me, to be successful, rock biographies have to be one thing or another. They have to be either quick cut ‘n’ paste jobs, published in time to ride the commercial wave of the latest pop phenomenon, or they have to be as weighty, as well-researched and as serious as, say, a biography of Field Marshal Montgomery. Well, my new book on R.E.M. hopefully isn’t too weighty (it’s a good two hundred pages shorter than my previous book, on David Bowie), and it’s not always serious either (witness Peter Buck’s refrigerated pants in Chapter 1!) either. As far as the research was concerned, I was fortunate to have many willing helpers, all bubbling over with enthusiasm.

Although this isn’t an authorised biography, I was granted interviews with several key figures. I was able to speak to R.E.M.’s urbane and hardworking manager, Bertis Downs, and two of the band’s original members - the warm and self-deprecating Mike Mills, and the wonderfully garrulous Peter Buck. In fact, I interviewed Mike twice and Peter on three separate occasions. These interviews form the backbone of the book. I also was helped by dozens of musicians, producers, business executives, friends of the band, journalists and fans, who shared their R.E.M. stories with me. Their generosity of spirit made the book possible.

The first third of the book tells an astonishing tale of hard work and curmudgeonly determination, as four ragamuffin college drop-outs based in Athens, Georgia built up one of the biggest cult followings in rock. Part Two details the band’s huge global success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when those classic singles such as ‘Losing My Religion’ and ‘Everybody Hurts’ became the soundtrack to so many lives. And the third part looks honestly at the interpersonal problems that have since befallen the group, whilst putting the case for the claim that the band might just be producing some of the best music of their lives. With a rumoured tour and new album to follow in 2003, expect a busy time ahead. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bj Newman on 14 Feb 2003
Format: Hardcover
I have been an REM fan for as long as I can remember and I came away from this book feeling like I had got so much closer to the band . I have been going back listening to the cds and interpreting them differently knowing what was going on in the band at the time . There is some fascinating information including talk of an REM and Nirvana colloboration (unfortunately kurt put a stop to that ever taking place:() . The only reason im not giving it 5 stars is there are no new contributions from michael stipe , he's not that keen on interviews but it would have been nice to have some non archive words from him seeing he is the sole figure on the books cover.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr M Lewis-Adams on 6 Sep 2002
Format: Hardcover
Of all the rock giants that have dominated the airwaves over the past 15 years, its is REM that have remained the most aloof and mysterious. I always found this refusal to play the celebrity game refreshing and was sceptical when I heard of Fiction's release. It was out of respect for David Buckley - author of the excellent Strange Facination (a David Bowie autobiography) - that I bought the book and I've loved every page. Buckley cuts through the myth and gets close to the real REM (if such a thing exists) and its a really refreshing take on the tired rock biog formula. You can read as a serious muso or as someone with an intererst in the bizarre world of rock and roll - either way its a winner.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By F J Sanders on 3 Oct 2002
Format: Hardcover
Being of a prior generation, and with a somewhat cynical view of galactic sized rock bands, it was with some prejudice that I approached 'R.E.M. - Fiction' ...but I just fell in at the deep end and I loved it. This is a hugely accessible book, readable and gripping while, hooray!, avoiding all the commonplace, big band biog pitfalls of minutely detailed facts or off-the-planet opinions. Instead David Buckley slips you into the complete world of R.E.M., starting with the wonderfully evocative early years, delivering you into the middle of the quietly budding music and youth culture of Athens, Georgia, USA in the 80s, then sliding you along the bumpy but always fascinating road to rock iconism, across more than 22 years.
David Buckley is plainly a big R.E.M. fan, witness the careful research, but it doesn't stop him being critically analytical. He dives into battle on the impacts of rags to riches, of experimental to mainstream rock, of political involvement and private lives and on R.E.M.'s musical ambitions. Yet the writing is seamless, comfortably herding the action along without a blink. Every album is considered in context, exploring the tracks, the atmosphere and the direction, crafted with pithy insights from all involved. The big issues which have progressed and blighted the band are also chewed around; the integrity of their move from indie to major label, the ethics of their political tinkering, the 'did he jump or was he pushed' questions, even interrogating the quality of their belief in themselves and their music.
Given the importance place of R.E.M. in the history and credibility of superstar rock music I expected a heavy, serious, learned tome.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "jonathanmuirhead694" on 14 May 2003
Format: Hardcover
It says at the start no side-projects will be discussed - so no critiques of Michael Stipe’s film projects or photography books and no detailed analytical breakdowns of Peter Buck’s moonlighting with just about every other Athens, Georgia band on the go throughout R.E.M.’s existence - and so is a very straightforward look at each record made by the band so far, from their 1981 debut single RADIO FREE EUROPE up to 2001’s REVEAL album.
Each record is looked at in the context of things going on in the band’s life during the making of it and how they may have affected or impacted upon the album itself. The passages which record the making of 1985’s FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, for example, spend as much time detailing the band’s unhappy time in London making the album, with cramped living conditions and slowly self-destructing inter-band relationships dragging everyone’s state of mind down, yet making for strangely compelling reading nonetheless.
Author Buckley also rings another refreshing change within the circle of biographers and sycophants that R.E.M have managed to pick up during their twenty-plus year existence – he’s not afraid to criticise where necessary. The OUT OF TIME album, for example, generally accepted by all sundry as being one of the band’s masterpieces (AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE being the other one) is here taken apart song by song, with most songs coming across here as underdeveloped or, occasionally, poorly executed. While never unfair in his taking R.E.M. and their “distiples” to task, Buckley is always even handed, dishing out praise where it is, in his opinion, warranted and giving the band and their music a good, rigorous going over at all times. This is how all music books should be written
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good book. Doesn't cover the final few albums but is a great read none-the-less.
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