16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, brilliant
R.E.M. are always at their best when making music that is brave and unexpected, and this is their second bravest album. Only the "we hate our new fans" album Monster was braver, but this one is far superior.
Deprived of drummer Bill Berry after New Adventures, R.E.M. were unable to mix in classic rock songs on this album. But rather than try anyway, without drums, as...
Published on 24 May 2004
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Give it another play!
This is one of those ablums that definitely inproves the more its played. Sure, its a step forward for Stipey and Co. but it may take some time to register. Add one more star when you've listened to it 5 times.
Published on 30 Jan 2000
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, brilliant,
By A Customer
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)R.E.M. are always at their best when making music that is brave and unexpected, and this is their second bravest album. Only the "we hate our new fans" album Monster was braver, but this one is far superior.
Deprived of drummer Bill Berry after New Adventures, R.E.M. were unable to mix in classic rock songs on this album. But rather than try anyway, without drums, as they have done on Reveal, R.E.M. instead opted for an album of pure melancholy and beauty. It starts with Airportman - Stipe murmuring "great opportunity awaits" over eerie keyboard sounds, and if you can stomach this you will love the rest.
More than any other R.E.M. album, this a journey for the listener and an experience. It's an album about maturing, about troubled times and about coming out the other side. It's sad, mournful, reflective and incredibly uplifting. It makes Automatic For The People seem dry and emotionless by comparison. It's a response to all their previous work, full of references to earlier songs. There are 14 tracks, yet there are no weak ones; the album never sags. Each is beautiful and conveys a mood perfectly.
If Monster was a rejection of their new fans at the zenith of their fame, this (coming at perhaps the low point of their stardom) is a real treat for all the fans who follow the band because they love what they really are: unique, emotional, unpredictable.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Up' lifiting 'Up' there on top of the clouds,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)'Up' ended up being not only my favourate of Rem's but also the most listended to record for the last 4 years. At first I remember thinking all the tracks sounded the same and the whole album was a bit annonymous (compared to previous offerings). However, it soon started to clear, like mist rising from the oceon, into one of the most beautiful records ever.
Highly reccomend listening to tracks like 'Hope' and 'Why not Smile?' on a very highquality walkman or hi fi, as the depth and texture of the sound is so amazing its almost edible (I still hear new layers of sound when I listen to it now). The beauty eminates from the lyrics original, expressive nature and in the experimental sounds that work so brilliantly, its hard to imagine how anyone could not love this. Not forgetting that each track has a distinctly subtle-yet powerful tune, prime example being Diminished, or Parakeets. This is a truly great record, and don't believe people who think Automatic For the People is the only good album, you'll miss out on this and other masterpieces like 'Out of Time'
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A scapegoat falls to climb....,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)Be patient because it might take a while.
Obscure electronica and a woozy, sleepy jaded feel pervades this album. And mostly, nothing on here will grab you straight away. Certainly the stunning "At My Most Beautiful" might take your attention and the charming but REM-by-numbers lead off single "Daysleeper" will shake you by the hand and offer you tea and biscuits. But "Airportman" might just ignore you. Completely ignore you. But don't worry you'll be on speaking terms at some point.
There is something quite stunning about this album once you've spent time with it.
"Walk Unafraid" is defiant and mesmeric. "Parakeet" is beautiful. "Diminished" is paranoid and claustrophobic but perversely has a charming little chorus in the middle. This gives way to a sweet little acoustic hidden track which leaves as quickly as it arrives.
"Why Not Smile?" is simple and winsome. The closer "Falls To Climb" is somber and stately - the kind of track that would normally have Mr Buck's jangly Rickenbacker but this time is covered in electronic bleeps and synths. And it works well.
Down-sides? You need persistence, sunbeam, and if you've got 16 million tracks on your I-pod you can wade through at choice you might not want to cultivate it.
But if you appreciate the whole concept of an album then you'll stick with this.
There is a little bit of sleepyness - "Suspicion" is comatosed. Not at all offensive, just very sleepy.
But all in all, accomplished, intelligent and convincing. Worth a re-visit.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R.E.M.'s Lost Classic,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)Initially underwhelming, ultimately astounding - the unfairly maligned "Up" is a sweet mystery indeed. For those with patience and an open ear, this album should prove rewarding and enduring.
Much has been made of the severe troubles involved in the making of "Up". Hopefully the band can reflect on the quality of the songs produced through this turmoil.
Arguably, in an artistic sense, R.E.M. are at their very best when they are forced out of their comfort zone. "Fables of the Reconstruction", for many their finest album of all, was also born from a dark period for the band. The stormy sense of dislocation sensed at the time is perfectly captured in the songs and in the production.
Similarly on "Up", the songs reflect a sudden shift in circumstance and perspective, while the production and lo-fi instrumentation is defiant and fresh in the face of possible adversity.
Perhaps only "Daysleeper" and "At My Most Beautiful" are instantly recognisable as 'vintage' R.E.M. songs. Both are wonderful in their way. The folk-tinged yearning vocals and waltzing rhythm of "Daysleeper" make it a bittersweet delight, while the admittedly twee "At My Most Beautiful" is undeniably gorgeous.
This album as a whole is experimental. In its way. It's not comparable to the seismic transition Radiohead conjured with "Kid A" for example. You won't find anyone comparing "Up" to Aphex Twin.
Sure, R.E.M. have adopted buzzing synths and some drum patterns here, and to wonderful effect. What's really novel, though, is the vulnerability willingly augmented in the songs by these lo-fi sounds and by the suitably strong production of Pat McCarthy.
Even songs like "Low" or "Try Not To Breathe", for instance, as stark as they are, don't feel quite so stripped and bruised as "Up"'s "Falls to Climb" or "Sad Professor".
Or nothing in R.E.M.'s canon since "Perfect Circle" can quite match the slow-burning intimacy of "Suspicion" or "Diminished". Perhaps only "Feeling Gravity's Pull" opens an R.E.M. record in the oblique yet commanding manner of "Airportman".
Every R.E.M. album is different, but "Up" really stands alone. Indeed, it could appeal to those who don't particularly like the band. Non-R.E.M.-fans may think, for instance, that "At My Most Beautiful" is slushy nonsense but they might dig the electro-drive and insistent vocals of the song preceding it, "Hope".
The songs here are just so strong, and not immediately so. They slowly and wonderfully seep into your skin. And they last there. It's an album you come back to again and again.
"Sad Professor" features a beautifully lonely acoustic guitar track from Mike Mills, with Stipe's vocals arresting and moving as he sings lines like "Everybody hates a bore" and "I hate where I wound up". You could imagine Mark Eitzel writing this song. It's one of R.E.M.'s finest ever.
"Why Not Smile" is sad in a more immediate way, as Stipe's own simple guitar picking and modestly sung plaintive lines give way to a flood of feedback and drifting, overlaid keyboard sounds. The ambience here is similar to Yo La Tengo's quieter moments.
"Suspicion" is elegant and poignant, flowing on a terrific bassline and featuring a truly gorgeous vocal from Stipe.
The closing track "Falls To Climb" is as bleak as the band has ever been. The hope suggested in the title and in the closing refrain of "I am free" is smothered by a general sense of despair as the bellowing keyboards lay ground to Stipe's aching vocals and war metaphors. It echoes "World Leader Pretend" but without that song's defiance. Stipe is singing, "Someone has to take the fall, why not me?" instead of "This is my life and this is my time".
Elsewhere "Up" is much brighter, indeed it's sparkly silver on the glam-rock of "Lotus", a number as brash as any on "Monster". "Walk Unafraid" succeeds where "Falls to Climb" resigns in raising a mood of overcoming adversity. It's loud and full of keyboard chugs and dents in amongst Buck's biting electric guitar drones.
Guitar is clearly shifted in favour of keyboard sound for most of the album. Even when electric guitars are present, they resemble synth soundscapes anyway, particularly the gushes of feedback misting through the intriguing "Airportman".
"Diminished" and "Parakeet" (subtlety divided by Stipe's delightful short piece "I'm Not Over You") perhaps mark the essence of "Up". The sounds and rhythms are inventive, laying dreamy, slightly eerie webs over the closing run of the album.
"Up" certainly represents a paradigm shift for R.E.M. and perhaps they will someday return to the adventurous, gallant songwriting spirit and edgy production of "Up" (its sprit certainly breathes through the stunning "Saturn Return" on follow-up "Reveal").
The album, in its design and content, concerns conflict, struggle, re-evaluation. And "Up" initially presents such challenges to its audience. But just as the band banished their doubts and fears through and beyond this album, the patient listener will soon be immersed in all the glories "Up" has to offer. A triumph, a delight - "Up" is one of R.E.M.'s very finest hours.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Same but Different,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)Up has recieved a fair amount of bad press since its release in 1998. Creating a viable follow up to the stripped, harsh tones of 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi without recently estranged drummer Bill Berry was a delicate task, and R.E.M. responded by creating a album of something very akin to electronica, albeit with the adition of strings, quiet jangle guitars and Stipes slow, impassioned vocals. As a turn around it was very similar to that taken by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins in the same year, with his Adore album. And it works (in both cases). The eerie opening track Aiportman, with its muffled vocals and bare harmonies smacks us in tha face, crying - "we've moved on - don't expect more Wake-Up Bombs!". Suspicion, At Your Most Beautiful and Sad Professor are finely crafted paeans to disturbed love and lust, whereas Hope is a lo-fi chunk of quickly delivered abstract poetry. Single Daysleeper is unique on this album as a slice of Classic R.E.M, with the overall feeling of the album injected into the tried and tested formula. Ending on an emotional high with Falls to Climb (possibly the strongest performance present on this disc), Up is one of the bands most peculiar, uplifting and simply brilliant albums since the heady days of Life's Rich Pageant and Document. Highly, highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REM at their very best - again,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)I was beginning to fear that REM would never release an album to equal the mighty Automatic for the People, but then along came this little gem to set my mind at rest. The band continued their good work with 2002's Reveal; I believe the latter sold more copies, although I'm not sure why, as "Up" is just as good. It's a complex, rewarding album that I can sit (or, more likely, lie on the sofa) and listen to over and over again and never get fed up of - one of the few albums that can hold my attention for all of its 14 tracks!
There's not a dud one among the 14 - imagine REM writing a dud song! Well, the opener, "Airportman", I could maybe live without - but from then on things just get better and better. Particular highlights, for me, include the gorgeous, haunting "Suspicion". "The Apologist" - its "I'm sorry..." refrain echoing the much earlier "So. Central Rain" - contains plenty of material for dedicated Stipe-watchers to try and analyse - as indeed does the whole album. "At My Most Beautiful" is a lovely Beach Boys-inflected tune (if you can believe it!) which is perhaps the most straightforward love song that REM - a band not, after all, known for their romantic ballads - have written. ("I save your messages/Just to hear your voice...")
"Up" is the first REM album to print the lyrics on the sleeve, which is a matter of great joy to us frustrated dissectors of Stipe's sometimes impenetrable singing (although he's improved over time!). His lyrics have become more personal and perhaps more emotionally revealing - the "I" word is used a lot more.
I love REM and I never get tired of them. This album may not be up everyone's street, but if you've ever listened to and enjoyed their music previously, I would highly recommend it - in fact, it's indispensable.
Without a doubt one of my all-time favourites and deserving of far more attention than it has received.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of their best albums - beautiful,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)Although hard to get into, this is, in my opinion, one of the greatest R.E.M. albums. The Apologist, Walk Unafraid, Lotus and Daysleeper are probably the easiest to get into but once you've listened to them a bit the rest are just as good. The whole album is melancholy but not depressing - there is hope in all of them. However, this is not what all R.E.M. songs are like - it's probably not best for a first album.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the strongest REM albums,
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)This was the first REM album without the original drummer and I remember the TV documentary when the band explained how difficult this album was to make. Well it was certainly worth the effort because I consider this to be one of the strongest REM albums. There has certainly not been a better one since. Some of the drum machine tracks such as Hope and Why Not Smile are reminiscent of Suicide only superior and there are strong melodies throughout.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving up.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)Wow. This the kind of album that you'll listen to once and you'll go back to it again and again. Okay, it doesn't grab your attention form the word go like the rock ballad Monster, or offer as much diversity of emotions and ideas as New adventures in Hi Fi, but Up comes across as a steady trickel of emotional values. Up isn't as forthcoming as most REM records, in fact it's quite bashful, probably oweing to Berry's Departure from the band. But that is this Lp's greatest attribute. Stipe is singing in his least cryptic style ever, best shown in his most open love song to date, At my most beautiful. A kind of sadness perimates the whole album, again possibly due to Berry, best heard in Daysleeper and Falls to climb. This is possibly R.E.M.'s most thought provoking album to date, second only to Automatic for the people and Out of time. Buy it up.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REM's other lost masterpiece.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Up (U.S. Version) (Audio CD)While New Adventures In Hi-Fi was released to somewhat of a fanfare, having been recorded almost entirely on tour (surely a feat of endurance), Up was released with a whimper.
The child of a broken home (NAIHF was the last record made with the assistance of drummer Bill Berry) Up was never going to have it easy.
Still, despite the wonky running order (Airportman is possibly not the best choice of opener) and the fact Up is a bit experimental to be the beginners first choice, there are rich pickings to be had.
Airportman, lyrically is reminiscent of Thom Yorke, and paints a perfect picture of its subject, bleak, maybe, but very effective.
Lotus is glam-rock messed about a bit...Stipe's growling underpinned by Stipe's honey-voiced alter ego.
Suspicion is a quintessential REM ballad, nice chorus, bridge, lovely sentiment...a love song-it picks you up and carries you away..five minutes of bliss.
Hope is based on a grumpy electical riff, the singing somewhat of a monotone, but lyrically amazing.
At My Most Beautiful is Stipes most open love song. He voices the tiny intricacies that make love worthwhile; stupid things we all do but never say. All built upon Mike Mill's beautiful piano part, truly one of the greatest love songs ever written in my mind.
You're In The Air reminds me somewhat of when you're so infatuated with someone that everything arund you reminds you of them..sometimes a terrible feeling and somtimes a beautiful feeling.
Walk Unafraid is a great song, paranoid and based upon some rather strange sounding keyboard battles.
Why Not Smile? is a gentle, almost-love-song...while Daysleeper is Up's most accessible track, featuring an absolutely gorgeous vocal from Stipe, and some wonderful lyrics. The video is worth checking out as well. (shot by the Snorri Bros. in stop frame photograpy methinks...very clean and trippy looking)
Diminished is a little slow to start off with but picks up later on, eventually proving a great track.
Lastly, Falls To Climb is ridden with internecine lyrical content, very effective, paranoid and ultimately beautiful...
Up is not my favourite REM record, that accolade goes to New Adventures, but there is something compellingly gorgeous about it. It sounds anxious as a whole, stopping short of ever letting go. It sounds gently persuasive rather than aggressive, like Monster of NAIHF sometimes did. Dont be put off by those reviews...
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