3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Stranger Than Fiction,
This review is from: "R.E.M.": Fiction - An Alternative Biography (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