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Lifes Rich Pageant

99 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 10 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B000002UVZ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,405 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Begin The Begin - R.E.M.
2. Hyena
3. Fall on Me
4. Cuyahoga
5. These Days
6. Underneath the Bunker
7. The Flowers of Guatemala
8. I Believe
9. What if We Give it Away?
10. Just a Touch
11. Swan Swan H
12. Superman

Product Description

After a harrowing experience recording their previous album (1985's magnificent Fables Of The Reconstruction), R.E.M. reconvened the following year muttering something about a "poppier" sound. However, old fans were given little to complain about when Life's Rich Pageant was unveiled. Admittedly new producer Don Gehman had cleaned things up; you can even hear what Michael Stipe was singing on a couple of songs. And, yes, there's even a novelty cover ("Superman"). All these factors though, point to a band really enjoying themselves in the studio, from the euphoric clatter of "Begin The Begin" to the poignant waltz-time strum of "Swan Swan H". Highlights? Too many to mention--but it's hard to disagree with Stipe when he cites "Cuyahoga" and the hymnal "Fall On Me" as two of his very best. And, of the extra tracks, an exquisitely bare "(All I Have To Do Is) Dream" runs them damn close. --Peter Paphides --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kerry S. Hale on July 6 2004
Format: Audio CD
Prior to "Life's Rich Pageant", R.E.M. had released a string of four exceptional records that weren't quite rock, not quite folk, not quite pop, and not quite anything. Every one was a masterpiece, in my opinion, but none really rocked from start to finish. "Reckoning" had some pretty fast paced rockers, but they were buried in between mid-tempo and slow numbers that dominated the record. "Life's Rich Pageant" changed that. From the opening riff of "Begin the Begin" to "Superman", the album flies by on a heavy rhythm (R.E.M.'s tightest ever), with fascinating guitar work (Peter Buck's best ever), and words that you can understand (Michael Stipe's second best ever, behind "Fables of the Reconstruction"). The best tracks:
"Begin the Begin"- Probably the strangest riff ever (sounds like a Hindu snakecharmer managed to learn how to play guitar) stuck in the middle of one of R.E.M.'s heaviest songs ever. This song is the perfect way to open the record, and lets you know exactly what you are going to hear for the next forty minutes. Probably the only time R.E.M. opened a record this way.
"These Days"- I think this song is probably the best guitar driven song that R.E.M. has ever recorded. I've never heard anything like it before or since. And talk about fast and driving! If this song doesn't get you going and your blood pumping, you need help.
"Fall on Me"- Almost everyone's heard this one. I like it a lot, but it's not my favorite on the record. Maybe I've just heard it too much.
"Cuyahoga"- The record's high point, in terms of songwriting and performance. The song is so simple and is played with so much restraint that it is engrossing.
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By Reviewer on May 16 2004
Format: Audio CD
"Life's Rich Pageant" is an aptly titled work as it's definitely a lively and rich pageantry of beautiful music.
I especially like the songs "Begin the Begin", "Cuyahoga", and "Superman". However, though the album is rich with some lush and pretty music (it might be the most beautiful upbeat R.E.M. album -- "Automatic for the People" being the most beautiful pensive R.E.M. album) I think its overall quality is a bit less than that of predecessors "Murmur" and "Reckoning" and ancestor "Document".
While representing a bit of a departure from past R.E.M. sound, I'd say that "Life's Rich Pageant" isn't so much a seminal R.E.M. album like "Murmur" or "Out of Time" as it is a bridge between the first three albums ("Murmur", "Reckoning", and "Fables of the Reconstruction") and the two immediately subsequent albums, "Document" and "Green." Songs like "Superman" definitely foreshadow what was to come in those two follow-ups. Other songs, like "Cuyahoga", hearken back more to the three previous albums.
"Life's Rich Pageant" is yet another great R.E.M. record and definitely worth owning. The band's albums are all so good you'll see in each album's reviews, including this one's, a claim by someone saying that that particular album is the band's best. That is the sure sign of a great band.
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Format: Audio CD
Michael Stipe referred to this album in Mojo magazine as being the most like REM that REM has ever sounded. And I'm inclined to agree.
For fans like myself this is the ultimate REM experience. For newcomers, an excellent introduction. For those sitting on the fence, it'll knock you clean to the ground on the REM side.
On previous albums, Stipe's vocals remain firmly buried in the mix, the lyrics practically indecipherable in places. This album shows Stipe's astounding vocal ability off to it's best. Heart-felt, passionate, full of emotion. The lyrics are often cryptic and abstract, yet somehow relevant ; as we've come to expect.
The instrumentation is virtually perfect, and not rooted in the 80's which means that the album hasn't aged at all, it's timeless and classic. This could be REM of the 80's, of the 90's, of the 21st century. Layers of delicate sound, blended to make the rich, soul-inspiring melodies which can lift us up or send us down effortlessly.
Stand out tracks include the beautifully simple "What if We Give it Away?", and the heavier yet controlled "Begin the Begin". The folk-esque "Swan Swan H" sticks in your mind with it's melodic guitar and lilting phrasing, and "Superman" is worth listening to for the harmonies alone. Tremendous.
The pivotal importance of this album in the career of the biggest band in the world today cannot be overplayed. This is the very essence of REM. Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe all at their creative best. Essential.
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Format: Audio CD
Last night, I decided to listen to R.E.M.'s Life's Rich Pageant. Wow. I wonder why I don't listen to it more often. And it's not even my favorite R.E.M. CD.
What grabbed my attention, even after hearing the album several times, is that R.E.M. were so successful in creating a new and unique bite to their sound without sounding like laboring fools or contrived trend-jumpers. Just A Touch and These Days illustrate this perfectly, giving you the clean punch in the teeth that all of us expected, but did not receive, from Monster.
But there is still one foot firmly planted in their original ground with I Believe and Cuyahoga, which sound like they could have fit on Reckoning. Underneath The Bunker, while being a tongue-in-cheek tango, proves to be way more entertaining than the short snipets that R.E.M. considered but threw away (see Dead Letter Office).
Fall On Me has aged very well. This song used to be just a blank page to me, but somehow it clicked with me last night. Maybe it's the way the chorus just repeats itself over and over towards the end. Normally, that agitates me. But with Fall On Me, it mysteriously does not.
Even Superman is good. Mike Mills taking lead vocals on a goofy golden-oldies rock n' roll tune may sound like a blueprint for disaster, but it succeeds. Stipe's harmony perfectly matches Mills' (if any of you have heard live bootlegs of R.E.M. tackling vocal harmonies onstage are familiar with the painful results).
This is not to say that Life's Rich Pageant is 100% perfect. The Flowers of Guatemala and What If We Give It Away? are merely there. But the good far outweighs the not-so-good any day. I love it. And like I said, it's not even my favorite.
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