Reason #217: Document
After devouring R.E.M.’s debut, Murmur, I kind of lost track of this band for three years, and then Document was released. It would be the last R.E.M. album I would own for decades. That’s not a slam on Document, but Green, the follow up, an album I found plain as Melba toast.
Document had some hits (major and minor), too, which launched them from college radio darlings to MTV giants: The One I Love, Finest Worksong and It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). All three rank among the best the band would ever release, in my humble opinion, anyway. Even with the increased exposure R.E.M. held on to their “biggest underground band in the world” tag, and Document still sounds like that weird little band on Murmur and Reckoning, but with a better producer. This would be their last great album. That statement won’t be popular with most fans, many of whom cite 1991’s Automatic For The People as the band’s high water mark. That album was far too dirge-like for my tastes, just a drag to get through and certainly didn’t beg repeated listening sessions.
Michael Stipe’s political leanings started to become more pronounced (Finest Worksong, another excellent track), but not nearly as overbearing as he would become, which is yet another reason to embrace this record. The remainder of the songs, while not quite up to par with those already mentioned, are still sturdy, pretty darn good pop songs and take away nothing from the album as a whole.