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Document

Alternative Rock album by R.E.M.

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Intelligent, blurred, snarlingly obtuse: college rock

  • Aug 26, 1999
Rating:
+3
Great start all the way through "The One I Love." Then, boredom except for one of their loveliest, "King of Birds," with that raga-rock pattern echoing the, uh, Byrds. The beginning of the ablum, with what on vinyl made perfect sense as Side One, is still their "Abbey-Road side two"--their most assured and sustained continuous slab of tunes.

The typewriter in "McCarthy," the industrial thrust of "Worksong," the telegraphic "Strange," the cryptic fable "Heron," and the (weakened only by overplay on radio--not REM's fault!) "ITEOFTWAWKI (AIFF)": what a line-up! "Occupation" is a bit too much after "Mc" and "Worksong" when it comes to stabs at topicality in Reagan times, but it still makes a metaphor fresh enough, I guess, compared to the dreck that passed for much of pop music then and even more now. Old fogy, hmm?

Which makes the slip-off on side two puzzling, as if they had not learned to stop repeating the muddle of "Fables" and the so-so songs on much of "Pageant, like "Swan Swan H." It's as if they willfully sabotaged what they'd set in motion. "A pistol hot cup of" obscure Southern regionalisms, anyone? The decline on Side Two does derail this record somewhat, but the rush of the first songs and the beauty of "King of Birds" still manage to add up to one of REM's best.

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More Document reviews
review by . September 10, 2006
'Document' is arguably R.E.M.'s best album. That's a pretty bold statement, considering R.E.M. has had the best roll of studio albums of any group since the Beatles. Now just like the latter, critics and fans could easily pick out 'Murmur,' 'Out of Time,' and 'Automatic for the People' as their magnum opus; however, there is at least enough evidence to put 'Document' at least among their top works.    It must be conceded that not all of the lyrics make sense. However, it doesn't …
review by . June 27, 2003
Considering that this was R.E.M.'s strongest collection of songs since their debut, there's a strange sense of uncertainty about the whole project.You listen to the first four cuts and think "Aha, another political statement from the band that brought you Lifes Rich Pageant the previous year." Taken together, "Finest Worksong," "Welcome to the Occupation," "Exhuming McCarthy" and "Disturbance at the Heron House" sound very much like a sort of State of the Union address. In each cut you get a different …
About the reviewer
John L. Murphy ()
Ranked #13
Medievalist turned humanities professor; unrepentant but not unskeptical Fenian; overconfident accumulator of books & music; overcurious seeker of trivia, quadrivia, esoterica.      … more
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Wiki

Singer Michael Stipe finally confesses that even he doesn't know what he's trying to say--among the lines flying by are "tryin' to tell you something we don't know" and "there's something going on that's not quite right." But R.E.M.'s roar is at its sharpest, as Peter Buck's guitars twist up surf riffs and the Bill Berry-Mike Mills rhythm section captures the force of forebearsBig Starand theByrds. After half a decade of college-rock heroism, R.E.M. achieved its first hit album thanks to the rambling "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and the gentle (but subtly barbed) "The One I Love."--Steve Knopper
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Details

Label: Capitol
Artist: R.E.M.
Genre: Alternative Rock
Release Date: January 27, 1998
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