The recording difficulties the band underwent must have been unfortunate, as Joe Boyd to me seems the ideal producer (if you can't have Mitch Easter! Surely better than Don Gehman of JCougarM infamy, or Scott Litt's air-guitar hit-making efforts.) The mystery of REM which may annoy casual fans comes through like the fog, and it's not an album to start with for REM. But, only after every other album, would this one be fully appreciated and grasped. It's a slow courtship.
"Good Advices," by the way, is charmingly played on the REM cover-tribute cd "Surprise Your Pig," by an Italian band--this made me appreciate the original much more. The also rather-obscure "Green Grow the Rushes," "Auctioneer," "Maps and Legends" and especially "Life and How to Live It" all hold up well in retrospect, and even some of the ornery, sluggish songs seem suited to the mood of this record: longing, wistful, lonely, brooding.
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