Throwback Thursday: R.E.M.’s “Document”

For this week’s Throwback Thursday we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of R.E.M.’s Document by playing tracks from the album.

Document‘s original album artwork featured the phrase “file under fire.”  The designation fits this album maybe more so than any other in the deep R.E.M. catalogue.  Not only is fire prominently used (i.e. screamed) in the chorus of “The One I Love” and also as a recurring lyric throughout the album, it also describes the feeling of the record.  This felt more like a statement than any of their previous albums.  Part of that had to do with the fact that you can, for the first time, actually tell what Michael Stipe is saying on this LP.  Although they had started the transition with Life’s Rich Pageant, early R.E.M. is noted for the mixing of Stipe’s vocals.  They were kept low in the mix and had a notoriously “mumble-like” quality.  The lyrical ambiguity and refusal to include lyrics in the liner notes made the band enigmatic to say the least, which, while intriguing to their devoted fan base, did not spell mainstream success.  Document changed all of that.  Typically seen as the dividing line in the R.E.M. discography, Document cleaned up Stipe’s vocals and brought more clarity to them then ever before.  As a result (to really oversimplify the cause-and-effect) Document went Platinum and produced the band’s first Top 10 hit – “The One I Love.”  The college band from Athens would spend the rest of their career as one of the world’s biggest bands.

Tune in at 5pm today to hear some tracks from the landmark album Document.

By Bentley J. Holt

If you liked this, check out:
Throwback Thursday: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
This Week in Music History


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