45740-2 Monster
Produced by Scott Litt & R.E.M.
Released on September 26, 1994
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSITION #1 . . .
4x PLATINUM RECORD
Find it at GEMM
45740-2 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 9.0: IT WAS A ROCK MONSTER. Beginning with Out of Time, I stopped telling people I was a fan of R.E.M. Beginning with Monster, I started to tell people I was a fan of R.E.M. again. It was the video for “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” that brought me back on the bandwagon. There was Michael Stipe in his ubercool Sneetches’ shirt, bald and bored, ripping the medium that made them stars (television) with all of the punk rock energy I barely remembered. Turns out they hadn’t sold out or bought in, but merely rented rock’s crown. On the other side of the Atlantic, the same thing was happening with U2 (compare “Lemon” to “King of Comedy”), who was biting the hand with a record called Zooropa. Monster is R.E.M.’s most straightahead rock record to date, trading in the overproduced and overwrought sound of their last two albums for bare-bones rock drenched in reverb and punched up with the unsinkable rhythms of Bill Berry and Mike Mills. Highlights this time include “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?,” “Crush With Eyeliner,” “Bang And Blame” and “Circus Envy.” Although the album was an unqualified success in terms of sales, topping the UK and US charts and going quadruple platinum in the US (yawn, again), the conscious decision to move away from the “pretty” music of their past was received by some as ungrateful and unwelcome. As Stipe sings in “I Took Your Name,” “I don’t wanna be Iggy Pop but if that’s what it takes, hey.” While he’s a far cry from Iggy Pop, Stipe seemed to be channeling the same love-hate relationship with his audience. He’s not alone, however; Peter Buck is every inch the James Williamson to Michael’s Iggy, and the sound he generates with his guitar is nothing short of understated genius. Monster rocks, which is something I haven’t felt about R.E.M. in a long time. It’s not grunge at all, but a return to the garage/punk rock that Buck & company has always admired, tempered with a desire for tasteful experimentation (“Tongue,” “Let Me In”). For those lulled to sleep during the last few albums, Monster is a wake-up call from R.E.M.

TRACK LISTING

  1. WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH?    3:59
  2. CRUSH WITH EYELINER    4:39
  3. KING OF COMEDY    3:39
  4. I DON'T SLEEP, I DREAM    3:25
  5. STAR 69    3:07
  6. STRANGE CURRENCIES    3:51
  7. TONGUE    4:08
  8. BANG AND BLAME    4:48
  9. I TOOK YOUR NAME    4:07
  10. LET ME IN    3:27
  11. CIRCUS ENVY    4:14
  12. YOU    4:52

    All songs by Bill Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe

CREDITS

BILL BERRY --
PETER BUCK --
MIKE MILLS --
MICHAEL STIPE -- photographs, art direction and design
Anë-- backing vocals (8)
Sally Dworski -- backing vocals (3,8)
Lou -- backing vocals (8)
Thurston Moore -- backing vocals (2)
Rain Phoenix -- backing vocals (8)
Lynda Stipe -- backing vocals (8)
Pat McCarthy -- engineer
Chris Bilheimer -- photographs, art direction and design
Keith Carter -- photographs
Jem Cohen -- photographs
Brook Dillon -- photographs
Tom Recchion -- art direction and design
Tilly Balloon Company -- bear image
Greg Fiering -- Migraine Boy

return to R.E.M. discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US/UK/AUSL/GER September 26, 1994 Warner Bros. LP/CS/CD 45740-1/2/4 picture sleeve
CAN 1994 Warner Bros. CD/CS CDW-45740/24 57404  
JPN 1994 Warner Bros. CD WPCR-101  
UK 2005 Warner Bros. CD+DVD 73949-2 w. bonus DVD
AUSL 2008 Warner Bros. 2CD 498375 repackaged w. GREEN

 

SUGGESTED READING

Migraine Boy gets a free plug in the Monster CD artwork, so I figured I'd pass the plug on for the rest of you. I don't get it, but then there are a lot of things I don't get.

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