B0013032-02 Reckoning
Machinists: Don Dixon and Mitch Easter
Released on April 9, 1984
U CHART POSITION #91 . . . US CHART POSIITON #27 . . .
GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
B0013032-02 cover
[high resolution scan]

R adio Free Europe had felt like a rallying cry. There was no rallying cry on Reckoning. It was a good album whose best song (“So. Central Rain”) sounded like an updated version of David Bowie’s “An Occasional Dream.” Three of the album’s best tracks--“Harborcoat,” “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” “7 Chinese Bros.”--had been in the band’s live repertoire before Murmur, from which you could draw the conclusion that even the best of Reckoning wasn’t good enough for Murmur. So why do fans rally around Reckoning? Because it’s the more prototypical of the band’s first two albums. R.E.M. seems to have lightened up since Murmur, Peter Buck’s arpeggios are in fine form, and (perhaps most importantly) Michael Stipe appears comfortable in his role as lead singer and lightning rod. Nothing on Reckoning is required listening, yet the album is classic R.E.M. all the same. You can feel it in the dreamy, jangly, Byrdsian guitars. You can hear it Mike Mills’ yearning voice (though the harmonies would click better, later). Where Murmur was militant, Reckoning is innocent. Nothing on their second album sounded like Gang of Four; instead, the shadows of sunnier Englishmen like The Smiths and Echo & The Bunnymen could be seen. An appearance on the David Letterman Show in late 1983 set the tone for the transition. They played two songs: the shocking “Radio Free Europe” and the charming “So. Central Rain.” Like a lot of bands, R.E.M. wanted to change the world with their first album. On their second, they just wanted to make the next forty minutes a better place to be. They succeeded, and both critics and fans took notice of the fact. Of interest, many of the song lyrics allude to water, and the album was even subtitled “File Under Water” on the album spine. Water means life, death and a bunch of other things I suppose (including water). I’m not really sure what Stipe had in mind with the water imagery or the two-headed snake on the cover, but I’ll promise to ignore it if you do. [Deluxe Edition note: It's a nice repackage, but the live disc didn't ignite my world or anything. Maybe early versions of "Hyena" and "Driver 8" or a cover of VU's "Femme Fatale" will ignite yours, I don't know.]

TRACK LISTING

  1. HARBORCOAT
  2. 7 CHINESE BROS.
  3. SO. CENTRAL RAIN
  4. PRETTY PERSUASION
  5. TIME AFTER TIME (ANNELISE)
  6. SECOND GUESSING
  7. LETTER NEVER SENT
  8. CAMERA
  9. (DON'T GO BACK TO) ROCKVILLE
  10. LITTLE AMERICA

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

    The I.R.S. Years CD Reissue bonus tracks
  11. WIND OUT
  12. PRETTY PERSUASION (LIVE)
  13. WHITE TORNADO (LIVE)
  14. TIGHTEN UP
  15. MOON RIVER

    Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc (Live at the Aragon Ballroom)
  16. FEMME FATALE
  17. RADIO FREE EUROPE
  18. GARDENING AT NIGHT
  19. 9-9
  20. WINDOUT
  21. LETTER NEVER SENT
  22. SITTING STILL
  23. DRIVER 8
  24. SO. CENTRAL RAIN
  25. 7 CHINESE BROS.
  26. HARBORCOAT
  27. HYENA
  28. PRETTY PERSUASION
  29. LITTLE AMERICA
  30. SECOND GUESSING
  31. (DON'T GO BACK TO) ROCKVILLE

CREDITS

BILL BERRY --
PETER BUCK --
MIKE MILLS --
MICHAEL STIPE --
Howard Finster -- artist

return to R.E.M. discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK April 9, 1984 I.R.S. LP IRSA-7045 picture sleeve
US April 17, 1984 I.R.S. LP/CD SP/CD-70044 avail. in brown vinyl
JPN 1984 I.R.S. LP 28AP-2847  
GER 1992 I.R.S. CDX 7131592 The I.R.S. Years reissue w. bonus tracks
JPN   EMI/I.R.S. CDX TOCP-53567 The I.R.S. Years reissue w. bonus tracks
US 1996 Mobile Fidelity LP/CD MFSL1-261/UDCD-677 gatefold cover, original master recording
US 2009 I.R.S. LP B0013029-01 180g vinyl
US 2009 I.R.S. 2CD B0013032-02 Deluxe Edition w. bonus live disc
UK 2009 Universal LP 2707469 180g vinyl
UK 2009 Universal 2CD 2707622 Deluxe Edition w. bonus live disc

 

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