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Classic Albums

CA37 R.E.M. – Monster (Part 2)

In part two of our two part look at the career of alternative icons R.E.M. we consider posit that the bands 9th studio album, 1994’s Monster, is actually worthy of inclusion in our list of Classic Albums. 

Determined never to repeat themselves, R.E.M. regrouped in 1993 to start work on the follow up to the multi-platinum selling Automatic for the People with the goal of making a loud, raucous rock record and to head out on the road for their first tour in six years. Best laid plans were severely tested in the making of Monster, as the relationship with the band members fell to an all time low, the deaths of close friends River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain severely affected the mindset of Stipe and, with the band being as close as they would ever get to legitimate mainstream celebrities, their relationship with fame confused and unsettled them. The result is an album of confusing, arch, ironic playfulness, that eschews the heart on sleeve approach of Automatic for the People for an album that is often brilliant and often unbalanced, but always interesting, as R.E.M. fucked with their own formula maybe more than they ever have or would. The critical reaction was one of confusion, the fan reaction was one of disappointment, but, 25 years plus down the line, does Monster actually stand up a great record that has been unfairly maligned and misunderstood? Spoiler…. Steve thinks so. 

Available over at patreon.com/riotactpodcast

Categories
Classic Albums

CA37 R.E.M. – Automatic for the People (Part 1)

In the first part of our two part Classic Album Special, we look at the 8th album from Athens, Georgia alternative rock megastars R.E.M., 1992’s Automatic for the People.

After a decade in the US indie underground R.E.M. had achieved a significant mainstream breakthrough after signing to Warners and releasing 1988’s Green and 1991’s Out of Time albums. The latter turned the band into near household names with the success of Losing My Religion, so when they came to record a new album they did so with the pressure of following up a legitimate smash hit. As if that wasn’t enough the musical landscape had been changed hugely with the success of Nirvana’s Nevermind, which made the alternative rock of a band like R.E.M. now the hottest sound in music. But, rather than copy the previous album or try and incorporate the sounds of bands that they themselves influenced, R.E.M. stood staunchly to the belief that their own artistic vision was all that mattered. That vision was to lean on their own sense of mortality as frontman Michael Stipe suffered a series of losses in his personal life and wrestled with feelings of grief and thoughts of his own mortality. It resulted in a record that is slower, more melodic, grander and thematically more reflective than anything that was happening in music at the time. Despite the risks, Automatic for the People would go on to become an even bigger success than any of their previous material, spawning a series of hit singles that remain staples of mainstream rock to this very day.

Go to patreon.com/riotactpodcast to hear part two

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Riot Act

121 – Palm Reader, Billie Joe Armstrong, Hatebreed and Clutch

Steve’s in a festive mood because it’s Thanksgiving and nothing gets him feeling more jolly than celebrating the concentrated slaughter of millions of people… ahhh bliss! But there’s genuinely something to celebrate as the long awaited 4th album from Palm Reader is out. Remfry and Steve review that alongside new albums by Billie Joe Armstrong, Hatebreed and Clutch. And we also correct our errors from last week when stating that there are no bands left to reform … you’ve come back to us in your droves and we cycle through the bands you’d like to see reform who haven’t done so yet. 

We’re delighted to say Riot Act is supported by Signature Brew. Head to https://www.signaturebrew.co.uk and type in the code ‘riotact’ at the checkout to get 10% off your purchase.

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Riot Act

00 – The Venn Diagram of Riot Act Music

Welcome to Riot Act. A brand new podcast for fans of alternative music hosted by Stephen Hill and Remfry Dedman. In this four hour plus opening episode we go through numerous sub-genres, from prog rock to hardcore punk and everything in-between, to compile the ultimate guide to alternative music.

If you love passionate, in depth music chat, bizarre sperm metaphors, and podcasts being interrupted by cats then this might just be your new favourite thing on the internet!