We close out the roaming organ of the seven minute version of Light my fire and move on to the second track, R.E.M. and Finest worksong. It’s not likely to be up there on R.E.M.’s greatest hits or well known to the casual R.E.M. fan. It’s a track though that was released just as R.E.M. were launching themselves on the world, a rise that was paralleled by MTV.
The MTV of today is pretty much unrecognisable to that of the late 80s and 90s. “MTV used to have a rock show later on, about 11pm, and you’d have artists like Alanis Morisette and Primus. R.E.M. would always be on there, they had some great videos. I always remember those three being on all the time, constantly, Primus and Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver all the time. There was seemingly a close relationship with the channel, R.E.M. being one of the first to do an unplugged show. I remember getting that on bootleg, which you did with loads of stuff back then.”
“People know R.E.M. for albums like Automatic for the people and Out of time, more melancholy stuff, an americana, acoustic band. They forget, or don’t know, that R.E.M. were a party band. They were out there playing chicken shacks and pizza places, wherever they could get a gig. They were a band you invited if you wanted a party.”
“This was the first R.E.M. song I ever heard, I had this on a 7″ single, my mum picked it up from a DJ who did PTA discos and stuff. He had some singles they weren’t really suitable for playing at the school discos and this was amongst them. Some stuff in there I wouldn’t admit to even listening to now.”
“This just hit me, in the same way The Doors stood out, this did as well. The starting beat and then that opening line :
The time to rise has been engaged You’d better best to rearrange
“That just sounded so powerful and I was like, man, this is just great. I remember going to school saying to everyone ‘have you heard of R.E.M.?’ They were the band who made me want to pick up the guitar and play properly. I had one already, I bought it trying to prove my music teacher wrong after she’d said that I couldn’t play a right handed guitar left handed. So I got a left handed guitar to show her I could play. But this, listening to R.E.M. was the stuff that made me want to start learning to play properly.
“The B-side to the track was a live medley of sorts ‘Time after time etc’. That was also great, it was a mix of live tracks that they played, but it sounded great. You could heard the audience but they were all listening, all taking it in, there was a great power in that attention. I remember thinking I’d love to be able to command and hold audience attention like that. Just put music out there that people sit and listen to, not even the murmuring you get over the songs when you play some places. It was just great musicianship, I was listening thinking ‘yeah, I want that’ ”