Story: This compendium collects every item that appeared in Rolling Stone magazine concerning R.E.M. from 1981 to shortly after the release of Monster in 1995. Album reviews, cover stories, interview features, Random Note mentions and year-end Best Of lists are included, along with a new introduction by writer Anthony DeCurtis.
Review: I checked this book out of the New York Public Library shortly after reading of Bill Berry’s retirement; with the sense that an era was ending, I wanted to try and vicariously experience its beginning. There are a number of fine books on the band on the market, but all of those have the advantage of hindsight to lend perspective and structure to their narrative. The advantage of this book – which most of those other works cite as an enormously helpful reference – is that the story is being written as it happens; neither the band nor the writers know where things are going, so there’s an immediacy and occasional unintended irony as the band’s stature and career evolve. The album reviews and feature stories, by a variety of writers, all have an impressive level of depth, thoughtfulness and clarity – you can see why the band developed a rapport with the magazine, and how that pays off in the quality of the magazine’s coverage.
On the one hand, I’d love to see this book updated, but it’s pretty obvious why that’s not likely: Rolling Stone’s Web archive does the same job and never goes out of date. Still, sometimes I like to get away from the PC and turn the pages myself, which is why I was more than happy to buy my own copy through a used seller.
Author: The Writers of Rolling Stone Magazine
Publisher: Hyperion Press
Pages: 196 pages