I used to love this band so much back in the day. It was my first taste of "alternative" (along with the Violent Femmes), and I still pull out the old "LPs" once a year or so.
But I never got over what happened in the 90s.
While I do think fans of R.E.M. are usually pre-Out of Time or post-Out of Time (barring the few songs from Document and Green that were played to death), Out of Time isn't the band's worst album from the 90s, in my opinion.
Out of Time was actually pretty good once you got over a few songs. It was still "alternative" music. If you think back, alternative hadn't quite become mainstream at that point and there were enough indecipherable lyrics and jangly guitars on the album that it still had a passing resemblance to the R.E.M. of old. Yes Losing My Religion made the band huge the same way Stand made it huge in 1989. But it was still modern rock, not mainstream rock. I'm not one of those insufferable fools who will say "Shiny Happy People killed R.E.M."
Automatic for the People was more of the same for me. It was the anti-grunge R.E.M. There was more crap on there, but no more or less than what was on Out of Time.
What really killed R.E.M. in my opinion was Monster. I bought it, listened to it exactly twice, and have never played it again. Then the insufferable E-Bow the Letter came out from New Adventures in Hi-Fi and I was officially done with R.E.M. Hard to believe that was 15 years ago.
Which brings us to now and what is apparently the final R.E.M. release - a greatest hits compilation of sorts. One convenient release for fans of what I call the Two R.E.M.s - pre-Out of Time and post-Out of Time.
I wouldn't buy this release, simply because I intentionally didn't buy most of the albums represented on the second disc, and everything I want on the first disc I already have. Plus, even the early parts of the band's career are not well represented on this one. If you're reading this and you are seriously thinking of buying an R.E.M. compilation, buy the one that came out in 2006 that focuses more thoroughly on the band's early years.
However I will happily predict the rating this one will get on that other site. It's easy actually: it will be 7.8.
Actual rating: 9.4. Point differential: 1.6. Oops!