12 March 2007


You're gonna have to take my word for it, but back when I was in high school (1980-1984) I told all my friends that REM was destined to be one of the greatest and biggest bands in rock'n'roll history...Of course, my friends were all metal heads and punks, and they laughed their asses off, and I can certainly recall the term "fag rock" being bandied about on numerous occasions, but I didn't care.

So, when it was announced several months ago that REM had been inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame, you can bet yr ass that I contacted the few friends I still maintain from those years and basically rubbed it in their fucking faces. And in hindsight, all those hair metal bands and their requisite spandex looked a hella lot more homosexual than the boys in REM.

Their debut EP, Chronic Town, was good, and I liked it, but it wasn't until the release of Murmur that I was convinced of their greatness then, and their potential to become legendary. That was also the album that made REM my favorite band, which they remained for the next decade. These days, REM is no longer my favorite band, but I always say they'll always remain my "sentimental favorite", and I still listen to 'em with regularity. And who knows, if Bill Berry had remained in the band, they may still be my favorite band to this day, which is my way of saying that they lost a hella lot more than anyone thought when Berry left. He and Mills were an ass-tight rhythm section, dig?

In hindsight, what's important to know about REM, aside from the great music, is what they meant to "indie rock", or as it was called back then, "college rock". You see, the indie scene as we know and love it today, didn't really exist the way it does now. It took REM, and a small handful of similar bands, to prove to the music industry as a whole that smaller bands could thrive, and labels could make money, underneath the radar of the mainstream media and the Billboard charts. This was the era when college radio coalesced and rallied around these bands, and conversely, when these bands began enjoying this newfound network of stations. One hand washed the other, so to speak, and everyone's profile increased. We're seeing the same dynamic at work today with the blogosphere, where "marginal" bands can find at least a certain level of success that can sustain them. Where would The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, or The Decemberists be without the internet? Hard to say for sure, but I'd be willing to bet their successes wouldn't be nearly as noticeable. That's what college radio meant to REM back then, but in this chicken and egg scenario, college radio would never have exploded the way it did back then without REM. Name any other band you want from that decade, and I will tell you without hesitation that REM was far and away the most important band of that era. That they were a truly great band was just the icing. I could write all night about how and what they meant to me personally, but I've really got to get to bed.

Congratulations Mike, Bill, Michael and Peter. You've earned it all.

Hotcha! Hank

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

REM on WMSE..if the reception was good. Never on WLPX nor WQFM

March 13, 2007 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Hank for the clip of Radio Free Europe...ahhh vinyl.

Along with your ever insightful discourse a perfect gift for my 42nd birthday.

42 at home/43 on the road...

March 13, 2007 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A tangential aside from other people's lives..Ray Davies.
My favourites..After The Fall and Thanksgiving Day.

March 13, 2007 8:08 PM  
Blogger Hank Mohaski said...

Indeed, you'd never hear REM on LPX or QFM...LOL, it's good to know some other dinosaur from the Milwaukee area is checking in to HOT POOP!

March 13, 2007 8:45 PM  
Blogger Hank Mohaski said...

Happy birthday, anon #2...

Man, the few folks who comment on this neglected blog are all anonymous...

What's up with that?

Regardless - thanks for reading!


March 15, 2007 5:49 PM  

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