Part Lies, Part Truth, Part Heart, Part Garbage 1982 -2011
Music review by Sebastian Gahan
There's few bands who can muster a proper two disc, forty track retrospective album and one those bands is without doubt the recently broken up R.E.M. Coming as a (convenient?) bookend to their career up to 2011 it collects tracks from each and every album they released from their obscure, mumble vocal lead magic songs such as Radio Free Europe to their commercial peak with songs such as Everybody Hurts to the their more recent rock flavoured releases. But with so much to choose from their extensive catalogue is this the ultimate R.E.M. collection?
In all honesty this is the kind of album that will please nobody and everybody and perhaps we should look at Part Lies, Part Truth, Part, Part Garbage as a timely collection designed to celebrate the work of one of modern music’s most influential bands rather than a mere compilation album. But despite the inevitable bickering that will occur among fans it's hard to deny the quality of the songs on this album. The first disc alone is worth the price of admission with such classics as the ever affecting ‘Radio Free Europe’, ‘ So.Central Rain’,’ Driver 8’, ‘Orange Crush’ and ‘Stand’. And yes ‘Shiny Happy People’ is there too but as long as you try not to recall the video, however ironic it was intended to be, you should be okay!
On to the second disc and we're well into the Warner Brothers era with ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Man On The Moon’ beginning proceedings. But it's with ‘Nightswimming’ that the excellence begins, with a song that is possibly one of the very best songs the band has produced. As we edge closer to the present day we revisit such songs as the soul searching ‘New Test Leper’, the excellent ‘The Great Beyond’ and mellow sound of ‘Imitation of Life’. From there we reach the final three albums and of the tracks selected possibly only those from Collapse Into Now, their final album proper match the thrill of past releases. ‘Alligator_Aviator_Autopilot_Antimatter’ in particular carries the propulsive thrill of the bands best material and ends the run of previously released tracks.
The last three tracks are new ones recorded especially for the album and whilst they don't add anything spectacular to the canon they are a welcome thank you from a band that has thrilled, entertained, made listeners think and ultimately done much to bring music forward. Perhaps this album doesn't do full justice to the band but arguably that is something that may be impossible. But as a collection of music it's undeniably affecting though and for any fan of the band that is looking for a retrospective it's well recommended.
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