I have to say, I never realized just how many hit songs R.E.M. has had over the last 15 years. R.E.M. does not particularly stick out as an incredibly influential band, but listening to their new greatest hits album, In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003, one is forced to look a little more closely at their impressive body of work.

This album is chock-full of fun radio hits from the ’90s and a few newer ones as well. Even people who don’t own a single R.E.M. album will recognize songs like “Man on the Moon,” “Losing My Religion” and “Stand.” But, because so many of the 18 songs on this album are very well-known and overplayed, true R.E.M. fans will find a lack of the deeper, lesser-known cuts that made them fans in the first place.

Though the album is pretty comprehensive in terms of their commercial success, important hits like “It’s the End of the World (And I Feel Fine)” and “The One I Love” were somehow left out, though a few lesser-known, but musically impressive songs like “Daysleeper” and “Nightswimming” were included.

Far more impressive than the album itself is the second disc of the set entitled “Rarities and B-Sides.” This is the true redeeming factor of this album, throwing in 14 additional live tracks, demos and dubs. The most impressive of the bonus material is the song “Star Me Kitten,” a song performed by R.E.M. but sung by beat poet extraordinaire William S. Burroughs. In his raspy, deep voice he sings “Fuck me kitten / You are wild” which borders between being absolutely hilarious and seriously frightening. If for nothing else, this song makes the entire album worthy in my book.
[Brenna Boyce isn’t afraid to throw some gentlemanly masher-like left hooks.]