I remember before Monster came out that R.E.M. were talking about how they were going to put away the mandolins and string sections and just make a rock record like they would have done back in the beginning. Needless to say, Monster was not that record. This should have been that record. I remember being so excited, because I'd picked up this bootleg a couple of years before and knew how shit hot they were before they even had a record deal. So Much Younger Then captures them onstage sometime in 1981, probably at Tyrone's, absolutely destroying with a whole set of songs that never made it onto any of their official albums. I still can't fathom why they never put these out. Sure, Chronic Town and Murmur turned out to be masterpieces of new southern gothic, but these songs could have easily caused just as much of a stir had they been their first release.
So Much Younger Then exemplifies so much of what used to make R.E.M. special—fantastic tunes, a wicked sense of humor, and the ability to play like a band on fire. Just listen to them burn through these songs like they were already superstars. As great as they went on to be, they may never have topped this night.
1. Body Count
2. A Different Girl
4. Narrator (for the Jacques Cousteau Show)
5. She's Such a Pretty Girl
6. Baby I
7. Permanent Vacation
10. Liza Sez
11. Mystery To Me
12. I Don't Want You Anymore
13. Little Girl
14. Dangerous Times
1. Also on the list, Belle & Sebastian, They Might Be Giants, Smashing Pumpkins, and Poi Dog Pondering. Currently "on notice"? Of Montreal. God, but that last album managed to suck and blow at the same time.
I'm not talking about a band who just isn't as good as it used to be (like The Cure, or The Breeders) that still insists on putting out albums that are sad shadows of their former selves. Bands Who Have Wronged Me have actively worked to destroy and deny all that once made me love them. I can forgive a band for running out of steam, for putting out a boring album, or just trying to cash in on past glory. But when a formerly great band decides to take a big steaming dump on their art, their legacy, and their potential, and then insist they're doing the greatest work of their career and that we should all be nicer to them...well, that just makes me enraged.
2. The back of the album lists one more song, A Girl Like You, but for whatever reason, it doesn't actually appear on the record. Supposedly there is a companion bootleg called Georgia Peaches—Ripe! that continues the show, but I haven't been able to find it anywhere.