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In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988 - 2003

Release Date: 10.28.03
Record label: Warner Brothers
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


The Best Minus a Few
by: peter naldrett

When I discovered that REM were releasing a greatest hits package, my heart started to beat a little quicker and I became very excited. The schoolboy in me could not wait for the release date. I will be upfront with you and admit that I am an REM nut and have been for the last 15 years. I went to see them twice during their summer tour of the UK, loved it, and have been eagerly looking forward to the arrival of In Time. Especially since their new single, "Bad Day", is easily one of their best. But now that I have it in my possession, I deeply, deeply wish that REM, labelled America’s finest rock band, had not bothered to put it into the shops.

This was a fine opportunity to let fans and sideline admirers to get their hands on a brilliant singles collection, with all of their tunes being in one place. When the band left the IRS label that founded the then Athens, Georgia, four-piece, they put out a “story so far” CD that summed up where they had reached. Since they signed to Warner in record breaking deals, the singles have seen them reach astronomical heights and this should have been a triumphant two disc celebration of the whole affair from 1988 to date.

But, oh no! In Time has only 18 songs on it and of these two ("Animal" and "All The Right Friends") have not been heard all that much before. It immediately became clear that this was failing to be the greatest hits package it should have been. And when you work out that REM have had no less than 28 hits since 1988 you start to wonder whether it was worth picking 16 of them to prop up a so called “greatest” collection. There are bound to be some glaring omissions. How can a best of REM collection leave out the classic, fame-inducing pop of "Shiny Happy People", the incredible power of "Drive", the charming "Strange Currencies" and the deep, meaningful "Find The River"?

Yes, there are still classics on board In Time, and those buying the new CD will surely benefit from having "Stand", "Orange Crush", "Losing My Religion" and "Man On The Moon". But this is not really a full celebration of the successes of Michael Stipe, Mick Mills, Peter Buck and Bill Berry, who retired from the band in the 1990s. This is an opportunity lost. The chance to give fans one of the best singles collections in living memory has flowed past us all. None of this is coming our way. 07-Apr-2004 10:22 PM