Classic Rock - - Helloween -

Speak­ing to Rolling Stone on the eve of the re­lease of Doc­u­ment, R.E.M. gui­tarist Peter Buck said: “We wanted to make a tougheredg­ed, loose, weird, semi live-in­the stu­dio al­bum. I don’t see this as the record that’s go­ing to blast apart the chart, al­though you never know. Weirder things have hap­pened.” Buck got it one part right. His band’s fifth al­bum was more mu­si­cally stri­dent and di­rect than any of its pre­de­ces­sors, yet it also gave R.E.M. a Top 10 sin­gle in Amer­ica with the brood­ing The One I Love, and went on to be­come their first plat­inum-seller.

Up un­til Doc­u­ment, R.E.M. had es­tab­lished a rep­u­ta­tion as the Amer­i­can in­die-rock band most likely to suc­ceed, founded on a se­ries of evoca­tive-sound­ing records wrapped up in Buck’s ring­ing gui­tar and singer Michael Stipe’s oblique lyri­cal im­agery.

Doc­u­ment was recorded in un­der a month in April 1986 in Nashville with fu­ture Nir­vana pro­ducer Scott Litt. By and large, its 11 tracks ran to less than 40 min­utes. Finest Work­song gets the record off to a raw, straight-ahead, clang­ing start, and the rest fol­lows mostly in that vein. Stipe used fire as a re­cur­ring theme to stir up a sin­gu­lar vi­sion of a world shot to hell, matched by Buck’s squalling gui­tar, most specif­i­cally on the breath­less It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

Within 14 months of Doc­u­ment’s re­lease, R.E.M. had signed to Warner Bros and made the sim­i­larly user-friendly Green. Next, in 1991, they un­leashed Out of Time, Los­ing My Re­li­gion… and as­cended to be­come the most her­alded band in the world. PR

“We wanted to make a tougheredg­ed, loose, weird, semi live-in-the stu­dio al­bum.”

R.E.M: didn’t see Doc­u­ment “as the record that’s go­ing to blast apart the chart”.

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