||Seven Chinese Brothers
||Southern Central Rain (I’m Sorry)
||Time After Time (Annelise)
||Letter Never Sent
||Rockville, (Don’t Go Back To)
All songs by Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe.
Released: April 1984.
Record Label: I.R.S.
The mistake by those to take immediate affection for R.E.M. and its
contemporaries who comprised the new vanguard of the progressive music
movement was to lump them alongside such artists as Depeche Mode. In fact
R.E.M. felt brethren with Black Flag and the Replacements because the
tendency for this circle was to project depth without acclimation to the
then current trend and fashion. They understood the ''do it yourself'' mantra
which would epitomise the punk explosion of the mid to late Seventies was
indeed practised prior to its existence- if not spoken. Given that
''Reckoning'' was an effort as polite removal from the pervasive fallacy that
would confuse them with ''Just Can't Get Enough'' and ''Blue Monday'' in
addition to -as Bill Berry would state- ''not to make Murmur Two''. ''Murmur''
would extend accomplishment beyond on stage restriction. ''Reckoning'' by
contrast was an attempt to capture on stage accomplishment despite
restriction by R.E.M. up to this point. Indeed all the trademarks one could
expect were evident such as more hooks found then in contemporary hit radio
(''Letter Never Sent'') dense vocals without easy task to decipher
(''Harborcoat'') and Byrds like ringing absorbed through subsequent influence
(''Seven Chinese Brothers''). The band chose to ignore conscious replication
that led Mitch Easter to rely on production values which would differ thus
''Reckoning'' would find completion in less than a month. Dismissed as
inferior when it found comparison to ''Murmur'' ''Reckoning'' in fact featured
strength in tracks well written with more consistency than its immediate
predecessor. ''Southern Central Rain'' could evoke the bitter even in its
third person narrative structure (''Go buy yourself another dream/This choice
it wasn't mine'') and additional uplift is given via Mills brief cameo before
close. The almost rushed introduction by Buck for ''Pretty Persuasion''
tumbles on its audience with authority as Mills and Stipe as an individual
addressing its object of affection are a clenched fist when they demand in
its opening ''This time I want a reason why''. Just as he would on ''Murmur''
Mike Mills lends additional nuance to ''Reckoning'' not just merely with
keyboards towards the climax of ''So. Central Rain'' but with the country
tinged ''(Don't Go Back to) Rockville'' an ode to a significant other of past.
As R.E.M. would finalise this project reference to its manager was heard;
''Jefferson I think we're lost''. At this juncture this was not the case.
R.E.M. it seemed could do no wrong.
By Michael Torno.