Last autumn, when REM finally called it a day, the most common gag was to say you hadn’t known they were still together. And, okay, maybe they hung on longer than they should have. (Though ask yourself how many jobs you quit, how many relationships you ended, how many flats you left just when you should have?)
But in their eighties heyday they were little short of a vital band, and they were hardly slouches even when the nineties rolled by. Watching their episode-length appearance on ’Later With Jools Holland’, repeated on the BBC last Friday, I was set back by how much they were still kicking in ’98 – a full year after Bill Berry had left the band.
I had even completely forgotten about this track, ’Country Feedback’, despite having the album it’s on (’Out of Time.’) When you can write a song as powerful and self-assured as that and it just vanishes into your set-list... that suggests a band who were doing something right. Heard now, it inevitably starts to sound like it’s about the breakup of the group - despite being written twenty years too early for that.
PS: Sorry about that aggravating bloody logo which seems almost tatooed on Stipe’s forehead, it’s the best YouTube can offer. (When will they learn that such practises make us loathe and despite Aimersoft, whatever that bloody is, rather than rush out and buy it?) If you have access to the I-Player, you may be able to watch the whole thing without it intruding. (Because of course we all disapprove of things like this.)