17. R.E.M. Automatic For The People

(Warner Brothers, 1992)

The eighth studio album from the Athens, Georgia band R.E.M. was a major critical and commercial success, and the melancholic Automatic For The People rivals Murmur and Reckoning for the title of the band’s best work.

Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Bill Berry and Mike Mills enlisted the help of a number of session musicians to find the haunting and timeless sound they wanted for the album, and those viola and cello players coupled with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones’ string arrangements really succeed in creating a moving listening experience.

From the epic opener ‘Drive’ to the fitting closer ‘Find The River’ (dedicated to Stipe’s late friend, the actor River Phoenix) Automatic For The People resonates with a weary beauty. Stipe’s impassioned vocals give extra gravitas to songs like The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ and ‘Try Not To Breathe’, and it is little wonder the record is a firm fan favourite.

Automatic For The People is a majestic record, and despite its deeply melancholic sound and subject matter it is one which perfectly compliments a long drive out in the American West or South.

Try also: R.E.M Murmur (I.R.S. 1983) Reckoning (I.R.S. 1984)Fables Of The Reconstruction (I.R.S. 1985).