Lifes Rich Pageant 25 Year Anniversary

I blogged a bit ago about how much the album Lifes Rich Pageant affected me as a young college student. It may help readers to review that post before you go forward with this one. It was sort of like I was holding a meteor or other object that I simply couldn’t identify – I was listening to it and wondering what I had been doing listening to so much crap over the years. The album just took me places I had never been musically and I never looked back from there.

To celebrate (make money?) the 25th anniversary of the release of LRP, they have come out with a remastered version of the album. I decided to buy it for a couple of reasons. First, the only copy I have of LRP is my old vinyl from the college days. That particular piece of history is like a time capsule to me – it isn’t just an album for me, it is the sound of my youth. So I needed a copy and am too lazy/busy to do the ipod thing so I bought the cd set to listen to in my car on the way back and forth to work. The second reason I bought it was that the set comes with some demo tapes of the songs from LRP along with a few others from that time period.

So, I think a short review is in order. I think that the new remaster is both good and bad. It is much easier to pick out each instrument in the remix. I seem to remember the album sounding much more like a band and it being more difficult to pick out individual parts. It isn’t better or worse, just different. I also thought the mix was too heavy on the treble, and didn’t have enough bass. I adjusted my car stereo and it sounded fine.

As for the music, well, I have already droned on about how much I love this album, so I don’t see the need to review that. If you don’t own it, get it today in one form or another.

I can review the demos. Unless you are a diehard fan of this disc and REM in this time period, I wouldn’t recommend it. I enjoyed a lot of the demos (called the Athens demos) and it was cool to hear drops in a song where there wasn’t one, and other little things like that. The coolest thing to me was the two verses in Cuyahoga where they didn’t have any vocals. I was happy to provide them in the car since I know every word. If you are as big a fan of this album as I am you will find some very neat things in the demos.

The liner notes were a little whiny and a bit stupid at times, but I learned a bit from them anyway.

Interesting what you get with a CD these days. I haven’t actually purchased any music since I got satellite radio a decade or so ago and was sort of taken aback at all this crap that came along with the discs.

Do they actually expect forty something folks (I assume the market they are trying to hit with this item) to put that poster up on their wall? I mean no kids are going to buy this, are they? Who, exactly is going to hang this poster, I wonder.

I do like the little photos of the band members from that era, and will probably make a wall hanging featuring those and the actual album I own of LRP from college. My kids will probably ask me how that thing actually makes music – in fact it doesn’t in my house anymore since I don’t have a record player.

Times change, but this album will always be one of my favorites. That will never change.

Cross posted at LITGM.

15 thoughts on “Lifes Rich Pageant 25 Year Anniversary”

  1. There is no one, revelatory album for me. For me there were a few albums that had that impact. Ramones, Rocket to Russia was the first one. The first US Clash album was the next one. The Sex Pistols album next. Then, the Velvet Underground and Nico. Then Setting Sons by The Jam. There were a few years there, age 17 to 20 when it was like the tide coming in musically, new stuff and discovering old stuff and finding people who liked the same stuff, and local bands that were influenced by all this. It was a great time.

  2. “Murmur” is the REM album that affected me the most. I just put it on, after your article reminded me of the band.

    currently I am in the predicament of having more music than I can keep track of in my head (> 2000 albums, > 25k songs). there is a fascinating world of cultural preservation, apparently banned from discussion here. too bad, as my musical horizons were exploded in all dimensions over the space of about 2 years. now i just have to come up with a way to categorize and organize it all.

    just bought an audiophile portable music player and set of AKG headphones that produce music decribed simply as…sublime.

    my desktop system has all NuForce; the digital stream is fed from the PC straight into the amp’s DAC, bypassing the PC sound card altogether. superb soundstaging and pretty decent dynamics. won’t go real loud, but is very pretty sounding. here’s a link to a review of my exact setup:

    only posting this in case anyone else here is into high quality music reproduction.

  3. I have no idea about that banned quote either. To the comment though, why have all of those discs/recordings/mp3’s? Just get satellite radio like I did – you only have so many hours in the day anyway.

    Good on ya for playing Murmur. So great.

  4. My observation is that people get very interested in music do so at that stage of life.

    I could theorize about why that is. But it is an observable fact, whatever the reason.

  5. Murmur, yes; but the Stones’ Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, and Some Girls defined my framework of music: for me. It’s the Holy Trinity.
    Others were very important: Marshall Crenshaw; U2’s Joshua Tree; Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road (sorry), and Cheap Trick, In Color. That said: Once you define your own personal gold standard, others come to be addenda more often than not.
    Just my utterly biased, uninformed $.02.

  6. i had a post deleted (without explanation) that referenced the availability of an out-of-print tv mini-series as a “bootleg”, so i assumed such things were verbotten.

    satellite radio is ok, but it is like looking for treasure on the airport carousel. you might get lucky, once in a great while, and have a treasure come into view. but the great majority of the time you sill see the same “bags” coming around, again and again. my collection represents far more distinct content than any radio channel(s) is going to provide, and it gives me choice over what to listen to.


  7. Cjm – I would chalk that up to an over aggressive spambot unless it was totally inflammatory, or was loaded with links. Posts that have a lot of links always get swallowed.

  8. REM was great when they recorded in such a manner that the sound was focused on the band. Michael Stipe’s vocals were an instrument, the words were a necessary part of the songs but what mattered was how his singing the lyrics contributed to the total sound of the band. REM in that period was creative and vital, and brought something important to the world of rock-oriented music.

    Then they began to regard themselves as important artists, and Mr Stipe in particular became self-conscious in ways they hadn’t been before. Recordings focused more on the sound of individual instruments, and lyrics had to have meaning and to express some of that self consciousness. Sadly, REM then became just another band, capable of a few individually good songs, but no longer a great album band. Green was the last mostly positive album, then the scales shifted to a mixture of good music and embarrassing dreck.

    Not surprising, all artists go through changes, sometimes in interesting directions, mostly to entropy.

    Thanks for this post, a reminder of better days in that band’s past.

  9. “…all artists go through changes…”

    Johnny Ramone put it best. “Bands always want to change. And when they change they suck. I swore that the Ramones would never change.” He almost succeeded, and to the extent The Ramones did not change they never sucked. Live, especially, they were as reliable as the sun rising in the East.

  10. Bands seem to be like restaurants. Once they find a formula that gets business they risk alienated current fans/customers by changing the formula.

  11. Dan D – great observation.

    Cjm – my brain won’t let your recorded music quandry go. After working on it, I have come up with a sort of weird concept. I still say you should just get satellite radio and here is why.

    You say that you have > 2,000 albums. Lest say exactly 2,000 to make my coming math easy. Lets say that each album is 45 minutes. Some will be longer, some will be shorter, but again, for math ease lets say 45 minutes each. That is a total of 90k minutes of music = 1500 hours.

    Most people work 8 hours a day, and we need to knock off another 8 for things like sleep, travel to and from work, etc. That leaves 8 hours per weekday to do other things, and 16 hours on Saturday and Sunday (this is assuming a standard 40 hour workweek job, obviously).

    If you did nothing but listen to your music collection in all of your spare time (72 hours per week: 5 weekdays x 8 hours = 40 + 2 weekend days x 16 hours = 32) it would take you 20.83 weeks just to get through your current collection – ONCE. And remember the true total is actually >2000 albums so we are approaching a half of a year of your life to get through the collection if you do nothing but listen to music in all of your spare time. Of course most humans could not do this so realistically we are looking at a full year to get through the whole thing if you really wanted to do it.

    So what is the point of this pretty simple math experiment? I guess I am not sure. I sold/got rid of all of my cds years ago. Granted music isn’t a passion of mine like it appears to be yours, but I just didn’t understand why I had all of these tunes laying around when there was no way I had the time or energy to listen to them all. Not saying your music collection isn’t great and it is a fine hobby – I just don’t see the need for that much music when you can get pretty much any type of music at any time on satellite radio. Of course, YMMV.

  12. dan,

    well, partly i am one of nature’s “collectors” by nature :) but I genuinly do love music. my job involves being at a computer all work day so that’s 8 hours of listening 5x a week. then i have a 2+ hour commute each day so that’s another 10 hours a week. each week-end i spend about 4 hours a day in my garage/sanctuary for another 8 hours a week. when you have that much listening time, a wide variety of titles is critical.

    but aside from the musical aspect of my collection, there’s also the cultural and historical aspects. one title i ganked, involved taking Byzantine texts and recreating the instruments and music of a 1000 years…i don’t think you will find that on xm :) most of the titles include scans of the covers and sometimes booklets that came with the original recordings.

    the non-musical aspects of collecting — which only began once i became aware of all the preservation sites — really surprised me. it has opened up all kinds of new thoughts, and given me a richer intellectual life. in short, it changed me in a very positive way — much more so than 99.999% of the new music being produced.

    as a side note, there is a fascinating dynamic going on out there in contentland. new commercial content is stored on offshore servers, with abstract names that don’t tell you what is actually in a given file. then a second site wil put up a description of that conent, along with a kind of hidden link. now 3rd parties can access the content for free/slow, or they can sign up with the offshore site for $10/month of unlimited high speed access. the site with the descriptions and links to the content site gets a percentage of the membership fees, based on the content being accessed. so in effect, the true value of all commercial content is approximately the cost of the bandwidth and storage costs. and by content i mean anything that can be digitized.

  13. Cjm- that is interesting wrt the offshore servers. If you can listen to music all day at your job, that makes your case more strongly that is for sure. Nice hobby and great that you are getting so much out of it! I have a couple of hobbies too and people don’t really understand what I am doing either so I guess it is sort of the same thing.

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