Since i haven’t been born when the first two LP’s by REM saw the light, i cannot say my own experience in those years in the early 80’s, especially considering that i am a mexican and that the context in which i write these impresions are completely different from those in the US.
First of all, you should know that the records industry here in Mexico in the 80’s and early on, was utterly poor. The only way that you could get a foreign record was if someone you knew went abroad, so you could ask him to buy some records for you. With this situation, i can assure that the exposure to foreign music was very limited; perhaps only the pop mainstream bands/soloists could get a space in some radio stations.
It’s a shame that here in mexico we didn’t had a “college radio” phenomenon, or something like that. so i have to admit that the context in which we mexicans received REM’s music was a complete thing if compared with the US case.
First of all, my impresion is that here in Mexico we are completely unaware about the impact that Murmur and Reckoning had in the indie scene. It’s very interesting the way foreign cultures receives another cultural expressions and translates them in something different. I think that very few people consider REM a indie band; once again, remember that it was extremely difficult to get new rock records before the 90’s here. Nonetheless, the ones that are acquainted with the band, with their influence in other bands (i was completely annoyed to read in Cobain’s diaries that he was a huge fan of REM; it’s a fact that Eddie Vedder and Thom Yorke, to name a few, consider the Athens band a major influence or motivation to their music), realize that with those first two records happened something similar with what happened with the first Velvet Underground LP: many people that heard those records started a band.
I think that nowadays, here and everywhere, things have changed. Fortunately, we have an immense exposure to a huge catalogue of music from new bands that are raising every minute. I wish that all of them knew the effort, the spirit and the impact that REM had in the development of the indie music. Indie in the 80’s and indie in the new millenium are not the same. All of these new indie bands should have in their catalogues the presence of Murmur and Reckoning because historically they represent a step in music’s evolution.
Songs like “Perfect Circle” and “Harborcoat” still amaze me because of their strong, though juvenile body. I think that in the year 2009 these albums have something that makes them immortal, complete classics, this is: works that estimulate another impresions, another interpretations, for new generations. Hearing “Talk about the passion” makes me feel young, makes me realize that i’m young (im only 24) . i think that’s the main virtue of these two albums: they represent the development to this “indie” thing, and they still represent the expression of passionate, youthful, and emancipated artists.