R.E.M. Life’s Rich Pageant was released 25 years ago, but it sounds like something that could have been released right now. This was the record that pushed Michael Stipe’s voice more to the front, some joked they could almost understand the lyrics! It was more Pop oriented than the previous Tales of the Reconstruction which was disappointing in sales (awesome record though.) Fall on Me was their first single to get commercial radio airplay and pushed Life’s Rich Pageant to become the band’s first Gold record.
The Independent (UK) gave it a perfect 100 score and wrote “Twenty-five years ago, Life’s Rich Pageant found R.E.M. metamorphosing from what was effectively a turbo-charged folk-rock cult indie outfit into a proper rock band capable of filling stadiums.”
Uncut also gave it a perfect 100 commenting “R.E.M. were already walking head and shoulders taller than most by now, but Life's Rich Pageant was nevertheless a startlingly great leap forward. “
Pitchfork gave a very high 8.8 out of 10 and recently wrote “It's both epilogue and prologue, yet these songs retain their own specific flavor, as R.E.M. map the borders between small clubs and large venues, between underground and mainstream, between rhythm and melody, between outrage and hope. That in-between quality still sounds invigorating so many years later.”
This is certainly not the only R.E.M. record you should own, but this is a good place to start. Life's Rich Pageant came out right before they became household names, but after becoming the kings of college radio.