Blogger's been acting wonky lately (makes me wish I could take the initiative to figure out how to run an RSS-friendly blog from my own damn website, which I'm sure isn't that hard, but I've just got other things to do right now), or I'd've posted this last night: two clips from R.E.M.'s first national TV appearance, on David Letterman. Check it:
I've often said that I wish I'd been around to follow R.E.M. as an up-and-coming band, rather than jumping on the bandwagon with the rest of the world in the 90's (heck, I didn't really start buying music until 1996, so I was really far behind the crest with this band). Seeing these videos only makes that wish more fervent and reminds me that even though I like what they're doing now, I love what they used to do. I mean, I've enjoyed Up and Reveal and Around the Sun as they were released, but none has the staying power of any of their older stuff, any of their--dare I say it?--pre-Bill Berry-departure material. I read in an article a couple years ago that Mike and Michael both love playing around with production in the studio, and that Peter and Bill were the advocates for letting things stand in a more raw form. Now that Bill's no longer there to take Peter's side, he gets outvoted and the music winds up feeling more clinical, more polished, less fierce. Granted, it's hard to maintain the punk sensibility seen in these early clips across a 25-year career, but having seen them in concert (twice!) just a year and a half ago, I know they're still capable of rocking. I only wish it came across more clearly in their albums.
On a lighter note, I love how much hair is present in the videos (both on Michael and Dave), how goshdarn skinny Mike is, and how Peter's wardrobe does not appear to have changed at all in two decades.
If only my almost-two-year-old self had been more into the hip tunes being played on Letterman in October of 1983... *sigh*