Landmark Albums Pt. 2

Fast forward a few years, and I have transferred to Florida. I’m

browsing through a used record store in Orlando when I come across a

pile of singles. There is a gray abstract photo on one, with R.E.M.’s

name on it. It was the "Radio Free Europe" single, which that year took

music critics by storm and was named to the Village Voice’s Top 10

list. Listening to it was like crystallizing so many band influences

that I loved, yet it was so original in its optimism and energy. Mitch

Easter did a helluva job producing it. Michael Stipe did a helluva job


I heard it the other day, unexpectedly, when I left my iPod on shuffle

(the band released it years later on a best-of disc) and was still

thrilled to hear the strange mechanical hum intro, Bill Berry’s simple

drum lead-in and Peter Buck’s (yes, I hate to use the term) jangly

guitar. It sounded like youth.

Oh, and I still have the vinyl single.

We continue our series on life-changing records by the music scribes here at the Planet. This time, Wayne "Poho" Garcia, whose interests go well beyond mere politics, weighs in on his:


R.E.M, Radio Free Europe/Sitting Still (original 7-inch single on Hibtone) I was a student at the University of Georgia in the late 1970s. Athens was just starting to simmer its original music scene that became so well known a decade later. The B-52s had just left town for NYC. Some of my freshman dorm roomies went and saw their last Athens show. For me, the highlight of my GA musical experience came at Tyrone’s OC, a club that featured mostly punkish and rockabilly acts. One night I wandered into a set by a brand-new band called R.E.M. I don’t dance, but I was compelled to by the power of the act. It was the single most affecting night of live music I have ever witnessed. Michael Stipe bounded around the stage while the band played covers like the Clash’s “Ivan Meet’s GI Joe.”

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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