I was getting concerned that Pitchfork would not give 'Reckoning' its due, but it came through just before the July 4th holiday, and never too late.
Pitchfork exploded again with giving Reckoning a perfect 10 rating, making plenty of great arguments as to its place as one of R.E.M.'s best albums:
Declaring Reckoning to be R.E.M.'s "best" album sells short just how many different kinds of great albums R.E.M. have released. But, more so than any other R.E.M. record, Reckoning is unified and energized by the very restlessness that has driven the band to explore so many different ideas and identities. It is this paradoxical engine of transparency and mystery that has made the band so unique, regardless of the particular approach they choose to take for a given record. Any way you look at it, this is R.E.M.
While they surely do not have to sell me on this news, a definitive review and perfect score continue to sell the premise of the importance of this album on rock music.
R.E.M’s Reckoning was the second full length and third major release by R.E.M. In terms of their earlier material it was a much more direct album, not relying on the studio to create an atmospheric record but rather incorporate more of the band’s live sound rather than their studio talents on Murmur and Chronic Town.
As I have written before, it was the first of their albums that I had significantly appreciated and made me yearn for more.
That being said, reissues often have the task of trying to exemplify a purpose for the release. For example, is the reissue out of print or severely needing of remastering for it to limits of technology from years prior?
In the case of these deluxe editions, the point has always been to bring a sense to the world that R.E.M. existed 25 years ago. Reckoning, and it’s predecessor ‘Murmur’ were two of the most important contributions to the decade of the 80’s slowly changing Rock music from being defined by synths and to a guitar/bass/drums genre. Along the way, R.E.M. led the way for other acts, especially from America, inspired by the Punk Movement and using the tools it provided to provide a much more free reign atmosphere for what was allowed.
R.E.M. understood Rock and Roll. They knew what worked and what was cliché. The promotion for Reckoning was unique in itself. 1984, was during the heyday of the music video. We had just seen Michael Jackson moonwalk his way into history and at the same time it was R.E.M. despising the music format and expanding on the video realm.
Being an R.E.M. fan, I would often get into verbal squabbles with people attempting to separate the lives of the musicians with their music. It has become standard in our society to try to understand what makes them tick as individuals rather than the music that they release. Any ‘character flaws’ by some would be vigorously defended to the death as if a snub by Michael Stipe to a fan on a streetcorner is really a flaw. Or in other words, who cares?
I thought that as I was designing the information and forms for the Articles Archive, that I pull this juicy article from the past. This was written by Elizabeth Phillip for the Summer Northwestern. She interviewed the band the same date of the Aragon Ballroom show that will be included on the second disc of the Reckoning Deluxe Edition.
A great interview for some of the extra curricular happenings backstage regarding Buck's confrontation with Cynthia Plaster Caster.
I have posted another Article from the past that is also included, in the articles archive from 1984.