I see via Pitchfork that there is a new REM retrospective out called And I Feel Fine, which features music from their first 5 albums, Murmur, Reckoning, Life's Rich Pageant, Fables of the Reconstruction, and Document. These albums came out while they were still on indie label IRS and before they signed to Warner and generally started sucking.
There is really no way to explain my emotional connection to those first 5 albums. I just love them, and they're an integral part of my sense of what rock music should sound like and be. I used to have an excellent mix tape (yep, I'm old) of music from those records, but tragically, I lost it. So maybe this compilation can replace it.
In a weird way, my love for early REM is inextricably tied up with my feelings about U2. They both had their breakthrough albums (Joshua Tree and Document) at about the same time. I know that a lot of people 5 or 10 years younger than me (including some of my fellow junkettes) now see U2 as this great rock band, but in my mind they'll always take a back seat to the boys from Athens, Georgia.