R.E.M. - Automatic For The People

Automatic for the People is R.E.M.'s eighth album, and their third major label release for Warner Bros., released in 1992.

Mostly acoustic and typified by its dark lyrics (many of which ruminate on mortality, death and those departed), Automatic for the People is generally considered to be among R.E.M.'s best albums, and one of the finest releases of the 1990's. The album name refers to the motto of Athens, Georgia eatery "Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods." The photograph on the front cover is not related to the restaurant: it shows a sign on a motel in Miami, where part of the album was recorded.

Arriving on the heels of the previous year's breakthrough album Out of Time, Automatic for the People entered the United States charts at #2, selling over four million copies there, and spent several weeks at #1 in the United Kingdom. As a consequence, R.E.M. were marketed alongside new acts such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam as purveyors of the "alternative" scene, despite obvious differences in outlook, style and musical influences between the older band and the newer ones. Despite the album's success, they declined to tour in support of Automatic for the People, as they had for Out of Time the previous year.

Many of Automatic for the People's songs proved to be very popular: "Drive", "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite", "Everybody Hurts", "Nightswimming" and the Andy Kaufman tribute "Man on the Moon", which would become the title of the late comedian's 1999 biographical movie starring Jim Carrey.

John Paul Jones, formerly the bassist for Led Zeppelin, in his second career in string arrangement, scored the strings for "Drive," "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite," "Everybody Hurts" and "Nightswimming."

'Automatic for the People captures the group at a crossroads, as they moved from cult heroes to elder statesmen, and the album is a graceful transition into their new status.'Amg

It has subsequently been revealed that Kurt Cobain was likely listening to Automatic for the People before committing suicide on April 5, 1994. The song "Everybody Hurts" had in fact been composed by Michael Stipe (its music was written by Bill Berry) as a reaction to an epidemic of suicides among young people. Stipe would later write the song "Let Me In" about Cobain's death.

In 1997 Automatic for the People was named the 18th greatest album of all time in a 'Music of the Millennium' poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 1998, Q magazine readers placed it at number 3. In 2003, the album was ranked number 247 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.


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