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45 at 33: R.E.M. make a Stand

So restart the jukebox and do us all a favour. That music’s lost its taste so try another flavour… it‘s R.E.M….

As far as earworm hits go, Stand was about as big as R.E.M. got in the 1980s, and for good reason. From the unassuming organ intro that melts quickly into Peter Buck’s seamlessly arpeggiated guitar riff and anthemic lyrics from Michael Stipe, whose birthday it is today, to the slamming of piano keys over Bill Berry’s steady skin-slapping, it’s a head-bobber all the way.

With one of the most memorable choruses I’ve ever heard, and one which perhaps the Athens quartet probably never really topped, Stand is a song you absolutely cannot help but sing along to.

Stipe’s keening invitation to “think about direction / wonder why you haven’t now” is brilliant in it’s simplicity; a gentle call to self-examination without being the slightest bit overbearing. Packaged in a gleaming pop wrapper, Stand proved R.E.M. deserved their new major label status, with a radio-ready sound that had the songwriting to back it all up.

Steve Pafford

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