Remarks Remade: The Story Of R.E.M. (2003)

The original edition of Remarks was researched and written during the first six months of 1989, at a time when R.E.M. were finally breaking out of cult status and into the public domain of hit singles, platinum albums and sports arenas. At least that was the case in the USA, where Remarks was published in 1990. In the UK, where it came out in the autumn of 1989, R.E.M. had yet to score a top 50 single. They were critics’ darlings for sure, and their imprint was indelibly stamped upon the 1980s as one of the decade’s most influential groups, but they were hardly a household name.

Myself, I had been an impassioned fan of R.E.M. from the moment I first heard Murmur in 1983. I witnessed all three of the band’s debut performances in the UK that November (at the Tube TV show, where I was then working, at Dingwalls in London the following night and at the Marquee three nights after that). I interviewed the group on several occasions when they visited the UK; I saw the band at least once on every one of their five further trips to Britain up to and including 1987. Somewhere between the release of Document, the band’s fifth album, and Green, their sixth (and first for a major label), I moved to the band’s home country, the United States. Shortly after the release of Green, the subject of an R.E.M. book came up in conversation with Andrew King and Chris Charlesworth at Omnibus Press (for whom I had written the official biography of Echo & The Bunnymen); the band seemed a suitable, if somewhat uncommercial, subject for a biography, and the fact I was now living in the States and a committed fan with first-hand knowledge made me a suitable candidate to write it. I was delighted to take up the challenge.