Rolling Stone - p.744 stars out of 5
-- "[T]hey went bigger and bolder, stepping toward radio-friendliness while retaining their iconclastic spirit."
Spin - p.80
"[T]heir cleanest, biggest-sounding production and most straightforwardly bold political statement."
CMJ - 1/5/04, p.18Ranked #12
in CMJ's "Top 20 Most-Played Albums of 1986"
Q (Magazine) - p.1284 stars out of 5
-- "[H]ope, rebirth and fears for an uncertain future were the album's themes..."
NME (Magazine) - 9/6/97, p.53
"...Rickenbacker jangles and increasingly audible lyrics to the fore, ...PAGEANT is the sound of an REM completely jarred off with their 'indie darlings' tag and duly picking up proper FM airplay..."
Paste (magazine) - "[I]t shines a giant and unmistakable signal toward the direct and poppy approach the band would undertake on their next few albums..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[The album was] their most overtly political collection, with songs addressing environmental crises and political malaise."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.1004 stars out of 5
-- "[B]y LIFE'S RICH PAGEANT they were touring hard, were world-wise as a result and, to put it crudely, rocked."
Uncut (magazine) - p.1025 stars out of 5
-- "PAGEANT is where REM properly admit to themselves the degree to which they're a Southern rock band....A startlingly great leap forward."
The songs on LIFE'S RICH PAGEANT are listed out of order on the packaging. Two songs on the record, "Underneath The Bunker" and a cover of the Clique's "Superman," aren't listed at all.
R.E.M.: Michael Stipe (vocals); Peter Buck (guitar); Mike Mills (bass); Bill Berry (drums).
Recorded at The Belmont Mall, Belmont, Indiana.
Audio Mixers: Don Gehman; Greg Edward.
Liner Note Author: Parke Puterbaugh.
Recording information: John Keane's Studio; The Belmont Mall, Belmont, IN.
Photographers: Sandra Lee Phipps; James Herbert; Stephanie Chernikowski.
Coming after the dark and arty FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, 1986's LIFE'S RICH PAGEANT was R.E.M.'s first tentative step towards the rock & roll mainstream. At the time, Don Gehman's production sounded shockingly bright and commercial, but, in hindsight, the album is clearly a dry run for the impending commercial pinnacle of GREEN, OUT OF TIME, and AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE. The gorgeous "Fall on Me" (an ecological meditation featuring a spectacularly pretty chorus sung in counterpoint by Michael Stipe and Mike Mills) remains the record's best-known track. However, it is a quartet of harder-rocking songs--"Begin the Begin," "Cuyahoga," "Just a Touch" (which quotes Patti Smith's 1975 deconstruction of "My Generation") and a giddy cover of the Clique's psych-pop obscurity "Superman" sung by Mills--that points towards the Georgia band's more emotionally direct and musically loose future. LIFE'S RICH PAGEANT has been largely overshadowed by its more commercially successful follow-ups, but it remains one of R.E.M.'s strongest albums.