a performance from Stipe - the definitive tribute

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When we're gigging there are places and people that are part of our journey.  Part signpost, part safe haven. Sarah is one of them; warm, supportive, funny.  Always a pleasure to see her.  Here's her R.E.M. story.

Thanks sharing this one Sarah.  See you soon :)

My name is Mark Bullen.  I originate from Chelmsford in Essex and now live 30 miles further up the road in Colchester these days.  My REM story began in 1991.  I was drawn to the folky sound of ‘Losing My Religion’ which became such a massive hit here in the UK and got so much airplay - but I didn’t tire of hearing it!  I was pretty much hooked but needed confirmation with a decent next single release!  So it came with ‘Shiny Happy People’.  This song gets bad press these days but I loved it!  As an 18 year old student at the time, the song was idyllic and got played at parties and disco’s a plenty - much to my satisfaction!  So it was confirmed!  I was to part with some of my well-earned part time wage for ‘Out of Time’ on cassette.  I think this has to have been my most influential and important album purchases I have ever made!


Listening to ‘Out of Time’ I was left intrigued.  Another cassette purchase ‘REM Greatest hits’ on cassette got me hooked. ‘Automatic for the People’ was always going to be added to my cassette collection as soon as it came out.  A massive worldwide hit and again I was left wanting more of these guys.  There was a re-release of the ‘One I Love’ which I bought as a CD single.  Additional tracks on here were acoustic versions of ‘Driver 8’ and ‘Disturbance at the Heron House’.


The Greatest Hits Album confirmed that I was going to go back and add REM’s pre ‘Out of Time’ albums to my collection!  Entering the new age of CD’s! Green was first on the list!  I bought myself a video cassette of Tourfilm.  The passion with which the band played and the anger with the politics and ecological shortcomings of the time that came out just stirred up so much in me!  I think at this stage I went right back to start from ‘Murmur’, followed by ‘Reckoning’, ‘Fables of the Reconstruction’, ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ and ‘Document’.  I went forward too with ‘Monster’ and was lucky enough to see them headline in 1995 at the Milton Keynes Bowl backed up by no less than ‘Radiohead’ and ‘The Cranberries’!  I can recall well where I was in these times!  At work – no ties – great friendship group with the sound of a great band to keep me company in my car on my travels!


I also have ‘New Adventures’ and the latter ‘Greatest Hits’ CD’s in my collection too which I really enjoy.  For me though, the journey back with REM has been the one that has accompanied my life – in good times and not so good times.  The songs take on different meanings maybe, at different times depending on how I am feeling but REM have been a constant through my adult life!  I have spells where a particular album I just want to play over and over.  At the moment, I’m listening to Murmur a lot and ‘Talk about the Passion’ I’m just loving to sing along to in the kitchen whilst I’m doing my chores!  ‘Fall on Me’ is a big favourite with me too its melodies and its message.


What is it for me that is the draw?  Is it jangly guitars, melodies, the depth of the writing, the mumbles, the intrigue of what the lyrics are and what they mean?  I think it is all of these things!  REM are with me with melancholy tunes that I empathise with in my mood sometimes.  Getting ready to go for a few beers out with the lads – ‘Life’s Rich Pageant’ goes on and gets cranked up!  I think I basically have an REM album to play to suit any mood or occasion!


I’ve been lucky enough to see ‘Stipe REM tribute’ band in Chelmsford a couple of years back.  They encapsulate the band in every way and in them the spirit of the band lives on!  I hope to go to Southend to watch Stipe again once Covid is kicked in to touch! ‘I believe!’  I also belong to a facebook tribute group for Fans called REMembering REM and there is always some great stuff posted on there!


REM have been and continue to be the musical backdrop to my life.  This is my REM story.  I think the great thing is that another fan will have their own story to tell which will differ from mine and so on.  This to me is what makes REM such a fascinating band.  They have the ability to reach out to fans and to each fan in a different way.


I hope you continue to enjoy your REM journeys as much as I continue to enjoy mine! 


Thanks for reading!


Mark Bullen 18.3.2021