Thursday, February 27, 2020

Certain Songs #1761: R.E.M. – “Living Well is The Best Revenge” | Medialoper

Album: Accelerate
Year: 2008

. . .

File Under Apostles

One of my all time favorite critical one-liners is Rob Sheffield’s quip that Oasis’ Be Here Now was a concept album about long all the songs were. And so while I’m temped to joke that Accelerate was a concept album about how fast all of the songs were, it’s really the album where they finally got over Bill Berry leaving the band.

Having started out defining themselves as a rock ‘n’ roll band, a state of affairs under which you often live and die based upon your drummer, they spent the decade after Berry left kind of avoiding just rocking the fuck out. At least on the studio albums. To diminishing results. And so with drummer Bill Reiflin and second guitarist (and more) Scott McCaughey onboard as near-equals, they decided to rock the fuck out.

The result was their best album since Up (which yeah, was only three records ago), and their shortest album since Reckoning. But nevertheless, a true comeback, both critically and commercially. And it starts off with their hardest rocking track since “Just A Touch,” a statement of purpose about right-wing media called “Living Well is The Best Revenge.”

It’s only when your poison spins into the life you’d hoped to live
That suddenly you wake up in a shaking panic
You set me up like a lamb to slaughter
Garbo as a farmer’s daughter
Unbelievable, the gospel according to who?
I lay right down

Kicking off with blasted-out fuzzy tumbling Peter Buck guitar riff that is instantly supported by Reiflin’s lightspeed drums, “Living Well Is The Best Revenge” is all noise and vocal anger and chunky guitar riffs, with Mike Mills adding both big bass hooks and — yay!!! — complimentary backing vocals on the chorus.

All your sad and lost apostles hum my name and flare their nostrils
Choking on the bones you toss to them
Well i’m not one to sit and spin
Cause living well’s the best revenge
Baby, I am calling you on that

I’ll tell you this: after over a decade, it was absolutely a thrill to stick Accelerate into my CD changer and have a barn-burner like “Living Well is The Best Revenge” jumping out at me.

“Living Well is The Best Revenge”

“Living Well is The Best Revenge” live at the Olympia, Dublin, 2007

“Living Well is The Best Revenge” live in Austin, 2008

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