R.E.M.'s terrific fourth album is usually lost in the shuffle between 1985's meh Fables of the Reconstruction and 1987's commercial breakthrough Document. Too bad, since some of the band's best songs — "Begin the Begin," "Fall on Me," "I Believe" — are here. This two-disc 25th anniversary edition adds 19 fully formed demos R.E.M. laid down in their hometown of Athens, Georgia, including a few ("Bad Day," "Wait") that never made it onto their official albums. But it's the remastered Lifes Rich Pageant that deserves another listen. Fables of the Reconstruction was a dark, moody exploration of the band's southern roots. On Pageant they get back to the turbocharged indie hooks and muscular sounds that foreshadow later recordings — the ones that made them college radio's biggest group back in the day. Rich indeed. — Gallucci
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