REM - Life's Rich Pageant

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After a harrowing experience recording their previous album (1985's magnificent 'Fables Of The Reconstruction'), Rem reconvened the following year muttering something about a 'poppier' sound. However, old fans were given little to complain about when 'Life's Rich Pageant' was unveiled. Admittedly new producer Don Gehman had cleaned things up; you can even hear what Michael Stipe was singing on a couple of songs. And, yes, there's even a novelty cover ('Superman'). All these factors though, point to a band really enjoying themselves in the studio, from the euphoric clatter of 'Begin The Begin' to the poignant waltz-time strum of 'Swan Swan H'. Highlights? Too many to mention - but it's hard to disagree with Stipe when he cites 'Cuyahoga' and the hymnal 'Fall On Me' as two of his very best.