And so here it is. The end of the road for one of the great bands, all wrapped up in 40 tracks.
I have, of course, got most of these on the actual albums, but sometimes a nicely sequenced compilation is what you need to get the feel of what a band’s about, or to remind you what you loved about them in the first place. All the usual suspects are present and correct – Losing My Religion, Everybody Hurts, the much maligned Shiny Happy People, which I still enjoy for its exuberant daftness, and early favourites like Fall on Me.
But what I’ve been enjoying the most are those early tracks that I first heard on a cassette compilation a couple of decades ago – Driver 8, and the nicely bracketed (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville sound better than I recall thanks to some remastering – I’m sure Michael Stipe’s vocals were never that distinct way back then. Or maybe it was just a bad cassette. And Talk About the Passion is still lovely with its haunting line
Not everyone can carry the weight of the world
It’s not all perfect – there was a bit of a quality dip along the way, but overall, this is a very good collection, whether as an addition to your collection, or as the only R.E.M. recording in it. Though you really should have Automatic for the People. That one’s compulsory.
 Note to younger readers. Cassettes were nasty fragile things containing spools of plastic tape coated with some magnetic substance. Their main activity was wrapping that tape around a horribly complicated mechanism and becoming scrunched up in such a way that the sound quality became intolerably bad. Not that it was all that good to start with in many cases.