REM, Green

The zenith of REM's discography is this scattershot, eclectic collection of vignettes and jangle where the cover doesn't even match the title. The best part is that they learned from their mistakes on Document: the politics persist, but more subtly, Scott Litt's production is richer and higher quality, and a solid balance of radio-friendly ("Pop Song '89," "Stand" and "Orange Crush") and cerebral ("World Leader Pretend," "Hairshirt" and particularly the heart-rending "The Wrong Child") songs make the album eminently listenable in pieces or end-to-end. 1988-me played the cassette single of "Stand" non-stop, and when I finally bought the full tape it turned me into an REM fan for life. Their later work is where they started to believe their hype, and their worthy earlier works were too often too insular, but this one was their Goldilocks — and that title might even match. The 25th anniversary disc adds another one of those live CDs which is a full example of their then-current setlist but mostly makes you want to buy the originals. (Content: no concerns.)