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Book Review: R.E.M.: Perfect Circle – Tony Fletcher

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Originally released in 1990 as Remarks:  The Story Of R.E.M. (and subsequently updated, minus the photos, as Remarks Remade in 2002), Perfect Circle is the fitting, final written chapter of R.E.M.’s 31-year story.  Tony Fletcher puts together the Athens band’s history through their own words, well researched press and interviews with many of the band’s collaborators, producers and co-conspirators.  This band that paved the foundation for what became tagged as “alternative American rock” in the 1980’s wound up becoming one of the most celebrated bands in history (I wouldn’t dispute that).  For all the praise and hyperbole heaped upon R.E.M. over the years, there’s a lot of humanity, warmth and good nature in the stories of the band, their exploits and the discernible pride when discussing their music.  Even right down to the 1997 departure of drummer Bill Berry and the remaining trio’s decision to announce their final split in 2011, R.E.M. were always “a group” – unified.  And that’s a rarity in any age.