I’m not sure what college rock is anymore and I really don’t want to know what Clear Channel’s idea of it is anyway. But back when it was coined in the mid-80’s, college rock was a good time. It was about discovery, not rehashing. The term made sense because it’s what college radio stations played (and consequently, it was new, fairly underground, and played heavily by cool older brothers). It described something about the music in time and place, it was specific while being inclusive, unlike the Heinrich Himmler style label, alternative rock which followed. How subjective of you! I said GOOD DAY SIR.
(R.E.M., cool in college. Photo credit Ed Colver)
Technically, it could mean anything from The Fall to Camper Van Beethoven, but if college radio had a sound, that sound was R.E.M. Even a decade later when I was up in on matriculation game, they still defined it. Their classic 2nd record, Reckoning, was reissued today, to celebrate it’s 25th anniversary you know. It’s crisply remastered and loaded with liner notes. There’s a 2nd disc of a 1984 concert originally only broadcast live on Chicago’s WXRT with versions of songs from their debut full length through their 4th record including the hit, “Radio Free Europe,” off Murmur, “Driver 8” from Fables of the Reconstruction and some singles from earlier EP’s like “Gardening at Night” off Chronic Town.
Both Reckoning and Murmur are also being re-released on 180 gram vinyl in their complete original packaging. Hey, the economy blows, it’s a good time to go back to college, back to Rockville even.