Judging by the title of this career-spanning retrospective, and now that R.E.M. have called it a day, it seems they feel the time is right to admit they did some "garbage" in their time. And many will agree, and depending on your R.E.M. tastes, that could include anything after they started clowning around on Stand or Pop Song 89 from 1988, or perhaps some of the more nondescript tunes on late 90s, early 2000 albums.
Nevertheless, as this 40-song collection unfolds it reveals how important R.E.M. were, especially on the excellent first disc with tracks like Reckoning's (Don't Go Back to) Rockville (1984), Begin the Begin off Life's Rich Pageant (1986), and Document's stirring and staunch Finest Worksong from 1987. It's just a shame about songs like the dreamy and dreary At My Most Beautiful. Still, it's essential for fans, no matter what R.E.M. era you prefer.
-TimeOutBy Scott Kara @scottkara Email Scott