Is R.E.M. the Greatest American Band of All-Time?

If you get a chance to catch REM this summer, do it. I got to see them at Red Rocks last week and it was a great show.

One could make a strong argument that they are the ‘greatest” American band of all time. Before you jump my case, let me explain.  First off, I’m not an uber-huge REM geek.  I like them and own a couple of their records, so I feel like I can make a case for them from an objective standpoint.  Second, I’m not talking “best” – I’m talking “greatest” – with the descriptors being: best, biggest, longevity, defining a genre, can do a stadium tour.

Who else can you throw into that conversation? I’ve heard people say:

Metallica – Yeah, I think Metallica is in the conversation.  They’ve been around for over 20 years now and will probably fill stadiums when they tour to support their new record

Grateful Dead – Longevity? check. Talent? check. Polarizing? yes.  That would be my only knock against them.  They are probably even more polarizing than Metallica.

The Beach Boys – They really defined a sound and as a friend mentioned, they got better until Brian Wilson freaked out.

Guns n’ Roses – Could have been.  Probably don’t have the longevity to be in this conversation.  But damn, Appetite is a solid record.

When you stop and think about it, the US pumps out more, big solo acts than bands.

Who would you throw into the conversation?

5 thoughts on “Is R.E.M. the Greatest American Band of All-Time?

  1. Hey Neal, thanks for linking my pics. 🙂

    To answer your question, I’d throw in The Eagles – been around forever, still producing some great music, still selling out large venues.

    You’re right about including the Beach Boys in the convo, though they were still touring and sounding great as recently as 1997. But when Carl Wilson died, the band as everyone knew it died with him. It is pretty incredible to see Brian Wilson have a great solo career these days, though. Who would’ve thought?

    R.E.M. though, have ALWAYS been a solid act both on and off stage, and to me are arguably the greatest American band of all-time – constantly putting out relevant albums, even after 28 years they are still as alive on stage as they were in 1980 and show no signs of stopping.

    Glad you enjoyed the Red Rocks show as much as I did.

  2. Neal, whether you like him or not you have to at least mention Bruce. The Boss and E Street have been making it happen for what seems like forever. After having seen him in Philly on his last tour and watching him go on all cylinders for 3.5 hours I’m almost forced to say he’s still got it.

    I also think you could make an argument for Warrant…but you would lose the argument.

  3. KISS. There I said it, KISS rocks the house and should be in the conversation.

    The Grateful Dead, talented? You’ve been to the Cheeba Hut one too many times. Unless, by talented, you mean duping all those hippies into following them around and making them sell cheese sandwiches to give them enough money to buy a concert ticket.

    Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band-one of the more overrated bands ever. I would put them up there with Dave Matthews as some of the suckiest music ever.

    REM is very good and they are in the team picture.

  4. C’mon, everyone knows that The Beatles are the greatest American rock band of all time. Seriously tho, Metallica were doing well until the emo seeking St. Anger, what a blunder!

    ‘Greatest’ is too objective. Album sales, downloads ‘v’ integrity and innovation – REM ‘v’ The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

    I vote Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Living Legends sounding better than ever.

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