Channel surfing through my general depression last night, I happened to catch REM’s induction (previously recorded) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame*. If you were still undecided about ignoring REM sans Bill Berry, here was your reason to cut the chord after BB’s aneurysm-inspired departure. With Berry again, they launch into “Begin the Begin” (off of 1987’s Lifes Rich Pageant, their best album) and Berry’s drums, always somewhat subtle while necessary on record, finally become monstrous, like he hasn’t stopped playing at all, fresh and perfectly timed as ever. I’m sure this was always obvious to anyone who saw them live before Berry departed. I never caught them.
But don’t listen to me. Watch the clip. Only Mills, probably the best musician of all of them, doesn’t seem stunned and thown off by Berry.
*Disclaimer: I do not endorse the hall; actually support the reverse, and to quote Ron House of the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments: “Blow it up.”