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Document (album)

Studio album by R.E.M.
Released September 1, 1987 (1987-09-01)
Recorded April 30 – May 2, 1987 (1987-05-02)
Studio Sound Emporium, Nashville, Tennessee; mixed at Master Control, Los Angeles, California, United States
Genre Alternative rock
Length 39:51
Label I.R.S.
Producer Scott Litt and R.E.M.
R.E.M. chronology
Dead Letter Office
Singles from Document
  1. "The One I Love"
    Released: August 1987 (1987-08)
  2. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"
    Released: November 1987 (1987-11)
  3. "Finest Worksong"
    Released: March 1988 (1988-03)

Document is the fifth studio album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released in 1987 a few months after their rarities collection Dead Letter Office appeared and is the last album of new material by the band released on the I.R.S. Records label. It is the first album on which the band worked with producer Scott Litt.


  • Composition 1
  • Design 2
  • Reception 3
  • Track listing 4
  • Personnel 5
  • Release history 6
  • Chart performance 7
  • Sales certifications 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Document was R.E.M.'s first album co-produced by Scott Litt and the band, a collaboration that continued through Green, Out of Time, Automatic for the People, Monster, and New Adventures in Hi-Fi. The album's clear production and muscular rock riffs helped to move the band towards mainstream success and built on the work done by Don Gehman, who had produced their previous album Lifes Rich Pageant. This release not only launched "The One I Love," R.E.M.'s first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (it reached number nine), but also gave them their first platinum album.

"Exhuming McCarthy" makes an explicit parallel between the red-baiting of Joe McCarthy's time and the strengthening of the sense of American exceptionalism during the Reagan era, especially the Iran-Contra affair. Starting with the click-clack of a typewriter, it also includes a sound clip of Joseph Welch's rebuke of McCarthy from the Army-McCarthy Hearings: "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator.... You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

The song "Strange" was originally recorded by the post-punk band Wire on their debut album Pink Flag. This version has slightly altered lyrics, changing "Joey's nervous" to "Michael's nervous" in the first verse, and has a considerably faster tempo.

R.E.M. expanded their instrumentation somewhat on the album, adding dulcimer to "King of Birds" and saxophone to "Fireplace".[1] Steve Berlin was brought in to add his saxophone skills because of a prior relationship with producer Scott Litt.[2] This experimentation would lead to their adoption of the mandolin, which featured prominently on their subsequent albums Green and Out of Time. Furthermore, the band's musicians began swapping instruments both in concert and in the studio in an effort to create new sounds and avoid stagnation.


The original sleeve for the album featured the message "File under Fire", a reference to what Michael Stipe considered to be the central lyrical theme of the album, and also references the chorus to "The One I Love".[3] A similar message ("File under water") could be found on the cover of the band's second album, Reckoning, as well as on the compilation album Eponymous ("File under grain") referring to the idea behind "Talk About the Passion", which was about hunger.[4] Two rejected suggestions for the title of the album—R.E.M. No. 5 and Table of Content—also appear on the sleeve artwork.[5] Other possible album titles included Mr. Evil Breakfast, Skin Up with R.E.M., and Last Train to Disneyland (the last one having been suggested by Peter Buck, who felt that America under the presidency of Ronald Reagan was beginning to feel a lot like the famed amusement park).[6]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic [7]
Chicago Tribune [8]
Christgau's Record Guide A[9]
Entertainment Weekly A–[10]
The Guardian [11]
Pitchfork Media 8.2/10[12]
Q [13]
Rolling Stone [14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [15]
Uncut 9/10[16]

Giving it an A– grade in The Village Voice,[17] and later upgrading it to A,[9] Robert Christgau praised Document and called "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" an "inspirational title." Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic said that "where Lifes Rich Pageant sounded a bit like a party record, Document is a fiery statement, and its memorable melodies and riffs are made all the more indelible by its righteous anger."[7]

Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke felt that the album was R.E.M.'s "finest to date", and said that "Document is the sound of R.E.M. on the move".[14] Rolling Stone went on to include the album in their list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s (in 41st place), and then ranked it number 470 on 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 17 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[18]

Track listing

All songs were written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, except as indicated.

Side one – "Page side"
  1. "Finest Worksong" – 3:48
  2. "Welcome to the Occupation" – 2:46
  3. "Exhuming McCarthy" – 3:19
  4. "Disturbance at the Heron House" – 3:32
  5. "Strange" (Bruce Gilbert, Graham Lewis, Colin Newman, Robert Gotobed) – 2:31
  6. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:05
Side two – "Leaf side"
  1. "The One I Love" – 3:17
  2. "Fireplace" – 3:22
  3. "Lightnin' Hopkins" – 3:20
  4. "King of Birds" – 4:09
  5. "Oddfellows Local 151" – 5:21
1993 I.R.S. Vintage Years reissue bonus tracks
  1. "Finest Worksong (Other Mix)" – 3:47
  2. "Last Date" (Floyd Cramer) – 2:16
  3. "The One I Love" (Live at McCabe's Guitar Shop) – 4:06
  4. "Time After Time, Etc." (Live) – 8:22
  5. "Disturbance at the Heron House" (Live at McCabe's Guitar Shop) – 3:26
  6. "Finest Worksong" (Lengthy Club Mix) – 5:52
  • Note: Although sometimes referred to as such, the first release of this edition does not have the original tracks remastered. They follow the first print of the album and only add the extra tracks.
25th anniversary bonus disc, recorded live at Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht, Netherlands, September 14, 1987
  1. "Finest Worksong" – 4:10
  2. "These Days" – 3:36
  3. "Lightnin' Hopkins" – 3:43
  4. "Welcome to the Occupation" – 2:52
  5. "Driver 8" – 3:35
  6. "Feeling Gravitys Pull" – 5:31
  7. "I Believe" – 4:32
  8. "The One I Love" – 4:20
  9. "Exhuming McCarthy" – 3:23
  10. "Wolves, Lower" – 4:23
  11. "Fall On Me" – 3:05
  12. "Just a Touch" – 3:04
  13. "Oddfellows Local 151" – 5:01
  14. "Little America" – 2:50
  15. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:01
  16. "Begin the Begin" – 3:58
  17. "Disturbance at the Heron House" – 3:42
  18. "Moral Kiosk" – 3:02
  19. "Life and How to Live It" – 6:28
  20. "So. Central Rain" – 5:19
    • Previously released on the B-Side of the 1988 "Finest Worksong" single as part of the song called "Time After Time, Etc.", of which it comprises the final 5:19.


Additional musicians
  • Bill Berry – production
  • Peter Buck – production
  • Mike Mills – production
  • Michael Stipe – production
  • Scott Litt – production
  • Steve Catania – engineering
  • Tom Der – engineering
  • Toni Greene – engineering
  • Gary Laney – engineering
  • Ted Pattison – engineering
  • Todd Scholar – engineering
  • Elliot Scheiner – mixing on 2005 re-release
  • Jim McKay – photography
  • Michael Meister – photography
  • Sandra-Lee Phipps – photography
  • Ron Scarselli – packaging

Release history

In 1999, the album was remastered by Bob Ludwig and re-released on Compact Disc by I.R.S. Records in the United States. This version came in a replica of the record sleeve made of cardboard. In 2005, Capitol Records (whose parent company EMI now own I.R.S. Records' catalog) issued an expanded DualDisc edition of Document which includes a digitally remastered version of the album on the CD side, a DVD-Audio, DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1-channel surround sound mix of the album done by Elliot Scheiner on the DVD side, and the original CD booklet.

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States September 1, 1987 I.R.S. vinyl LP IRS-42059
Compact Disc IRSD-42059
cassette tape IRSC-42059
United Kingdom September 14, 1987 I.R.S. LP IRLD 19144/MIRG1025
Australia 1987 I.R.S. LP 460105 1
Brazil 1987 Epic LP 231111
Greece 1987 I.R.S./CBS LP ILP-460105 1
Japan 1987 I.R.S. LP 28AP-3382
The Netherlands 1987 I.R.S. LP ILP-460105 1
Zimbabwe 1988 CBS LP ASF-3174
Worldwide 1990 MCA Compact Disc 42059
I.R.S. cassette tape IRSC-42059
Worldwide 1992 Universal Compact Disc 19144
The Netherlands May 11, 1993 I.R.S. Compact Disc 7 13200 2 6†
Brazil 1993 Warner Bros./EMI Compact Disc 7 13200-2
Worldwide 1993 EMI Compact Disc 1508
United Kingdom September 1, 1997 I.R.S. LP 0777/CTMCD 337†
Worldwide 1997 EMI Compact Disc 337
Worldwide 1998 Capitol Compact Disc 93480
Worldwide 1999 Capitol Compact Disc 21276
United States 1999 I.R.S. LP 724349946613-4
Compact Disc 72435-21276-2-7‡
Europe 1999 EMI Compact Disc 13200†
United States 2000 EMI LP 499466
United States 2003 Capitol DVD-Audio 90149•
United States 2005 Capitol DualDisc 99398•
United States 2008 Capitol LP 220591
United States September 25, 2012 Capitol / EMI Compact Disc 5099997200628††

†I.R.S. Vintage Years edition, with bonus tracks
‡Compact Disc remastered edition
•DualDisc remastered edition
†† 25th anniversary edition, with bonus disc

A truncated edition of Document was also issued on Armed Forces Radio—catalogue number P-24576—with "Finest Worksong", "Welcome to the Occupation", "Fireplace", "Lightnin' Hopkins", and "King of Birds" on one side and tracks from Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason on the other.

Chart performance

Year Chart Position
1987 Billboard 200 10 (33 weeks on chart)[19]
1987 UK Albums Chart 28 (5 weeks on chart)[20]
1987 Australia (Kent Music Report) 47 (9 weeks on chart)[21]
Year Song Chart Position
1987 "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 16[19]
1987 "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" Billboard Hot 100 69[19]
1987 "The One I Love" Billboard Hot 100 9[19]
1988 "The One I Love" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 2[19]
1988 "Finest Worksong" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 28[19]
1988 "Finest Worksong" UK Singles Chart 50[20]
1988 "The One I Love" UK Singles Chart 51[20]
1991 "The One I Love" UK Singles Chart 16[20]
1991 "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" UK Singles Chart 39[20]

Sales certifications

Organization Level Date
RIAA – U.S. Gold November 2, 1987[22]
RIAA – U.S. Platinum January 25, 1988[22]
BPI – UK Gold July 22, 2013[23]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Murray, Noel (September 14, 2012). "Steve Berlin of Los Lobos on R.E.M. and Sharing the Planet with Paul Westerberg".  
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ R.E.M. in Time: The Story Behind Every Song, Craig Rosen, 1997
  6. ^ Reveal: The Story of R.E.M., Johnny Black, 2004
  7. ^ a b  
  8. ^  
  9. ^ a b  
  10. ^  
  11. ^ Hann, Michael (December 6, 2012). (25th Anniversary Edition) – review"Document"R.E.M.: .  
  12. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (September 25, 2012). "Document"R.E.M.: .  
  13. ^ "Document".  
  14. ^ a b  
  15. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004).  
  16. ^ Mueller, Andrew (October 4, 2012). reissue"Document"R.E.M – .  
  17. ^  
  18. ^ "Best Albums of the 1980s, page 9".  
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Document – R.E.M. Awards". Allmusic. AllMusic, a division of All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d e "R.E.M. Artist Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  21. ^   N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and June 19, 1988.
  22. ^ a b "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  23. ^ "Certified Awards". BPI. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 

External links

  • Album online at
  • DocumentR.E.M.HQ on
  • Document at AllMusic (I.R.S. Vintage Years edition)
  • Document at AllMusic (DualDisc edition)
  • Document at MusicBrainz (list of releases)
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