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Why did all 3 of these bands start to suck around the same time,early 90s when none seemed to be able to do any wrong up to that point
Early 90's? I think you mean mid 90's. In my opinion (and just about every other person's opinion) Metallica's last great album was "The Black Album" in 1991. As for U2, their last masterpiece was "Achtung Baby", also released in 1991, but since then they've made some good music ("All That You Can't Leave Behind") but yeah, nothing compared to the excellent run they had in the 80's. As for R.E.M., I think "Automatic for the People" (1992) is easily their best album, and one of the my time favorite albums ever. Probably a top 5 album from the 90's. "Out of Time" (1991) was also pretty damn good (although massively overrated on AM) "Losing My Religion" is without a doubt their best song. I'd say that the last truly great album R.E.M. put out was "New Adventures In Hi-Fi" in 1996, an album which is massively underrated on AM. I guess it's just perspective. I will say this much though, Metallica and U2's "golden years" both stopped in 1991, while R.E.M.'s stopped in 1996.
Well, while we're just throwing out random opinions:
Metallica started to suck after 1991- I agree.
U2 was never as great as people make them out to be, but I think their best stuff was from 1980-1984 and 1991-1993. Zooropa rules!
And R.E.M.? Other than a few songs, they've always sucked.
I too love Zooropa. They've only had one mediocre album from 1991 till now, and only released 3 in the 90s (only to come back in 2000 with another classic), so it's tough to say they had a "period" of sucking, just a few spotty albums here and there (in the '80s too).
R.E.M. were strong throughout the 90s. Not every single thing they put out was flawless, but they never went on a losing steak either (I personally like Up and Reveal, but even if you include them in a weak period, New Adventures in Hi-Fi came out in 1996 and Monster was great).
Metallica: I personally enjoy Load, but admittedly they are the closest to what MWad mentioned. And even then, Death Magnetic was fantastic so they've had their comeback as well.
Yeah, I can see where MWad was coming from. These were three of the best and most important 80s bands and, sure, their 90s output may not have collectively matched that of the 80s, but 2 of the 3 remained solid, and all of them have put out very good stuff since.
R.E.M.'s peak was 1983-1987. All 5 of those albums are in my top 6 R.E.M. albums, along with Automatic For the People (my #2 R.E.M. record).
Green (1988) is an okay record, Out of Time has 3 good songs, Monster has 1 good song, New Adventures in Hi Fi is a pretty good record, my #7 favorite by them. Up is sort of boring to me.
U2 like Moonbeam said, isn't as great as people make them out as, but they do have several good to great albums.
Metallica...the second they tried to become Alternative, they lost it. The First four albums are beastly. The Black Album is nice enough.
To answer the question though, the reason they all fizzled at the same time is that they all had been recording for 10 years, and it's hard to make it past the first decade.
At least in terms of acclaim, this happened to many artists from the mid-90s in the mid-00s. Beck, PJ Harvey, Wilco, Bjork, The Flaming Lips, OutKast, Jay-Z, Eminem and basically every top shelf late 90s artist but Radiohead fizzled out in the mid-00s (and hell Radiohead would've fizzled if they didn't start taking 4 years to make an album.)
I don't know how I should feel about all this. Sure, every follow-up album is not as good as it's predecessor (with a few exceptions), but trying to measure the band's killer record is hard as it is subjective.
I personally think the low periods for these bands did not start at the same time. For Metallica, I actually thought "Load" was just okay, but everything after that was disappointing to say the least.
U2 is still okay, but their older material is still better. I think "All you Can't Leave Behind" was their last masterpiece.
REM just couldn't do it for me after "Monster". This is the only band who I think did die out early 90's.
I think it impossible to stay on top once you get there. Eventually, every band will get this kind of debate, I think
Metallica peaked with their 1st 4 albums, blew up commercially with what was still a pretty good album in 1991 (The Black Album) and then tried to play off that the Load/Reload era of the mid-90's were any good. They weren't. That is where the drastic decline took place. Coincidentally in the late 90's you could hear a Metallica song on the radio every hour or so, from 83-88 when they were at their best, you rarely if ever heard them on the radio.
U2 were a force in the 80's, had a big album in 1991 which is one of the best years for big albums from big artists. Zooropa was a solid effort, then after a long layoff they came out with "Pop" in 1997. Instead of delivering another timeless effort, they delivered a steaming pile of... From that point on they released some decent albums, but never the same.
Like U2, R.E.M. delivered some amazing stuff in the 80's, a big album in '91, an even bigger album in '92. Then things went downhill with a number of okay albums with a couple of good songs here and there, but nothing that made me want to listen to them more than the original couple of listens when you first buy them.
Concensus from all 3... Great in the 80's, Extremely big albums in the early 90's, Legacies took a beating with subpar efforts in the mid 90's, okay stuff from then on just nothing special.
1991 was a blockbust er year for all these groups. U2 had Achtung Baby, Metallica had the Black album and R.E.M. had Out of Time (Which no one seems to like as much as I do). I don't see why U2's 00's albums aren't well liked, I think their alright, but their earlier albums are definately better. (War!)
Load has some good singles on it, but it's not an overall strong album. All their garage metal albums are good, whereas Black is their only consistent radio singles album.
I agree with Moonbeam's assessment of U2's strongest eras. I really like Boy and War. Starting with Joshua Tree I think their music got less energetic and more self-conscious. Then Achtung Baby had some of their best singles, but they got more and more self-conscious and annoyingly grandiose starting from when Pop flopped. They started trying too hard and then tried harder and harder.
Although, I think Edge's guitar playing is great throughout their career.