I can’t think of a record I was more consumed with during the late summer of 1986 than R.E.M.’s fourth album, Lifes Rich Pageant. The Don Gehman-produced work cleaned up the Georgia band’s murky sound, earned it a major radio hit (Fall on Me) and edged the quartet ever closer to the pop mainstream. But just because you cold hear Michael Stipe’s cavernous howl didn’t mean you could understand it. The guitar hook-happy Begin the Begin, the tango-friendly Underneath the Bunker, the wonderfully brutish Just a Touch and a still-fascinating ‘80s meditation called What If We Give It Away were just a few of the delights that sounded like they could have, at any moment, spilled over into a punkish brawl. The b-side cover of Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, included as a bonus on later CD editions, actually did. 34 years later, Pageant remains R.E.M.’s richest and, arguably, greatest creation.