White Tornado, Windout, Rotary Ten, and Burning Hell
November 25, 2007
“White Tornado,” “Windout,” “Rotary Ten,” and “Burning Hell,” were written by R.E.M., but they aren’t really R.E.M. songs. They are essentially genre pastiches used to serve a function on stage, musical shorthand that they band outgrew once they had enough material to fill out a full concert. These aren’t serious compositions, but rather fun indulgences: “Windout” is a competent but uninspired garage rock rave-up; “Rotary Ten” is an amusing faux-jazz instrumental for an imaginary film;”Burning Hell” is ersatz badass riff rock; the alternative title for “White Tornado” was the bluntly descriptive “Generic Surf.” There’s not a lot to these songs that other artists haven’t made a career out of doing much better, but there’s a pleasant mix of irony and reverence in the way the band embraced these standard song forms while pushing themselves toward something more distinct in the rest of their material from the period.