Leah Greenblatt and Melissa Maerz
September 30, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Talk About the Passion”
In which Michael Stipe’s twangy French (”Combien du temps?”) is almost as endearing as Peter Buck’s shy, stutter-stepping guitar hook.

”Fall on Me”
A captivating sonic layer cake from 1986’s already-rich Lifes Rich Pageant.

”So. Central Rain”
The lesson behind this slow-burner? That love means always hearing Stipe say ”I’m sorry.”

”Nightswimming”
Stipe and bassist Mike Mills (on piano) stand alone together on a singularly vulnerable ballad.

”Driver 8”
A jangly-sweet ode to the New Orleans-bound Crescent train that’s so deeply Southern, Dale Earnhardt Jr. named his autobiography after it.

”It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”
A talking-blues history of plane crashes and famous Leonards (Bruce! Bernstein!), and the defining anthem for the information-overload age.

”What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”
Only they could turn the story of a random attack on Dan Rather into a shimmering, live-wire rocker.

”The One I Love”
Romantic angst wrapped not just in ”fire” but ”fiiii-uhuhuhhhhhr.”

”(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”
Mills’ girlfriend moved home to Maryland, and all he got was this stellar country-rock rambler.

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