There is an article at Pitchfork that deals with the reissues of R.E.M.'s albums for Warners. Here's the most significant part:
"Ultimately, however, I'm not sure I trust my judgment on some of these albums: Maybe I would have obsessed over Reveal and Up if I'd heard them at 15 or 18 or 20 years old, and maybe I would have completely panned Green or Out of Time if I'd reviewed them a few months ago. So I wish I could hear these albums again for the first time, just as I wish I could hear any album the way I first heard Green and Out of Time and New Adventures-- full of hope and empty of cynicism. I wish I could devote as much time and imagination to pore over the lyrics, parse out the sounds, consider their meanings, hold the album covers up to the light to find hidden messages. There is still meaningful music being made today, so I'm not necessarily nostalgic for an idealized past. Music didn't change; R.E.M. changed, and I changed along with them."
I think we all know exactly what he's talking about. But the Advancement Theory addresses the problem: If you thought R.E.M. was great in 1988, then they are great now, too, but you've lost your ability to judge them. But this only applies to the great bands and solo artists. The theory isn't much more complicated than that.