A quarter of a century after ‘Out Of Time’ helped break alternative music into the American mainstream and turned R.E.M. into a worldwide phenomenon, the band have announced a special 25th Anniversary Edition, out via Concord Bicycle. ‘Out Of Time’ will be released in three different formats. The 2 CD Set will include a remastered version of the original album alongside demo versions of every album track, as well as demos for two non-album b-sides and a previously unreleased song. The 3 LP Set will include remastered vinyl versions of the original album and the demos. The 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of ‘Out Of Time’ will include 4 discs, featuring the remastered album, demos, recordings from the band’s performance at Mountain Stage in 1991 (a rarity for the time, as the band did not tour to promote ‘Out Of Time’), and a Blu-Ray disc with hi-resolution audio and 5.1 Surround Sound versions of ‘Out Of Time,’ all of the music videos from the album, and the 1991 electronic press kit ‘Time Piece,’ featuring in-studio footage, exclusive performances and more. All versions will feature extensive liner notes by Annie Zaleski featuring interviews from all four band members and producers Scott Litt and John Keane. Full details below.
For years, R.E.M. promised that their next album would be a rocker, an oath to fans that perhaps made sense during the early ’90s, when they were exploring the pastoral fields of Out of Time and the gloomy folk of Automatic for the People, but in the years after Bill Berry’s 1997 departure, the desire of longtime fans for the group to rock again was merely a code word for the wish that R.E.M. would sound like a band again. Apart from a few fleeting moments – “The Great Beyond,” their “Man in the Moon” re-write for the 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic, Man in the Moon; “Bad Day,” a mid-’80s outtake revived for a greatest-hits album – R.E.M. not only didn’t sound like a band, but they seemed at odds with themselves and their very strengths, culminating in the amorphous, mummified Around the Sun, a record so polished and overworked it didn’t sound a bit like R.E.M., not even like the art-pop outfit the band turned into after Berry’s retirement. It was a situation so dire that the band recognized the need for corrective steering, so they stripped themselves down to bare-bones for 2008’s Accelerate.
R.E.M. – Around The Sun (2004) [DVD-Audio ‘2005] FLAC (tracks) Stereo 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 55:21 minutes | 1,1 GB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Source: DVD-audio / MLP 2.0 track | Artwork: Covers
Ten years after the commercial zenith of Monster and seven years after the departure of linchpin Bill Berry, R.E.M. have never seemed as directionless as they do on their 13th album, Around the Sun. To a certain extent, R.E.M. have seemed unsure ever since Monster – sporadically brilliant as it is, New Adventures in Hi-Fi was an effort to clear the decks and redefine the band in the wake of its breakthrough to superstar status. It pointed in a few directions the group could follow, but Berry left the band before they could follow those paths, leaving Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe at a bit of a loss on what to do next. They initially responded with the overly experimental, overly serious Up in 1998, which gave way to the classicist Reveal in 2001. While these two records were of a piece – heavy on keyboards, containing far more deliberate performances than anything recorded with Berry – they had different characters and feels, which was not unusual for R.E.M.; since the careening, ragged Reckoning followed the hazy, dreamlike Murmur, each album had an element of a surprise, offering something different than what came before. That’s not the case with Around the Sun, which refines and polishes the blueprint of Reveal to the point that Q-Tip’s rap on “The Outsiders” fades into the background as if it were another overdubbed keyboard or acoustic guitar. This is as slow and ballad-heavy as Automatic for the People, but where that album was filled with raw emotion and weird detours, Around the Sun is tasteful and streamlined, from its fussy production to its somber songwriting. Automatic may have been obsessed with death and regret, but it was empathetic and comforting. In contrast, Around the Sun offers no weighty themes – it dabbles in politics and relationships, but the lyrics never seem to mesh with the music – and it’s emotionally removed, keeping listeners at a considerable distance. Here, R.E.M. write songs like craftsmen without distinction – the songs are sturdily constructed but bland, lacking musical and lyrical hooks. The band sound as if they were going through the motions, hoping to save the tunes in the mix. With their layered, low-key production, R.E.M. seem hell-bent on leaving behind anything that could be construed as their signature sound, so keyboards and drum machines are pushed to the front as Buck’s guitar strums instead of jangles and Mills’ background vocals are buried in the mix under Stipe’s double-tracked harmonies. Change is all well and good, but this doesn’t feel like organic change; it feels like the end result of too many hours in the studio tinkering with synthesizers and overdubs, resulting in a record as studiously serious as Wilco but as radio-friendly as U2. By straddling these two extremes, R.E.M. wind up with a record that’s neither fish nor fowl – all the quirks in the production have been sanded down and glossed over so it can slip right onto adult alternative rock airwaves, but it’s too insular, too overthought to appeal to either a wide audience or R.E.M.’s dwindling cult following.
R.E.M. – New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996) [DVD-Audio ‘2005] FLAC (tracks) Stereo 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 65:32 minutes | 823 MB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Source: DVD-audio / MLP 2.0 track | Artwork: Covers
Recorded during and immediately following R.E.M.’s disaster-prone Monster tour, New Adventures in Hi-Fi feels like it was recorded on the road. Not only are all of Michael Stipe’s lyrics on the album about moving or travel, the sound is ragged and varied, pieced together from tapes recorded at shows, soundtracks, and studios, giving it a loose, careening charm. New Adventures has the same spirit of much of R.E.M.’s IRS records, but don’t take the title of New Adventures in Hi-Fi lightly – R.E.M. tries different textures and new studio tricks. “How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us” opens the album with a rolling, vaguely hip-hop drum beat and slowly adds on jazzily dissonant piano. “E-Bow the Letter” starts out as an updated version of “Country Feedback,” then it turns in on itself with layers of moaning guitar effects and Patti Smith’s haunting backing vocals. Clocking in at seven minutes, “Leave” is the longest track R.E.M. has yet recorded and it’s one of their strangest and best – an affecting minor-key dirge with a howling, siren-like feedback loop that runs throughout the entire song. Elsewhere, R.E.M. tread standard territory: “Electrolite” is a lovely piano-based ballad, “Departure” rocks like a Document outtake, the chiming opening riff of “Bittersweet Me” sounds like it was written in 1985, “New Test Leper” is gently winding folk-rock, and “The Wake-Up Bomb” and “Undertow” rock like the Monster outtakes they are. New Adventures in Hi-Fi may run a little too long – it clocks in at 62 minutes, by far the longest album R.E.M. has ever released – yet in its multifaceted sprawl, they wound up with one of their best records of the ’90s.
R.E.M. – Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions (2014) FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 135:12 minutes | 1,56 GB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | @ Concord Records
R.E.M. delivered two knockout performances on MTV’s Grammy and Emmy award-winning “Unplugged” series, the first in 1991 and the other in 2001, giving them the unique distinction of being the only band to headline the series twice. Surprisingly, audio from both shows has never been available, making these some of the most demanded music in the R.E.M. vaults. The collection includes every performance from the original broadcasts, as well as 11 songs that never aired, from the storied collection of the band’s MTV appearances. (more…)
R.E.M. – Up (1998/2015) FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 (192) kHz | Time – 64:33 minutes | 935 MB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | @ Concord Records
R.E.M. returned with Up in 1998, the much anticipated first recording by the band’s new three-man lineup. Musically ambitious, melodically rich and filled with provocative new textures and sounds, Up marked the beginning of a bold new creative era for one of the world’s finest bands. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1999. (more…)
R.E.M. – Collapse Into Now (2011/2015) FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 41:05 minutes | 494 MB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Artwork: Front cover | @ Concord Records
For Collapse Into Now, R.E.M. re-teamed with Grammy Award-winning producer Jacknife Lee, who produced the band’s acclaimed previous album Accelerate. Lee is also noted for his work on albums by U2, Snow Patrol, The Hives, and indie stalwarts Kasabian, Editors, Aqualung, and Bloc Party. R.E.M. and Lee recorded the album in New Orleans at the Music Shed and in Berlin at the famed Hansa Studios, where several legendary albums, including David Bowie’s Heroes, U2’s Achtung Baby, and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, were made. Additional recording and mixing was done at the venerable Blackbird Studio in Nashville. (more…)
R.E.M. – Reveal (2001) FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 53:45 minutes | 1,12 GB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | @ Concord Records
R.E.M.’s 12th studio album, released in 2001, was a staggering return to the group’s original sound. Peter Buck’s chiming guitars swirl around some of Michael Stipe’s most emotive singing on singles like “Imitation of Life,” “All the Way to Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star)” and “I’ll Take the Rain.” At the same time, the album showcased the group at their most experimental and texturally adventurous, coloring their songs with reversed guitar, subtle electronics and vintage keyboard sounds. The album peaked at #1 in the UK and hit #6 on the Billboard 200. (more…)
R.E.M. – Monster (1994/2001) FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 48:58 minutes | 0.99 GB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | @ Concord Records
R.E.M’s 9th studio album, released in 1994, including the single “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”. Debuted at #1 in the US.
After putting Athens, GA, on the musical map in the early ’80s, R.E.M. went on to become one of the world’s biggest bands. Their 9th album Monster, debuted at #1 and yielded one of the band’s biggest singles: “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” The record features the band at its most rocking and aggressive, with guitarist Peter Buck delivering some of his most memorable riffs and fills over some of the band’s most enduring songs. (more…)
R.E.M. – Automatic For The People (1992/2012) FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 48:55 minutes | 608 MB | Genre: Rock, Alternative Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks.com | Front cover | @ Concord Records
Automatic For The People is the haunting masterpiece from alternative rock legends, R.E.M. Layered with lush strings and glistening keyboards, the band’s eighth studio recording is a musical exploration on life’s mortality. Listed as one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” the record peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Top 200 and yielded six hit singles including “Drive,” “Ignoreland,” “Everybody Hurts,” “Man On The Moon” and “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.” The multi-platinum album earned worldwide success and remains one of the band’s most celebrated releases. (more…)