On this day in music history: November 7, 1988…

On this day in music history: November 7, 1988 – “Green”, the sixth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M., it is recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN and Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY from May – September 1988. Fulfilling their contract with I.R.S. Records with their fifth album “Document”, R.E.M. leave the label. Several labels court the band, before deciding on Warner Bros Records. Their decision is based on Warner Bros’ granting them full creative control, though they’re offered more money to sign with other majors. The deal is reported to be worth between $6 and $12 million dollars. The band write and record demos back home in Athens, GA, before moving into Ardent Studios in Memphis. Final recording and mixing are completed at Bearsville Studios in upstate New York. When “Green” is released, R.E.M. make the decision to not release the first track “Orange Crush” (#1 Modern Rock), as a commercial single in the US. Its enigmatic video is rotated heavily on MTV, though does not actually feature R.E.M. in it. The title makes reference to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War, having detrimental affects on all who are exposed to it. The second single is the polar opposite of the previous one. “Stand” (#6 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #1 Mainstream Rock) is written after a discussion, about “super bubblegummy pop songs” that they had grown up listening to. Wanting to up the ante, lead singer Michael Stipe intentionally writes “the most inane lyrics” he can. “Stand” becomes R.E.M.’s biggest single to date, later used as the theme song for comedian Chris Elliott’s sitcom “Get A Life”. It is also later parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic as “Spam”. The third single “Pop Song ‘89” (#86 Pop, #14 Modern Rock, #16 Mainstream Rock), is accompanied by a video directed by Stipe. He appears shirtless in the clip, dancing with three other women who are topless. When MTV tells him they have to put black censor bars over the women’s breasts in order for the video to be aired, Stipe asks that they cover his chest with the censor bars stating “a nipple is a nipple”. The final track “Untitled” is not listed on the back cover, and the space where the title is supposed to appear, is left blank. “Green” is another critical and commercial success for R.E.M., spinning off one final single with “Get Up”. The four singles are also issued as a limited edition 7" box set titled “Singleactiongreen”, and is packaged with a poster. “Green” is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl (the latter does not contain bonus material) in 2013, to commemorate its 25th anniversary, including a live bonus disc recorded in Greensboro, NC in 1989. Five tracks from the live set are released as a limited edition vinyl EP on Record Store Day in April of 2013. “Green” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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