Category: R.E.M.

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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On this day in music history: July 28, 1986 – “Lifes Rich Pageant”, the fourth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Don Gehman, it is recorded at Belmont Mall Studios in Belmont, IN from April – May 1986. Following up the critically acclaimed “Fables Of The Reconstruction”, the Athens, GA based band record at John Mellencamp’s studio with his producer Don Gehman (John Cougar Mellencamp, Hootie & The Blowfish). It sees them evolving their sound and growing past their college radio fan base, toward mainstream rock acceptance. The album takes its title from a line in the 1964 Peter Sellers film “A Shot In The Dark”. It spins off the singles “Fall On Me” and “Superman”, becoming their most successful album to date. It is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its original release. Disc one features the remastered original twelve track album. Disc two contains nineteen additional tracks including early demos of the songs that make the finished album, and several others that issued as B-sides or are previously unreleased. The set also comes with a twelve page booklet, a poster and photo cards of the band. The album is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2011. Universal Music Group also releases a vinyl LP on July 29, 2016 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of its original release. “Life’s Rich Pageant” peaks at number twenty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: April 11, 1983 – “Murmur”, the debut album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter, it is recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC from January 6 – February 23, 1983. After recording and releasing their first single “Radio Free Europe” on small indie label Hib-Tone Records in 1981, R.E.M. are signed by I.R.S. Records (then distributed by A&M Records) just a few months later. Their first release for I.R.S. is the five song EP “Chronic Town” in August of 1982. Its modest success gives the label confidence for R.E.M. to record a full album. The band initially begin recording their first album in December 1982 with producer Stephen Hague (OMD, The Pet Shop Boys), but soon part ways when they have differences over musical direction. Instead they once again work with Mitch Easter, co-producer of their EP along with Don Dixon. Unlike Hague, Dixon and Easter take a mostly hands off approach while working with R.E.M., letting the bands creative process move forward organically. The bands unique and distinctive sound lead by Peter Buck’s bright, chiming guitar, Mike Mills’ melodic bass lines and Bill Berry’s solid back beat give them a classic but still contemporary feel. Those elements combined with lead singer Michael Stipe’s often cryptic lyrics, further obscured by singing them in a indistinct manner, sets them apart from their contemporaries. Stipe’s propensity for singing in this manner lead many to wryly nicknaming the album “Mumble”. It spins off two singles including the re-recorded version of their indie debut “Radio Free Europe” (#78 Pop, #25 Mainstream Rock). First released on CD in 1984, it is remastered and reissued in 1995. It is also reissued as a 24K gold CD and half-speed mastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 1995. To commemorate the album’s twenty fifth anniversary, it is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original twelve song album. The second disc features a complete live concert recorded at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto, CDN in 1983. Other bonus tracks include a radio spot advertising the album. Out of print on vinyl for nearly twenty years, “Murmur” is reissued as a 180 gram LP through Universal’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series in 2009. “Murmur” peaks at number thirty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 9, 1984 – “Reckoning”, the second album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter, it is recorded at Reflection Sound in Charlotte, NC from December 8, 1983 – January 16, 1984. Issued as the follow up to their critically acclaimed debut “Murmur”, the band record their new album in just eleven days of studio time (spread over a five week period), having stockpiled new material in the interim. It spins off two singles including “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” (#85 Pop) and “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”. When R.E.M. makes their national television debut on Late Night With David Letterman on October 6, 1983 while promoting their first album, they perform “So. Central Rain” publicly for the first time. Lead singer Michael Stipe sings the song with its not yet completed lyrics (mumbling through the sections where the words are not finished) and before the song has an official title. Original pressings of the album lists the individual sides as “(L)EFT” and “®IGHT”. It is reissued on CD in 1992 with five additional bonus tracks. The title is remastered and reissued again in 2009 as a double CD edition, with the second disc featuring a live concert recorded in Chicago in July of 1984. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2009. “Reckoning” peaks at number twenty seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

On this day in music history: March 12, 1991 – “Out Of Time”, the seventh album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M., it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY, John Keane Studios in Athens, GA, Soundscape Studios in Atlanta, GA and Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN from September – October 1990. After touring in support of “Green”, their first album for Warner Bros. Records, R.E.M. take a year long hiatus before starting work on the the follow up. When they reconvene, the band members decide to make an album that stands in stark contrast to the previous one. Writing songs on non traditional instruments like mandolin, acoustic guitars and organ, R.E.M. uses this instrumentation as the basis for much of the new album. The mood and feel of the completed album is quieter compared to the bands normally electric guitar based sound, most prominent on the first single “Losing My Religion” (#4 Pop), which features guitarist Peter Buck playing the mandolin as a lead instrument. The song is accompanied by a surreal and visually striking music video directed by Punjabi born filmmaker Tarsem Singh. Filled with religious imagery and based on Indian cinema, the video becomes an immediate fan favorite, broadening R.E.M.’s audience way beyond their original core fan base. The video wins six MTV WMA Awards including Video Of The Year. It also spins off three singles including “Shiny Happy People” (w/ Kate Pierson of The B-52’s) (#10 Pop) and “Radio Song” (w/ KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions) (#48 Mainstream Rock). At the time of its original release, Warner Bros issues some promo copies of the CD in a limited edition “portfolio” package, featuring ten postcards, with the CD featuring a custom “wood grain” label and the outer packaging printed on vellum. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary in 2016, “Out Of Time” is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original eleven track album, with the second disc featuring nineteen previously unreleased demos. The European edition contains a third CD with a full live concert, and a Blu-ray disc with hi-rez versions of the album remixed into 5.1 surround sound. It also includes music videos and a documentary on the making of the album. It is also reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. The huge critical and commercial success, it gives R.E.M. the biggest selling album of their career. It is nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning three including Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, Best Alternative Album and Best Music Video Short Form in 1992. “Out Of Time” spends two weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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.

On this day in music history: October 6, 1992 – “Automatic For The People”, the eighth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M., it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Bearsville, NY, Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, John Keane Studio in Athens, GA, Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA, and Bosstown Studios in Atlanta, GA, from Late 1991 – Mid 1992. Issued as the follow up to the hugely successful “Out Of Time”, much like its predecessor, the overall mood of the album is quiet and subdued, though the lyrical tone of the songs are decidedly darker with many dealing with mortality. The band originally intend for it to be a “harder rocking album”, but does not come out that way, when they are unsatisfied with the thirty songs that are written and demoed. Instead, they take a more unorthodox approach to writing the songs. Instead of playing their usual instruments, drummer Bill Berry plays bass during the writing sessions, with bassist Mike Mills playing organ or piano, and guitarist Peter Buck playing mandolin. Composing songs without the presence of drums, has an overall affect on the feel of the finished product. The album takes its title from a phrase off of the sign of a soul food restaurant (Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods) located in the bands’ hometown of Athens, GA. The actual image pictured on the cover is from the sign in front of the Sinbad Motel in Miami, FL. It spins off five singles including “Drive” (#1 Modern Rock, #28 Pop), “Man On The Moon” (#4 Modern Rock) and “Everybody Hurts” (Modern Rock #21, #29 Pop). Written about late comedian Andy Kaufman, “Man On The Moon” also becomes the title of a biopic starring Jim Carrey as Kaufman, and directed by Miloš Forman. Some CD copies come in a limited edition wooden pine box. It also contains sixteen cards with artwork and photographs printed on vellum. In 2003, it is reissued as a hybrid DualDisc, and as a DVD-A disc, with the latter featuring DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mixes, and the original stereo mix in high resolution. For its twenty fifth anniversary in 2017, it is remastered and reissued as a three CD + Blu-ray box set. The extras include a live concert performance recorded at The 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. Also previously unreleased demo recordings, many of songs not being re-recorded for the final album. The Blu-ray features a new remix in Dolby True-HD 7.1 sound, and with the standard stereo mix in high resolution sound (with one additional bonus track. The Blu-ray also contains seven music videos, as well as the original electronic press kit video. Initially issued on limited edition vinyl on its original 1992 release (with sides one and two titled “DRIVE” and “RIDE”), it is briefly reissued in Europe in 1999. The album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2017. “Automatic For The People” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 27, 1994 – “Monster”, the ninth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Scott Litt and R. E.M., it is recorded at Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA, Crossover Soundstage in Atlanta, GA, Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, Ocean Way Recording in Los Angeles, CA from April – May 1994. Marking a dramatic shift away from the quieter tone of the bands two previous albums, “Monster” features more loud, aggressive guitar driven material. The band experiences numerous set backs during the recording sessions, with drummer Bill Berry and bassist Mike Mills becoming ill on different occasions, bringing a halt to recording. Once recording starts again in Miami, sessions are stopped once again when lead singer Michael Stipe has to have emergency dental surgery. These events put the band way behind schedule in completing the album, leading to tensions that nearly cause R.E.M. to break up. The first single “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” (#21 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #2 Mainstream Rock), whose title is inspired by an incident in which CBS news anchor Dan Rather is victim of an unprovoked attack by two mentally disturbed men shouting the phrase at him. The album spins off three more singles including “Bang And Blame” (#19 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #3 Mainstream Rock) and “Crush With Eyeliner” (#33 Modern Rock, #20 Mainstream Rock). “Monster” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 1, 1987 – “Document”, the fifth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by R.E.M. and Scott Litt, it is recorded at Sound Emporium in Nashville, TN and Master Control in Los Angeles, CA from April 30 – May 2, 1987. By 1987, R.E.M. have steadily climbed the ladder of success, going from a having a small but loyal following in the early 80’s, to scoring consecutive Gold albums with minimal airplay. Having worked with co-producer Don Gehman on their fourth album “Life’s Rich Pagent”, the band intend to work with him again on the follow up. Gehman is unable to work with them, when sessions on Mellencamp’s “The Lonesome Jubilee” drag on for nearly nine months. Instead, he suggests they work with recording engineer Scott Litt. R.E.M. and Litt establish an instant rapport, and marks the beginning of a successful working relationship that spans five albums. Several songs on the new album make commentary on the conservative political environment of the US, under Ronald Reagan’s presidency, on tracks like “Exhuming McCarthy” and “Welcome To The Occupation”. The Athens, GA band’s fifth release marks a major turning point in their career, providing them with their long awaited mainstream breakthrough. The release of “Document is led by the single “The One I Love” (#9 Pop),which becomes R.E.M’s first US top ten hit, and their highest charting single to date. It is followed by “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (#69 Pop), giving a verbal nod to Bob Dylan’s "Subterranean Homesick Blues”, with its vivid stream of conscious word play and imagery. The album spins off a third and final single with “Finest Worksong” in March of 1988. R.E.M. reaches a new plateau of chart success and record sales with “Document”, just as the band’s contract with I.R.S. Records is coming to an end. Unable to hold on to their biggest band, I.R.S. loses them to Warner Bros. Records, who offer R.E.M. a lucrative multi-album deal. “Document” is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, issued in a mini LP sleeve that replicates the original vinyl album release. The album is also remixed into Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound, and released as a DVD-A disc in 2003. The disc also includes the music videos for all three singles. In 2005, it is issued as a hybrid DualDisc featuring the original stereo mix and the DTS 5.1 surround mix, along with the aforementioned music videos. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary in 2012, “Document” is reissued as a double CD box set. Featuring the original eleven song album on disc one, the second disc features a live concert recorded at the Musikcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht, Holland on September 14, 1987. The album is most recently reissued as a limited edition (to 2,500 copies) 180 gram gold vinyl pressing on May 31, 2018. “Document” peaks at number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 28, 1986 – “Lifes Rich Pageant”, the fourth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Don Gehman, it is recorded at Belmont Mall Studios in Belmont, IN from April – May 1986. Following up the critically acclaimed “Fables Of The Reconstruction”, the Athens, GA based band record at John Mellencamp’s studio with his producer Don Gehman (John Cougar Mellencamp, Hootie & The Blowfish). It sees them evolving their sound and growing past their college radio fan base, toward mainstream rock acceptance. The album takes its title from a line in the 1964 Peter Sellers film “A Shot In The Dark”. It spins off the singles “Fall On Me” and “Superman”, becoming their most successful album to date. It is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its original release. Disc one features the remastered original twelve track album. Disc two contains nineteen additional tracks including early demos of the songs that make the finished album, and several others that issued as B-sides or are previously unreleased. The set also comes with a twelve page booklet, a poster and photo cards of the band. The album is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2011. Universal Music Group also releases a vinyl LP on July 29, 2016 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of its original release. “Life’s Rich Pageant” peaks at number twenty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.