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REMHQ has posted a brief piece by their manager Bertis Downes which celebrate the 32nd anniversary of the band that also includes links to several articles about them that were posted upon the news of their disbandment back in September of last year.

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ON THIS DATE (28 YEARS AGO)

April 9, 1984- R.E.M. Reckoning is released.

# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5

# allmusic 5/5

# Rolling Stone (see original review below)

Reckoning is the second album by R.E.M., released on this date in 1984 by I.R.S. Records. Released to critical acclaim, it reached number 27 in the United States—where it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1991—and peaked at number 91 in the United Kingdom.

Produced by Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, the album was recorded at Reflection Sound Studio in Charlotte, North Carolina over 16 days in December 1983 and January 1984. Dixon and Easter intended to capture the sound of R.E.M.'s live performances, and used binaural recording on several tracks. Singer Michael Stipe dealt with darker subject matter in his lyrics, and water imagery is a recurring theme on the record.

After its debut album Murmur (1983) received critical acclaim, R.E.M. quickly began work on its second album. The group wrote new material prodigiously; guitarist Peter Buck recalled, "We were going through this streak where we were writing two good songs a week [...] We just wanted to do it; whenever we had a new batch of songs, it was time to record".

Due to the number of new songs the group had, Buck unsuccessfully tried to convince everyone to make the next album a double record. In November 1983, the band recorded 22 songs during a session with Neil Young producer Elliot Mazer in San Francisco. While Mazer was briefly considered as a candidate to produce the band's next album, R.E.M. ultimately decided to team up again with Murmur producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon.

R.E.M. started recording Reckoning at Reflection Sound in Charlotte, North Carolina, on December 8, 1983. The group recorded over two eight-day stretches around Christmas 1983, separated by two weeks of canceled studio time that allowed the band to play a show in Greensboro, North Carolina, go out to see a movie, and shoot a video in the studio. While the studio diary listed 16 days for recording, the album sleeve later claimed the album was recorded in 14 days, while in interviews Buck at times commented that the album was recorded in 11 days. The producers both disputed that the sessions were that short; Dixon insisted that they were at the studio for at least 25 days (during which he worked eighteen-hour days), while Easter said, "When I read 'eleven days' I thought, what the fuck! It was twenty days, which was still short, but it's not eleven."

ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW

Murky yet emotionally winning, brainy but boyishly enthusiastic, R.E.M.'s debut album, Murmur, burst onto the pop scene last year with minimal fanfare. Though some critics lumped the Athens, Georgia, quartet with the big-guitar bunch (the Alarm, Big Country), R.E.M.'s approach was more delicate and pastoral. Their sound was a curious fusion of vocalist Michael Stipe's bookish, still-wet-behind-the-ears pretension and guitarist Peter Buck's cheerful folky energy. The tunes aside, there was something positively seditious in a song like "Laughing," where an engagingly bright acoustic guitar arpeggio accompanied a lyric like "Laocoon ... martyred, misconstrued." Stipe's words may largely have been indecipherable, but Murmur was consistently intriguing. In short, the best LP of 1983.

On Reckoning, R.E.M. has opted for a more direct approach. The overall sound is crisper, the lyrics far more comprehensible. And while the album may not mark any major strides forward for the band, R.E.M.'s considerable strengths — Buck's ceaselessly inventive strumming, Mike Mills' exceptional bass playing and Stipe's evocatively gloomy baritone — remain unchanged.

If Murmur showed Buck to be a master of wide-eyed reverie, Reckoning finds him exploring a variety of guitar styles and moods, from furious upstrumming to wistful finger-picking. "Letter Never Sent" displays Buck at his sunniest, whirling off twelve-string licks with hoedown fervor, from a lock-step part in the verse that recalls early Talking Heads, to a cascading, Byrds-like riff in the chorus. Buck proves to be an equally infectious keyboard player; his echoey chords slide easily underneath Stipe's cry of "sorry" on the album's single, "So. Central Rain." And on "7 Chinese Brothers," Buck does it all: curt, distorted background chords, icy piano notes, warm chordal plucking and high-string riffs that drone as Stipe sketches, in a mournful hum, the fairy-tale story of a boy who swallowed the ocean. Yet, for all that aural activity, the song flows with elegiac grace.

Stipe, whose voice is usually mixed way back, comes up front for "Camera," an enigmatic account of failed love that's enhanced by an eerie single-string solo from Buck. While less powerful than Murmur's "Perfect Circle," this ballad demonstrates a surprising degree of emotional depth in Stipe's singing. On "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville," a more traditionally structured country rocker, Stipe stretches himself even further, singing in an exaggerated, down-home twang.

There's an off-the-cuff feel to much of Reckoning — even some of the band's jams and coproducer Mitch Easter's exhortations are preserved on side two. Unfortunately, improvisational songwriting has its pitfalls. The group, for example, could benefit from a tougher drum sound. Bill Berry shows a deft touch on the cymbals in the peppy "Harborcoat," but the martial beats of "Time after Time (Annelise)" are about as threatening as the Grenadian army. Stipe's amelodic singing also poses problems at times. While the band tends to use his voice as an instrument, his vocalizing in such songs as "Second Guessing" and "Little America" seems out of place, unsatisfying.

As a lyricist, Stipe has developed considerably over the past year. In "So. Central Rain," he notes, intriguingly, that "rivers of suggestion are driving me away." Yet he still waxes pedestrian on occasion, as in "Pretty Persuasion," which finds him griping, "Goddamn your confusion." His erratic meanderings may give the band some hip cachet, but they are an impediment that will prevent R.E.M. from transcending cult status. With skill and daring like theirs, the tiniest commercial concessions — some accessible lyrics from Stipe and a major-league drum sound — could win this band a massive audience.

Even without those changes, however, R.E.M.'s music is able to involve the listener on both an emotional and intellectual level. Not many records can do that from start to finish. "Jefferson, I think we're lost," cries Stipe at Reckoning's end, but I doubt it. These guys seem to know exactly where they're going, and following them should be fun.

~ Christopher Connelly

TRACKS:

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe except where noted.

Side one – Left

"Harborcoat" – 3:54

"7 Chinese Bros." – 4:18

"So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" – 3:15

"Pretty Persuasion" – 3:50

"Time After Time (AnnElise)" – 3:31

Side two – Right

"Second Guessing" – 2:51

"Letter Never Sent" – 2:59

"Camera" – 5:52

"(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" – 4:32

"Little America" – 2:58

1992 I.R.S. Vintage Years reissue bonus tracks

"Wind Out" (With Friends) – 1:58

"Pretty Persuasion" (live in studio) – 4:01

"White Tornado" (live in studio) – 1:51

"Tighten Up" (Archie Bell and Billy Butler; cover of Archie Bell & the Drells, 1968) – 4:08

"Moon River" (Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer; cover of Audrey Hepburn, 1961) – 2:21

2009 Deluxe Edition bonus disc (Live at the Aragon Ballroom)

"Femme Fatale" (Lou Reed; cover of The Velvet Underground, 1967) – 3:19

"Radio Free Europe" – 3:54

"Gardening at Night" – 3:38

"9–9" – 2:48

"Windout" – 2:13

"Letter Never Sent" – 3:03

"Sitting Still" – 3:13

"Driver 8" – 3:28

"So. Central Rain" – 3:23

"7 Chinese Bros." – 4:27

"Harborcoat" – 4:34

"Hyena" – 3:26

"Pretty Persuasion" – 3:49

"Little America" – 3:23

"Second Guessing" – 3:07

"(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" – 4:30

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Twenty eight years since Reckoning was first released???? Christ I feel so damned old..........

You're not the only one. I was a mere 20 years old when this one came out...

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All Things Music Plus

ON THIS DATE (29 YEARS AGO)

April 13, 1983 – R.E.M. Murmur is released.

# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5

# allmusic 5/5

Murmur is the debut album by R.E.M., released on this date in 1983 on I.R.S. Records. The record reached number 36 on the Billboard album chart. A re-recorded version of "Radio Free Europe" was the album's lead single and reached number 78 on the Billboard singles chart that year. Despite the acclaim awarded the album, by the end of 1983 Murmur had only sold about 200,000 copies, which I.R.S.'s Jay Boberg felt was below expectations. Murmur was eventually certified gold (500,000 units shipped) by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1991. In 1989, it was rated number eight on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s. In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Murmur the 92nd greatest album of all time.

Murmur drew critical acclaim upon its release for its sound, defined by singer Michael Stipe's cryptic lyrics, guitarist Peter Buck's jangly guitar style, and bassist Mike Mills' melodic basslines. R.E.M. started recording its debut album in December 1982. I.R.S. paired R.E.M. with producer Stephen Hague, who had a higher profile than the band's previous producer Mitch Easter. Hague's emphasis on technical perfection did not suit the band; the producer made the group perform multiple takes of the song "Catapult", which demoralized drummer Bill Berry. Also, Hague took the completed track to Synchro Sound studios in Boston and added keyboard parts to the track without the band's permission and to their dismay. Unsatisfied, the band members asked the label to let them record with Easter. I.R.S. agreed to a "tryout" session, allowing the band to travel to North Carolina and record the song "Pilgrimage" with Easter and producing partner Don Dixon. After hearing the track, I.R.S. permitted the group to record the album with Dixon and Easter.

R.E.M. entered Reflection Studios in Charlotte, North Carolina in January 1983 to begin recording sessions with Easter and Dixon. Much of the band's material for the album had been tested on preceding tours. Because of its bad experience with Hague, the band recorded the album via a process of negation, refusing to incorporate rock music clichés such as guitar solos or then-popular synthesizers, in order to give its music a timeless feel. Berry in particular was resistant to "odd" musical suggestions, insisting that his drums be recorded in a drummer's booth, a practice that was antiquated at the time. Dixon and Easter took a hands-off approach to much of the recording process. The pair would only fix up a vocal track or ask singer Michael Stipe to re-record a vocal if it was very substandard

REVIEW

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic

Leaving behind the garagey jangle pop of their first recordings, R.E.M. developed a strangely subdued variation of their trademark sound for their full-length debut album, Murmur. Heightening the enigmatic tendencies of Chronic Town by de-emphasizing the backbeat and accentuating the ambience of the ringing guitar, R.E.M. created a distinctive sound for the album -- one that sounds eerily timeless. Even though it is firmly in the tradition of American folk-rock, post-punk, and garage rock, Murmur sounds as if it appeared out of nowhere, without any ties to the past, present, or future. Part of the distinctiveness lies in the atmospheric production, which exudes a detached sense of mystery, but it also comes from the remarkably accomplished songwriting. The songs on Murmur sound as if they've existed forever, yet they subvert folk and pop conventions by taking unpredictable twists and turns into melodic, evocative territory, whether it's the measured riffs of "Pilgrimage," the melancholic "Talk About the Passion," or the winding guitars and pianos of "Perfect Circle." R.E.M. may have made albums as good as Murmur in the years following its release, but they never again made anything that sounded quite like it. [As far as deluxe editions go, Universal's 2008 expansion of R.E.M.'s 1983 debut Murmur leans toward the skimpy: it may spill over to two CDs, but the only bonus material is a live show recorded at Larry's Hideway in Toronto, just three months after the album's release. There was enough room on the first disc to add both the early Hib-Tone single of "Radio Free Europe" and their first EP, Chronic Town, plus assorted stray tracks; much of this material has shown up on various releases over the years -- the bulk being reissued on 1987's clearinghouse Dead Letter Office, which also had Chronic Town on the CD, but the Hib-Tone single has popped up on Eponymous and the rarities disc, 2006's And I Feel Fine -- so most R.E.M. fans have this in their collection, which is necessary as it's not here. Any lingering resentment over this missing music should be soothed by the live show on the second disc, which captures the band in full flight. This release constitutes the first official release of an early R.E.M. concert (there are bootlegs containing a slightly longer set but this is close enough to qualify as a full show) and it's a welcome addition to their catalog as it crackles with an energy that is missing from the hazy, ethereal Murmur. R.E.M. barrel through the bulk of the album -- only "Moral Kiosk" and "Shaking Through" are absent -- plus a chunk of Chronic Town, throwing in a cover of "There She Goes Again" and early versions of Reckoning's "Harborcoat," "7 Chinese Bros.," and "Just a Touch," which didn't surface until 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant. This wasn't a showcase night for R.E.M., it was just another gig on the tour, and that's the great thing about it: the band isn't self-conscious, they're just tearing through their songs, rocking harder than they did on any of their studio albums. It's direct and a little raw -- with microphone feedback on occasion -- in a way that none of their early albums are, and that's what makes it worthy of a special edition, even if it's hard not to wish that first disc had just a few extra cuts as well.

TRACKS:

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe, except where noted

Side one

"Radio Free Europe" – 4:06

"Pilgrimage" – 4:30

"Laughing" – 3:57

"Talk About the Passion" – 3:23

"Moral Kiosk" – 3:31

"Perfect Circle" – 3:29

Side two

"Catapult" – 3:55

"Sitting Still" – 3:17

"9-9" – 3:03

"Shaking Through" – 4:30

"We Walk" – 3:02

"West of the Fields" (Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe, and Neil Bogan) – 3:17

1992 The IRS Vintage Years edition bonus tracks

"There She Goes Again" (Lou Reed) – 2:48

"9-9" (Live in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, July 13, 1984) – 3:04

"Gardening at Night" (Live in Boston) – 3:47

"Catapult" (Live in Seattle, Washington, United States, June 27, 1984) – 4:03

2008 Deluxe Edition bonus disc (Live at Larry's Hideaway)

"Laughing" – 3:51

"Pilgrimage" – 4:08

"There She Goes Again" (Reed) – 2:43

"Seven Chinese Brothers" – 4:15

"Talk About the Passion" – 3:02

"Sitting Still" – 4:11

"Harborcoat" – 3:45

"Catapult" – 3:51

"Gardening at Night" – 3:33

"9-9" – 3:16

"Just a Touch" – 2:27

"West of the Fields" (Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe, and Bogan) – 3:06

"Radio Free Europe" – 4:57

"We Walk" – 2:55

"1,000,000" – 3:05

"Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" – 3:58

Edited by Jahfin
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Part 4 in the 6 part series from the AV Club at The Onion called Perfect Circle: An R.E.M. Story by Steven Hyden. This latest installment covers the period following the departure of Bill Berry when they released their first three albums without him, Up through Around the Sun. Not only was it a obviously a very difficult period for them, it was also a trying time to be a R.E.M. fan.

Part Four: Who Threw the Crushing Blow? (Up to Around The Sun)

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Label disputes post featuring the band's earliest demo cassette

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June 7, 2012

The digital archivist who restored the singles catalogs of

the Smiths, Joy Division and New Order in a series of blog projects is being strongly discouraged from starting a similar project collecting R.E.M.'s earliest work. In a blog post on the nascent R.E.M.cycle site, the blogger known as Analog Loyalist explained that Universal, the record company that owns the band's IRS Records catalog, issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice for an R.E.M. post on the writer's sister site The Power of Independent Trucking featuring a restored version of the band's first cassette demo, with early renditions of "Radio Free Europe," "Sitting Still" and "White Tornado."

"Tell me, what role does the IFPI (of which Universal is obviously a member) have to do with unreleased material recorded when the band had no record contract?," Analog Loyalist writes, referring to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. "These were demos freely given away by the band. On low-fi C45 cassettes. And the IFPI thinks it's their business how?"

The blogger is now reconsidering the wisdom of pursuing the project. "So you can see why I'm very hesitant to move forward with this blog, only because I don't want to see my efforts as a writer/archivist/engineer wasted," he writes.

The site would in fact be a very labor-intensive process. As explained in the sidebar for the R.E.M.,

Smiths and Joy Division/New Order sites, the tracks used are "taken from the best/earliest possible sources to avoid modern mastering techniques which crush the dynamics," and the artwork is "scanned at the highest possible resolution and the type was reset when possible using the original fonts." All works featured in these projects are from out-of-print sources, and some tracks have never been commercially released or reissued.

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When R.E.M. first disbanded the web was flooded with articles about them. One such article surmised that Monster, not Up, may well have been the most challenging record for their listeners. It used to be famous for being the album that showed up most frequently in used bins. I definitely understood that as many of the fans that came onboard with Out of Time and Automatic For the People had to be thrown off by such a loud and in your face album as Monster. At that point I had been a fan for quite some time so it didn't seem at all out of character to me as they would often break into stuff like "Toys In the Attic", "Academy Fight Song" (Mission of Burma) and "See No Evil" (Television) in concert that showed there was much more to them than their more folk-rock, introspective side. Plus, fanclub members had received a newsletter not long after the release of Out of Time that said their next album was going to be recorded live, straight to two-track. Once they got into the studio the sessions took on more of somber tone which resulted in Automatic For the People instead. Years after Monster had been released Stipe said that record had taken on a much more commercial sheen than originally planned and that New Adventures In Hi-Fi was much more along the lines of the album they originally intended to make. Of the records they made with Bill Berry after signing with Warner Brothers, New Adventures In Hi-Fi remains my favorite.

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From my last ever R.E.M. concert when they performed at the Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, Georgia four years ago tonight:

Support: The National, Modest Mouse

These Days

Living Well Is The Best Revenge

So Fast, So Numb

What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

Time After Time (Annelise)

Driver 8

Man-Sized Wreath

Walk Unafraid

Hollow Man

Ignoreland

Houston

Electrolite

(Don't Go Back To) Rockville

Auctioneer (Another Engine)

Harborcoat

The One I Love

I've Been High

Let Me In

Bad Day

Horse To Water

Orange Crush

I’m Gonna DJ

Encore

Supernatural Superserious

Losing My Religion

Pretty Persuasion

Nightswimming

Fall On Me *

Man On The Moon *

* with Johnny Marr on guitar

Edited by Jahfin
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Wolfgang's Vault is currently streaming R.E.M.'s concert from October 12, 1984 at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ in it's entirety. The quality is so good it makes one wonder why this show wasn't included on the 25th anniversary edition of Reckoning that came out a few years ago rather than the one from the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago that they included instead.

On the Document tip, the folks over at The R.E.M. Timeline page on Facebook have recently uploaded a couple of Work tour era gems from '87. Apparently they've come upon several old tapes from this tour (which appear to be few and far between) that they're cleaning up and are going to be uploading to The R.E.M. Timeline page leading up to the 25th Anniversary reissue of Document on September 25th.

Here's a couple of the tunes they've uploaded so far:

"Unknown Song" 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA September 3, 1987

"Fireplace" Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC October 3, 1987

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From REMHQ.com:

Projekt R.E.M.: Slovenian Musicians Pay Tribute To the Band and Raise Environmental Awareness

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A new U.S. Embassy music project will pay tribute to the songs of R.E.M. and will highlight environmental issues in the process. The U.S. Embassy in Slovenia will follow last year’s popular Bob Dylan music project with Projekt R.E.M.: Pure Energy Music, due out on September 8. Projekt R.E.M. features 16 songs by 15 popular artists, all covering classic R.E.M. songs. The project will be dedicated to raising awareness about environmental issues, and will highlight the work of many Slovenian environmental groups.

A major, free concert at Kongresni trg on September 8 will coincide with the release of the project’s music CD.

Once again the U.S. Embassy has put together an all-star cast of musicians... this time to interpret R.E.M. songs. The line-up includes Siddharta, Elvis Jackson, The Tide, N’toko, Vlado Kreslin (backed by Croatia’s The Bambi Molesters), Zoran Predin paired with Massimo Savič, Melodrom, Severa Gjurin, Murat & Jose, Narat, Lollobrigida, My Buddy Moose with Chris Eckman, Polona Kasal, Mia Žnidarič and Steve Klink Trio, The Toronto Drug Bust, and several more surprises. Songs will range from the early 1980’s right up to material from last year.

In addition many of the above vocalists came together for a “super session” to record a version of We All Go Back To Where We Belong, R.E.M.’s swan song from Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982 - 2011. The video for the song focuses on environmental awareness and features performances by Kjara’s Dance Project, Slovenia’s preeminent modern dance company. The video will premiere on MTV Slovenia in late August.

Events connected with the project will be designed to highlight environmental issues, and will coincide with a two-month environmental photography exhibition sponsored by the U.S. Embassy and Slovenian NGO Ecologists Without Borders, in conjunction with National Geographic magazine, in Tivoli Park’s Jakopičevo sprehajališče, in September and October. The September 8th concert will feature a “green exhibition,” allowing environmental groups to promote their activities and recruit volunteers. At the same time, the 72-page CD booklet is loaded with activities that anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

The environmental theme will be front and center, but the cultural component of the project will highlight one of America’s greatest bands. “R.E.M. is the greatest latter day band in America,” said U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Officer and project team leader Christopher Wurst. “They defined indie music in the 1980’s, captured the world’s attention in the 1990’s and have continued to record important music and put on great live shows right up to their break up last year” continued Wurst.

Over the years, R.E.M. has played several shows in Slovenia, both in Ljubljana and Isola. Their most recent concert was opened by Vlado Kreslin, and they were later joined onstage by Kreslin and Chris Eckman, both of whom are on Projekt R.E.M.

As with last year’s Bob Dylan Project, the U.S. Embassy, while working with local partners, has financed the entire project, and all of the aspects of the project—from the CD to the concert—are free to the public. The CD will be available to Slovenes, especially Slovenian volunteers, youth groups and to help promote local environmental NGOs.

For more information, visit slovenia.usembassy.gov.

Projekt R.E.M.: Pure Energy Music

Artist (Song)

N’toko (It’s the End of the World as We Know It…)

Polona Kasal (Drive)

Toronto Drug Bust (Man on the Moon)

Narat (The One I Love)

Severa Gjurin (Oh My Heart)

Siddharta (Imitation of Life)

Lollobrigida (Shiny Happy People)

Melodrom (Star Me Kitten)

My Buddy Moose, feat. Chris Eckman (Driver 8)

Elvis Jackson (Losing My Religion)

Mia Žnidarič in Steve Klink Trio, feat. David Jarh (Find the River)

The Tide (The Ascent of Man)

Vlado Kreslin & Bambi Molesters (Texarcana)

Murat & Jose (I’m Gonna DJ)

Zoran Predin & Massimo (Everybody Hurts)

“The Super Session” (We All Go Back To Where We Belong)

For more information from REMHQ.com, click here.

Edited by Jahfin
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