Eleven years after their formation, R.E.M. found themselves on the cusp of world domination. 1991's 'Out Of Time' would not only yield their eternal hit single, but would also prove to be their worldwide mainstream breakthrough album. Last year, the obligatory 25th Anniversary deluxe reissue featured 19 previously unreleased demos from the 'Out Of Time' sessions. However, it was by no means a complete set.
This was a particularly productive time for the band. They never seemed short of material, but this period was especially fruitful. The album marked a departure from previous efforts as the use of electric guitars was dramatically scaled back in favour of acoustic instruments. 'Out Of Time' was a record of upbeat songs in contrast to its far more melancholy follow-up.
For these reasons, it's quite easy to see why the three songs I'm featuring today didn't make it onto 'Out Of Time'. Strangely, none of them were to feature in last year's deluxe package either. It's A Free World Baby did get a full production but, for whatever reason - maybe its lyrical theme which doesn't quite fit that of the rest of the album - it was cast aside. Instead it was issued as a b-side to Drive and appeared on a couple of soundtracks. I always preferred this earlier demo take though.
Here I Am Again (also sometimes known with a bracketed sub-title of Kerouac #4) was a very early song in the 'Out Of Time' story and ended up becoming two songs. Some of its lyrics were used in the brilliant Fretless - a song that was inexplicably left off the album - while the instrumental part turned up on a later b-side as Organ Song.
Finally, it's quite obvious why Speed Metal didn't get onto OOT, though it wouldn't have surprised me if it had been held over for 'Monster' or 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi' given its far more rocky nature. It's not 'metal' by any means, but it is a bit of fun and it's kind of a shame that it never materialised in any form other than this demo.