Friday, 28 April 2017

The hidden world of R.E.M. #4

R.E.M. undertook a mammoth world tour in 1999 in support of 'Up', their first record without drummer Bill Berry. 'Up' remains a difficult record. It's undeniably too long and a few songs wouldn't be missed. On the other hand, it catches the band in experimental mode and some of the songs are right up there among the finest of their post-80s material. MrsRobster and I caught them at Earls Court in London on that tour, but shortly after the album was released in 1998, Jools Holland dedicated an entire episode of 'Later...' to the band. Some of the songs from that set made it onto b-sides of subsequent singles but the full performance - including today's selection - has never been officially released.

One of the highlights on 'Up' was The Apologist. Stipe sounds genuinely emotive on this song, to the point where I can even forgive him for using the awfully hackneyed lyric "I get down on my knees and pray". New Test Leper featured on the previous album 'New Adventures In Hi-Fi' and is, to this day, one of my favourite R.E.M. songs. A wonderful track whose lyrics remain poignant.


  1. Couldn't agree more with your assessment of 'Up'. I'd forgotten about the Later special, this is a particularly lovely reading of 'New Test Leper'.

  2. Daysleeper from Up is a very affecting record but I don't know why, particularly.

  3. I caught them in Manchester on the same tour and thought they were on tremendous form, albeit they were now clearly an arena/stadium band and had the stage show to prove it.

    Very fair assessment of 'Up'.