Friday, 23 June 2017

The hidden world of R.E.M. #12

The noughties. Not exactly R.E.M.'s best decade. In fact, it sadly marked the end. In 2001, 'Reveal' was released. I remember MrsRobster being quite shocked at my reaction having played it for the first time. "Well, that was shit!" I remarked. I was disappointed and angry that my favourite band could make such a terrible record. Little did I realise it was going to get worse before it got better...

'Reveal' did have a couple of  decent tracks tucked away on it though, but they were swamped by average songs and a production so brightly polished you needed shades. I've Been High was a lovely tune, featuring one of Stipe's most delicate vocals. I'll Take The Rain wasn't half bad either, while The Lifting could have been one of the album's standouts had an earlier version (that featured on the b-side of the awful lead single Imitation Of Life) been used instead.

For some reason, someone had the idea that this should be the album that deserved the full remix treatment. A bunch of remixers were asked to contribute to the project and the best results were compiled by the band. The result, titled 'r.e.m.IX', was released as a free download from the band's website in 2002. Thank god it was free because had I paid for it, I might well have hunted Stipe, Buck and Mills down and put them out of their misery once and for all. A bunch of insipid and uninspired versions of songs from 'Reveal' did not make me feel any better about the band I once adored. In fact it convinced me to move on. The album wasn't particularly well-received by the critics either, so whatever the initial aims for the project were, it was clear they had failed.

'r.e.m.IX' was soon forgotten by fans, written off as something of a folly. However, just in case you were wondering what it sounded like, I'm presenting the two least-bad tracks here. In fact, Mark Bianchi (aka Her Space Holiday) actually came up with something quite nice. Not that 'nice' is necessarily a complimentary word, especially for music. But his instrumental mix of I've Been High is more than bearable. The version of The Lifting was done by Andy Lemaster of Athens, G.A. band Now It's Overhead and is just about passable. With interest in this series already on the wane, I hope I'm not killing it stone dead with this week's offering, I'm not exactly selling it to you, am I? Still, it's out of the way now. It does get better...


  1. I'm in slightly uncharted territory here. My knowledge of the later REM recordings is scant and very little of what I did hear bowled me over. I enjoyed these two tunes a great deal though. I'm not quite sure what that tells me - perhaps I should go back and give 'Reveal' another listen.

  2. With you totally on your review of 'Reveal'. The band seemed rudderless at this point in time and the record label seemed to take advantage,

    Please....please.....please..........see the series through. I've loved hearing all this new stuff to my ears.