Friday, 28 July 2017

The hidden world of R.E.M. #17

The 1999 fan club single was the first to be issued on CD. My guess is any plans to make it a 7" were scuppered by the running times. Both songs were recorded live in October 1998 at Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit concert in California. Young, in fact, features on both tracks. On one side was Young backed by R.E.M. (minus Stipe) performing Ambulance Blues, originally the closing track on Young's 1974 album 'On The Beach'. However, you're getting the other side.

As you probably know, Country Feedback is my favourite R.E.M. song. It's also Michael Stipe's. This epic nine-minute acoustic version features the then-touring line-up of the band with Young guesting on guitar. He plays a particularly long solo, but that's not wholly surprising I suppose. It sounds very different to the album version, mainly because of the piano and acoustic guitars-a-plenty. The album version will never be beaten, but this one is hardly inferior.

1999 was the year of Man On The Moon, the movie about US comedian Andy Kaufman. R.E.M. wrote and scored the mainly orchestral soundtrack which also included a couple of new songs along with the established title track. Kaufman was played in the movie by Jim Carrey who performed one of those new songs with the band. This Friendly World is a disposable pop song that Stipe sings nicely while Jim Carrey larks around supposedly in character in his annoying over-acting kind of way. No, I'm not a fan.

Not many people bought the soundtrack other than devoted R.E.M. fans, even though the single released from it - The Great Beyond - was the band's highest-charting hit in the UK. This Friendly World is a silly, non-essential piece, but a fairly unknown curio which is why I'm including here.


  1. Great to hear that version of 'Country Feedback', which I've somehow managed to miss for the last 18 years. Thanks Robster.

  2. I've somehow missed it for 18 and a half years.............