Sunday, 17 April 2022

Dangerous Times (side two)


Today we look at the other half of the songs R.E.M. would pen and perform in their first few months together. Those very early gigs often contained quite a few covers, but gradually more original material was written and made it into the live sets. By the end of the year, most of the band's set consisted of originals.

On 4th October, they played a second consecutive night at local venue Tyrone's OC, a place where they would become increasingly familiar over the next 12 months. Among the set that night were songs that were played during their very first set at St. Mary's Church in April, a few newer tunes and a sprinkling of covers. Observers of the band's earliest shows note the vast improvement of the performances over a very short period. By October, just six months since their debut, they were altogether tighter and slicker. They remained fast and furious - they didn't do slow songs in those days - and occasionally a little ramshackle, but the seeds were beginning to sprout.

Today's selection of tunes is taken from that Tyrone's show and features 8 more of their very earliest songs, including four they played at their first show - I Can Only Give You Everything, Action, Schéhérazade and Lisa Says. The other four include two songs that would become among their most loved numbers over the next few years.

The quality of this recording is significantly better than the cassette-sourced stuff I posted on Friday, so I haven't had to tinker much with it at all. I've attempted to remove the audience sound (with mixed results), and I've cropped the beginning of Schéhérazade during which Stipe is heard shouting greetings to audience members. There's still one left in - to someone called Kathleen - which I was unable to edit out. Finally, the original tape drops out at the end of Gardening At Night and I have no other material available to attempt a reconstruction, so I've faded it out.

That aside, it's still a fascinating document of where R.E.M. were at the time. There were very vague shades of what was to come, but in general, they were an extremely energetic garage rock band yet to hone the skills that would make them the biggest band on the planet by the end of the decade. Today's artwork features two more shots taken at R.E.M.'s very first show - Peter Buck on the front and Mike Mills on the back.

Grab it here

That's all for now.

6 comments:

  1. Whoa. You do spoil us. Happy (Mitch) Easter. Looking forward to these two recordings, Robster. Hope you’re feeling well now.

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  2. Thanks for this Robster, these are much more than just historical documents or footnotes

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  3. This is fascinating stuff (well, at least for a fellow REM obsessive) . I never knew that tidbit about the Wuxtry recordings actually being from the Jackson St rehearsal space. A few years ago I found a CD on ebay called "40 Watt Club" that purportedly had a show from May 30, 1980 at the 40 Watt Club as well as the "Wuxtry session", which we now know is from Jackson St. This date and setlist appear to match the historical records but I've never seen the CD before or since. The sound quality is not as good as the Tyrones show but is quite listenable

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    1. Hi Greg. I've just looked this up. I've never come across this bootleg before but found it to stream here: https://archive.org/details/REM_1980-05-30
      There are a couple of pieces mis-information on the site. Schéhérazade is an original, obviously not a cover by the Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov! Dangerous Times is not a cover by Cher, but another early original. A Girl Like You is also an orignal, not a cover.

      There are also three originals I'm not familiar with at all. She Said (also labelled on the site as Chappaquiddick), Mediocrity and I've Got A Charm. I'll have to dig a little deeper to see what I can find out about these.

      Thanks for the tip though - it's certainly the earliest recording I'm aware of, had no idea it existed.

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    2. Hey Robster
      I went to that website you sent and that is indeed the cd I have. That part about Rimsky-Korsakov is hysterical because he did compose a work titled "Scheherazade"(I'm not smart enough to have known that prior to googling it). Why REM named their song that I have no idea because the lyrics are mostly unintelligible. I can only assume the uploader googled it up as well. Can't tell is they are being literal or taking the piss, but it's quite funny. You've probably also determined that Cher did record a song called "Dangerous Times" and The Young Rascals also recorded a song called "A Girl Like You", but not these REM versions obviously. These are the kinds of mysteries that keep me from doing real work!

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  4. You, sir.....are a genius. Incredible knowledge and a (very) belated thanks for such an effort.

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