Murmur is the debut album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M., released in 1983 on I.R.S. Records. Murmur drew critical acclaim upon its release for its sound, defined by singer Michael Stipe's cryptic lyrics, guitarist Peter Buck's jangly guitar style, and bassist's Mike Mills' melodic basslines.
R.E.M. started recording its debut album in December 1982. I.R.S. paired R.E.M. with producer Stephen Hague, who had a higher profile than the band's previous producer Mitch Easter.Buckley, p. 71 Hague's emphasis on technical perfection did not suit the band; the producer made the group perform multiple takes of the song "Catapult", which demoralized drummer Bill Berry. Also, Hague took the completed track to Synchro Sound studios in Boston and added keyboard parts to the track without the band's permission and to their dismay.Black, p. 72 Unsatisfied, the band members asked the label to let them record with Easter.Buckley, p. 72 I.R.S. agreed to a "tryout" session, allowing the band to travel to North Carolina and record the song "Pilgrimage" with Easter and producing partner Don Dixon. After hearing the track, I.R.S. permitted the group to record the album with Dixon and Easter.Buckley, p. 78
R.E.M. entered Reflection Studios in Charlotte, North Carolina in January 1983 to begin recording sessions with Easter and Dixon. Much of the band's material for the album had been tested on preceding tours. Because of its bad experience with Hague, the band recorded the album via a process of negation, refusing to incorporate rock music clichés such as guitar solos or then-popular synthesizers, in order to give its music a timeless feel. Berry in particular was resistant to "odd" musical suggestions, insisting that his drums be recorded in a drummer's booth, a practice that was antiquated at the time.Buckley, p. 79 Dixon and Easter took a hands-off approach to much of the recording process. The pair would only fix up a vocal track or ask singer Michael Stipe to re-record a vocal if it was very substandard.Buckley, p. 89
Murmurs sound characterized the quieter, introverted side of the first wave of alternative rock in the United States. The sound was new at the time, though not stepping beyond the constructs of traditional rock music. The guitars have a bright ring like chimes that brought on comparisons to The Byrds, and the bass guitar has the bright punchy sound of the Rickenbacker favored by Mike Mills. Mills carries much of the melodic element of the music on the bass, contributing to the moody sound of early R.E.M. albums. Also contributing to this sound is the distant singing of Michael Stipe whose obscure lyrics, sung indistinctly, lend to the mystery and depth of the music.
In a rare instance of R.E.M. co-writing, Stipe asked friend Neil Bogan to contribute lyrics to "West of the Fields."
The trestle featured on the back cover of the original vinyl LP release, originally part of the Georgia Railroad line into downtown Athens, has become something of a local landmark. Plans to demolish the trestle, now commonly referred to as the "Murmur Trestle," met with public outcry. On October 2, 2000, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission voted to save the trestle., Athens-Clarke County Online. Retrieved August 17, 2006.
Copies of the initial tape edition—catalogue number CS 70604—list "There She Goes Again" as the final track, but it is not present. This mistake was fixed with subsequent printings.
Murmur was released in April 1983. The record reached number 36 on the Billboard album chart.Buckley, p. 357–58 A re-recorded version of "Radio Free Europe" was the album's lead single and reached number 78 on the Billboard singles chart that year. Despite the acclaim awarded the album, by the end of 1983 Murmur had only sold about 200,000 copies, which I.R.S.'s Jay Boberg felt was below expectations.Buckley, p. 95 Murmur was eventually certified gold (500,000 units shipped) by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1991. RIAA.com. Retrieved on May 12, 2008.
The album drew substantial critical acclaim. Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars. Reviewer Steve Pond felt the album fulfilled the promise the band showed on Chronic Town. He wrote, "Murmur is the record on which trade that potential for results: an intelligent, enigmatic, deeply involving album, it reveals a depth and cohesiveness to R.E.M. that the EP could only suggest." He concluded, "R.E.M. is clearly the important Athens band."Pond, Steve. . Rolling Stone. May 25, 1983. Retrieved on May 12, 2008 It was Rolling Stones Best Album of 1983, beating Michael Jackson's Thriller, The Police's Synchronicity and U2's War. Buck noted in 2002 that I.R.S. was "mind-boggled" by the album's positive reviews, especially in the British press, since R.E.M. had not yet toured that country.Buckley, p. 77-78
Since its release, Murmur has featured heavily in various "must have" lists compiled by the music media. In 1989, it was rated number eight on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s.http In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Murmur the 92nd greatest album of all time. Some of the more prominent of these lists to feature Murmur are shown below; this information is adapted from acclaimedmusic.net.
*Bill Berry – percussion, drums, bass guitar, piano, backing vocals
*Peter Buck – guitar
*Mike Mills – bass guitar, drums, piano, backing vocals
*Michael Stipe – vocals
;Production and additional musicians
*Greg Calbi – mastering at Sterling Sound, New York City, New York, United States
*Don Dixon – co-producer, bass guitar on "Perfect Circle"
*Mitch Easter – co-producer
*Carl Grasso – art design
*Ann Kinney – art design
*Sandra Lee Phipps – photography and art design
Murmur was bundled together with Chronic Town and Reckoning in the United Kingdom as The Originals in 1993.
On November 25, 2008, I.R.S. Records, A&M, and Universal Music released a 25th anniversary edition two-disc reissue of Murmur. Disc one features the standard 12-track album, digitally remastered, and disc two contains a previously unreleased live concert the band played at Larry's Hideaway, Toronto, Canada, on July 9, 1983. In addition to Murmur songs, the set includes tunes from the Chronic Town EP, a Velvet Underground cover, and early versions of songs from Reckoning and Lifes Rich Pageant. The release also includes a fold-out poster insert, featuring exclusive essays by producers Don Dixon and Mitch Easter, as well as former I.R.S. executives Jay Boberg, Sig Sigworth, and art designer Carl Grasso.
†I.R.S. Vintage Years edition, with bonus tracks
‡Remastered edition on 180-gram vinyl and gold Compact Disc
•Remastered Deluxe Edition, with Live at Larry's Hide-Away bonus disc
*This text has been derived from Murmur (album) on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0
R.E.M. is an American rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. R.E.M. was one of the first popular alternative rock bands, and gained early attention due to Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style and Stipe's unclear vocals. R.E.M. released its first single, "Radio Free Europe", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band's first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the band released its critically acclaimed debut album Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single "The One I Love". The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.
By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed as a pioneer of the genre and released its two most commercially successful albums, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which veered from the band's established sound. R.E.M.'s 1994 release Monster was a return to a more rock-oriented sound. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; the tour was marred by medical emergencies suffered by three band members. In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US$80 million, at the time the most expensive recording contract in history. The following year, Bill Berry left the band, while Buck, Mills, and Stipe continued the group as a three-piece. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In January 1980, Michael Stipe met Peter Buck in the Athens record store where Buck worked. The pair discovered that they shared similar tastes in music, particularly punk rock and protopunk artists like Patti Smith, Television, and The Velvet Underground. Stipe said, "It turns out that I was buying all the records that was saving for himself."Gumprecht, Blake. "R.E.M.". Alternative America. Winter 1983. Stipe and Buck soon met fellow University of Georgia students Mike Mills and Bill Berry,Holdship, Bill. "R.E.M.: Rock Reconstruction Getting There". Creem. September 1985. who had played music together since high school.Buckley, p. 30 The quartet agreed to collaborate on several songs; Stipe later commented that "there was never any grand plan behind any of it". Their still-unnamed band spent several months rehearsing and played its first show on April 5, 1980 at a friend's birthday party held in a converted Episcopal church. After considering names like "Twisted Kites", "Cans of Piss", and "Negro Wives", the band settled on "R.E.M.", which Stipe selected at random from a dictionary.Buckley, p. 39
The band members eventually dropped out of school to focus on their developing group. They found a manager in Jefferson Holt, a record store clerk who was so impressed by an R.E.M. performance in his hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that he moved to Athens.Buckley, p. 41 R.E.M.'s success was almost immediate in Athens and surrounding areas; the band drew progressively larger crowds for shows, which caused some resentment in the Athens music scene.Buckley, p. 46 Over the next year and a half, R.E.M. toured throughout the Southern United States. Touring was arduous since a touring circuit for alternative rock bands did not then exist. The group had to tour in an old blue van driven by Holt, and the band members lived on a food allowance of $2 a day.Buckley, p. 53–54
During the summer of 1981, R.E.M. recorded its first single, "Radio Free Europe", at producer Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The single was released on the local independent record label Hib-Tone with an initial pressing of one thousand copies, which quickly sold out.Sullivan, p. 27 Despite its limited pressing, the single garnered critical acclaim, and was listed as one of the ten best singles of the year by The New York Times.Gray, p. 497
I.R.S. Records and cult success: 1982–1986
R.E.M. recorded the Chronic Town EP with Mitch Easter in October 1981, and planned to release it on a new indie label named Dasht Hopes.Buckley, p. 59 However, I.R.S. Records acquired a demo of the band's first recording session with Easter that had been circulating for months.Buckley, p. 61–63 The band turned down the advances of major label RCA Records in favor of I.R.S., with whom they signed a contract in May 1982. I.R.S. released Chronic Town that August as its first American release.Buckley, p. 66–67 A positive review of the EP by NME praised the songs' auras of mystery, and concluded, "R.E.M. ring true, and it's great to hear something as unforced and cunning as this."Grabel, Richard. "Nightmare Town". NME. December 11, 1982.
I.R.S. first paired R.E.M. with producer Stephen Hague to record its debut album. Hague's emphasis on technical perfection left the band unsatisfied, and the band members asked the label to let them record with Easter.Buckley, p. 72 I.R.S. agreed to a "tryout" session, allowing the band to return to North Carolina and record the song "Pilgrimage" with Easter and producing partner Don Dixon. After hearing the track, I.R.S. permitted the group to record the album with Dixon and Easter.Buckley, p. 78 Because of its bad experience with Hague, the band recorded the album via a process of negation, refusing to incorporate rock music clichés such as guitar solos or then-popular synthesizers, in order to give its music a timeless feel.Buckley, p. 78–82 The completed album, Murmur, was greeted with critical acclaim upon its release in 1983, with Rolling Stone listing the album as its record of the year.Buckley, p. 73 The album reached number 36 on the Billboard album chart.Buckley, p. 357–58 A re-recorded version of "Radio Free Europe" was the album's lead single and reached number 78 on the Billboard singles chart in 1983. Despite the acclaim awarded the album, Murmur sold only about 200,000 copies, which I.R.S.'s Jay Boberg felt was below expectations.Buckley, p. 95
R.E.M. made its first national television appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in October 1983,Gray, p. 432 during which the group performed a new, unnamed song.Gray, p. 434 The piece, eventually titled "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)", became the first single from the band's second album, Reckoning (1984), which was also recorded with Easter and Dixon. The album met with critical acclaim; NMEs Mat Snow wrote that Reckoning "confirms R.E.M. as one of the most beautifully exciting groups on the planet".Snow, Mat. "American Paradise Regained: R.E.M.'s Reckoning". NME. 1984. While Reckoning peaked at number 27 on the US album charts—an unusually high chart placing for a college rock band at the time—scant airplay and poor distribution overseas resulted in it charting no higher than number 91 in Britain.Buckley, p. 115
R.E.M., Belgium, 1985.jpgthumb250pxalt=A black-and-white photograph of Michael Stipe and Peter Buck performing on stage with spotlights on them. Stipe is to the left singing into a microphone, wearing a three-piece suit, he has bleach-blond hair and is obscuring Mike Mills, whose bass guitar is visible from behind him. Peter Buck is playing guitar and wearing a button-up pattern shirt behind Stipe to the photograph's right with a sneer on his face.Michael Stipe (left) and Peter Buck (right) on stage in Ghent, Belgium, during R.E.M.'s 1985 tour.The band's third album, Fables of the Reconstruction (1985), demonstrated a change in direction. Instead of Dixon and Easter, R.E.M. chose producer Joe Boyd, who had worked with Fairport Convention and Nick Drake, to record the album in England. The band members found the sessions unexpectedly difficult, and were miserable due to the cold winter weather and poor food;Buckley, p. 131–32 the situation brought the band to the verge of break-up.Buckley, p. 135 The gloominess surrounding the sessions ended up providing the context for the album itself. Lyrically, Stipe began to create storylines in the mode of Southern mythology, noting in a 1985 interview that he was inspired by "the whole idea of the old men sitting around the fire, passing on ... legends and fables to the grandchildren"."Interview with R.E.M.". Melody Maker. June 15, 1985. Fables of the Reconstruction became the highest-selling record released by I.R.S. in America at that point. However, the album performed poorly in Europe and its critical reception was mixed, with some critics regarding it as dreary and poorly recorded.Buckley, p. 140 As with the previous records, the singles from Fables of the Reconstruction were mostly ignored by mainstream radio. Meanwhile, I.R.S. was becoming frustrated with the band's reluctance to achieve mainstream success.Buckley, p. 159
For its fourth album, R.E.M. enlisted John Mellencamp producer Don Gehman. The result, Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) featured Stipe's vocals closer to the forefront of the music. In a 1986 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Peter Buck related, "Michael is getting better at what he's doing, and he's getting more confident at it. And I think that shows up in the projection of his voice."Popson, Tom. "Onward and Upward and Please Yourself". Chicago Tribune. October 17, 1986. The album improved markedly upon the sales of Fables of the Reconstruction and eventually peaked at number 21 on the Billboard album chart. The single "Fall on Me" also picked up support on commercial radio.Buckley, p. 151 The album was the band's first to be certified gold for selling 500,000 copies.Fletcher, p. 142 While American college radio remained R.E.M.'s core support, the band was beginning to chart hits on mainstream rock formats; however, the music still encountered resistance from Top 40 radio.Buckley, p. 160 Following the success of Lifes Rich Pageant, I.R.S. issued Dead Letter Office, a compilation of tracks recorded by the band during their album sessions, many of which had either been issued as B-sides or left unreleased altogether. Shortly thereafter, I.R.S. compiled R.E.M.'s music video catalog (except "Wolves, Lower") as the band's first video release, Succumbs.
Breakthrough success: 1987–1993
Don Gehman was unable to produce R.E.M.'s fifth album, so he suggested the group work with Scott Litt.Fletcher, p. 146 Litt would be the producer for the band's next five albums. Document (1987) featured some of Stipe's most openly political lyrics, particularly on "Welcome To the Occupation" and "Exhuming McCarthy", which were reactions to the conservative political environment of the 1980s under American President Ronald Reagan.De Muir, Harold. "There's No Reason It Shouldn't Be A Hit". East Coast Rocker. July 10, 1987. Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in his review of the album, "'Document' is both confident and defiant; if R.E.M. is about to move from cult-band status to mass popularity, the album decrees that the band will get there on its own terms." Document was R.E.M.'s breakthrough album, and the first single "The One I Love" charted in the Top 20 in the US, UK, and Canada. By January 1988, Document had become the group's first album to sell a million copies.Fletcher, p. 157 In light of the band's breakthrough, the December 1987 cover of Rolling Stone declared R.E.M. "America's Best Rock & Roll Band".Buckley, p. 163
Frustrated that its records did not see satisfactory overseas distribution, R.E.M. left I.R.S. when its contract expired and signed with the major label Warner Bros. Records.Buckley, p. 174 In 1988, I.R.S. released the compilation Eponymous, which included most of the band's singles and a number of rarities. The band's 1988 Warner Bros. debut, Green, was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and showcased the group experimenting with its sound.Buckley, p. 179 The record's tracks ranged from the upbeat first single "Stand" (a hit in the United States),Buckley, p. 180 to more political material, like the rock-oriented "Orange Crush" and "World Leader Pretend", which address the Vietnam War and the Cold War, respectively.Buckley, p. 183 Green has gone on to sell four million copies worldwide.Fletcher, p. 296 The band supported the album with its biggest and most visually developed tour to date, featuring back-projections and art films playing on the stage.Buckley, p. 184 After the Green tour, the band members unofficially decided to take the following year off, the first extended break in the band's career.Buckley, p. 198
R.E.M. reconvened in mid-1990 to record its seventh album, Out of Time. In a departure from Green, the band members often wrote the music with non-traditional rock instrumentation including mandolin, organ, and acoustic guitar instead of adding them as overdubs later in the creative process.Buckley, p. 209 Released in March 1991, Out of Time was the band's first album to top both the US and UK charts. The record eventually sold 4.2 million copies in the US alone,Buckley, p. 287 and about 12 million copies worldwide by 1996. The album's lead single "Losing My Religion" was a worldwide hit that received heavy rotation on radio, as did the music video on MTV.Buckley, p. 205 "Losing My Religion" was R.E.M.'s highest-charting single in the US, reaching number four on the Billboard charts. "There've been very few life-changing events in our career because our career has been so gradual," Mills said years later. "If you want to talk about life changing, I think 'Losing My Religion' is the closest it gets".Buckley, p. 204 The album's second single. "Shiny Happy People" (one of three songs on the record to feature vocals from Kate Pierson of fellow Athens band The B-52's), was also a major hit, reaching number 10 in the US and number six in the UK. Out of Time garnered R.E.M. seven nominations at the 1992 Grammy Awards, the most nominations of any artist that year. The band won three awards: one for Best Alternative Music Album and two for "Losing My Religion", Best Short Form Music Video and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. R.E.M. did not tour to promote Out of Time; instead the group played a series of one-off shows, including an appearance taped for an episode of MTV Unplugged.Buckley, p. 213
After spending some months off, R.E.M. returned to the studio in 1991 to record its next album. Late in 1992, the band released Automatic for the People. Though the group had intended to make a harder-rocking album after the softer textures of Out of Time,Buckley, p. 216 the somber Automatic for the People " to move at an even more agonized crawl", according to Melody Maker.Fricke, David. "Living Up to Out of Time/Remote Control: Parts I and II". Melody Maker. October 3, 1992. The album dealt with themes of loss and mourning inspired by "that sense of ... turning thirty", according to Buck.Buckley, p. 218 Several songs featured string arrangements by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. Considered by a number of critics (as well as by Buck and Mills) to be the band's best album,Buckley, p. 217 Automatic for the People reached numbers one and two on UK and US charts, respectively, and generated the American Top 40 hit singles "Drive", "Man on the Moon", and "Everybody Hurts". The album would sell about ten million copies worldwide. As with Out of Time, there was no tour in support of the album. The decision to forgo a tour, in conjunction with Stipe's physical appearance, generated rumors that the singer was dying, which were vehemently denied by the band.
Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi: 1994–1996
After the band released two slow-paced albums in a row, R.E.M.'s 1994 album Monster was, as Buck said, "a 'rock' record, with the rock in quotation marks." In contrast to the sound of its predecessors, the music of Monster consisted of distorted guitar tones, minimal overdubs, and touches of 1970s glam rock.Buckley, p. 236 Like Out of Time, Monster topped the charts in both the US and UK. The record sold about nine million copies worldwide. The singles "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and "Bang and Blame" were the band's last American Top 40 hits, although all the singles from Monster reached the Top 30 on the British charts.
In January 1995 R.E.M. set out on its first tour in six years. The tour was a huge commercial success, but the period was difficult for the group.Buckley, p. 248 On March 1, Berry collapsed on stage during a performance in Lausanne, Switzerland, having suffered a brain aneurysm. He had surgery immediately and recovered fully within a month. Berry's aneurysm was only the beginning of a series of health problems that plagued the Monster Tour. Mills had to undergo abdominal surgery to remove an intestinal adhesion in July; a month later, Stipe had to have an emergency surgery to repair a hernia.Buckley, p. 251–55 Despite all the problems, the group had recorded the bulk of a new album while on the road. The band brought along eight-track recorders to capture its shows, and used the recordings as the base elements for the album.Buckley, p. 256
R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1996 for a reported $80 million, the largest recording contract in history at that point.Buckley, p. 258 The group's 1996 album New Adventures in Hi-Fi debuted at number two in the US and number one in the UK. The five million copies of the album sold were a reversal of the group's commercial fortunes of the previous five years.Buckley, p. 269 Time writer Christopher John Farley argued that the lesser sales of the album were due to the declining commercial power of alternative rock as a whole. That same year, R.E.M. parted ways with manager Jefferson Holt, allegedly due to sexual harassment charges levied against him by a member of the band's home office in Athens. The group's lawyer, Bertis Downs, assumed managerial duties.
Berry's departure and Up: 1997–2000
Michael Stipe at Glastonbury.jpgthumbleft180pxalt=A middle-aged Caucasian male with a shaved head sings into a microphone while standing on some monitors. He is wearing a light blue button-up shirt with dark blue and white sweat pants and light blue makeup outlining his eyes. Behind him is a light display making the outline of a lotus flower.Stipe at the 1999 Glastonbury Festival.
In April 1997, the band convened at Buck's Kauai holiday home to record demos of material intended for the next album. The band sought to reinvent its sound and intended to incorporate drum loops and percussion experiments.Longino, Miriam. "R.E.M.: To a different beat the famed Athens band becomes a threesome as drummer Bill Berry leaves to 'sit back and reflect'". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. October 31, 1997. Just as the sessions were due to begin in October, Berry decided, after months of contemplation and discussions with Downs and Mills, to tell the rest of the band that he was quitting.Buckley, p. 276 Berry told his band mates that he would not quit if they would break up as a result, so Stipe, Mills, and Buck agreed to carry on as a three-piece with his blessing.Buckley, p. 280 Berry publicly announced his departure three weeks later in October 1997. Berry told the press, "I'm just not as enthusiastic as I have been in the past about doing this anymore . . . I have the best job in the world. But I'm kind of ready to sit back and reflect and maybe not be a pop star anymore." Stipe admitted that the band would be different without a major contributor: "For me, Mike, and Peter, as R.E.M., are we still R.E.M.? I guess a three-legged dog is still a dog. It just has to learn to run differently."
The band canceled its scheduled recording sessions as a result of Berry's departure. "Without Bill it was different, confusing", Mills later said. "We didn't know exactly what to do. We couldn't rehearse without a drummer."Black, p. 232 The remaining members of R.E.M. resumed work on the album in February 1998 at Toast Studios in San Francisco.Black, p. 233 The band ended its decade-long collaboration with Scott Litt and hired Pat McCarthy to produce the record. Nigel Godrich was taken on as assistant producer, and drafted in ex-Screaming Trees member Barrett Martin and Beck's touring drummer Joey Waronker. The recording process was plagued with tension, and the group came close to disbanding. Bertis Downs called an emergency meeting where the band members sorted out their problems and agreed to continue as a group.Buckley, p. 286 Led off by the single "Daysleeper", Up (1998) debuted in the top ten in the US and UK. However, the album was a relative failure, selling 900,000 copies in the US by mid-1999 and eventually selling just over two million copies worldwide. While R.E.M.'s American sales were declining, the group's commercial base was shifting to the UK, where more R.E.M. records were sold per capita than any other country and the band's singles regularly entered the Top 20.Buckley, p. 292
A year after Ups release, R.E.M. wrote the instrumental score to the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon, a first for the group. The film took its title from the Automatic for the People song of the same name. The song "The Great Beyond" was released as a single from the Man on the Moon soundtrack album. "The Great Beyond" only reached number 57 on the American pop charts, but was the band's highest-charting single ever in the UK, reaching number three in 2000.
Reveal and Around the Sun: 2001–2005
R.E.M. recorded the majority of its twelfth album Reveal (2001) in Canada and Ireland from May to October 2000.Black, p. 248–49 Reveal shared the "lugubrious pace" of Up,Buckley, p. 303 and featured drumming by Joey Waronker, as well as contributions by Scott McCaughey (a co-founder of the band The Minus 5 with Buck) and Posies founder Ken Stringfellow. Global sales of the album were over four million, but in the United States Reveal sold about the same number of copies as Up.Buckley, p. 310 The album was led by the single "Imitation of Life," which reached number six in the UK.Buckley, p. 305 Writing for Rock's Backpages, The Rev. Al Friston described the album as "loaded with golden loveliness at every twist and turn", in comparison to the group's "essentially unconvincing work on New Adventures in Hi-Fi and Up."Friston, The Rev. Al. "REM: Reveal (Warner Bros.)". Rock's Backpages. December 2001. Similarly, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone called Reveal "a spiritual renewal rooted in a musical one" and praised its "ceaselessly astonishing beauty."
In 2003, Warner Bros. released the compilation album In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003, which featured two new songs, "Bad Day" and "Animal". That same year Berry made a surprise appearance during an R.E.M. concert in Raleigh, North Carolina, performing backing vocals on "Radio Free Europe". He then sat behind the drum kit for a performance of the early R.E.M. song "Permanent Vacation", marking his first performance with the band since his retirement.
R.E.M. released Around the Sun in 2004. During production of the album in 2002, Stipe said, " sounds like it's taking off from the last couple of records into unchartered R.E.M. territory. Kind of primitive and howling". After the album's release, Mills said, "I think, honestly, it turned out a little slower than we intended for it to, just in terms of the overall speed of songs." Around the Sun received a mixed critical reception, and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard charts. The first single from the album, "Leaving New York", was a Top 5 hit in the UK. For the record and subsequent tour, the band hired a new full-time touring drummer, Bill Rieflin, who had previously been a member of Ministry. In late 2004 R.E.M. toured with Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Pearl Jam, Bright Eyes and others on the Vote for Change tour. Throughout 2005, the band embarked on its first full-length world tour since the Monster Tour ten years earlier. During the tour, R.E.M. participated in the London event of Live 8.
Accelerate and Collapse into Now: 2006–present
EMI, which owns the I.R.S. catalogue, released a compilation album covering R.E.M.'s work during its tenure on the label in 2006 called And I Feel Fine... The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987. The DVD When the Light Is Mine: The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 was released simultaneously. That same month, all four original band members performed during the ceremony for their induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. While rehearsing for the ceremony, the band recorded a cover of John Lennon's "#9 Dream" for Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, a tribute album benefiting Amnesty International. The song—released as a single for the album and the campaign—featured Bill Berry's first studio recording with the band since his departure almost a decade earlier. In October 2006, R.E.M. was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its first year of eligibility. The band was one of five nominees accepted into the Hall that year, and the induction ceremony took place in March 2007 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The group—which was inducted by Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder—performed four songs with Bill Berry.
Work on the group's fourteenth album commenced in early 2007. The band recorded with producer Jacknife Lee in Vancouver and Dublin, where it played five nights in the Olympia Theatre between June 30 and July 5 as part of a "working rehearsal". R.E.M. Live, the band's first live album (featuring songs from a 2005 Dublin show), was released in October 2007. The group followed this effort with the 2009 live album Live at The Olympia. R.E.M. released Accelerate in early 2008. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard charts, and became the band's eighth album to top the British album charts. Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke considered Accelerate an improvement over the band's previous post-Berry albums, calling it "one of the best records R.E.M. have ever made."
In 2010, R.E.M. released the video album R.E.M. Live from Austin, TX—a concert recorded for Austin City Limits in 2008. The group recorded its fifteenth album, Collapse into Now (2011), with Jacknife Lee in locales including Berlin, Nashville, and New Orleans. For the album, the band aimed for a more expansive sound than the intentionally short and speedy approach implemented on Accelerate.
In a 1988 interview, Peter Buck described typical R.E.M. songs as, "Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish things. That's what everyone thinks and to a certain degree, that's true."Halbersberg, Elianna. "Peter Buck of R.E.M.". East Coast Rocker. November 30, 1988. All songwriting is credited to the entire band, even though individual members are sometimes responsible for writing the majority of a particular song.The Notorious Stuart Brothers. "A Date With Peter Buck". Bucketfull of Brains. December 1987. Each member is given an equal vote in the songwriting process; however, Buck has conceded that Stipe, as the band's lyricist, can rarely be persuaded to follow an idea he does not favor. Among the original line-up, there were divisions of labor in the songwriting process: Stipe would write lyrics and devise melodies, Buck would edge the band in new musical directions, and Mills and Berry would fine-tune the compositions due to their greater musical experience.Buckley, p. 85
Michael Stipe sings in what R.E.M. biographer David Buckley described as "wailing, keening, arching vocal figures".Buckley, p. 87 Stipe often harmonizes with Mills in songs; in the chorus for "Stand," Mills and Stipe alternate singing lyrics, creating a dialogue.Buckley, p. 180–81 Early articles about the band focused on Stipe's singing style (described as "mumbling" by The Washington Post), which often rendered his lyrics indecipherable.Sasfy, Joe. "Reckoning with R.E.M.". The Washington Post. May 10, 1984. Creem writer John Morthland wrote in his review of Murmur, "I still have no idea what these songs are about, because neither me nor anyone else I know has ever been able to discern R.E.M.'s lyrics."Morthland, John. "R.E.M.: Murmur". Creem. July 1983. Stipe commented in 1984, "It's just the way I sing. If I tried to control it, it would be pretty false."Platt, John. "R.E.M.". Bucketfull of Brains. December 1984. Producer Joe Boyd convinced Stipe to begin singing more clearly during the recording of Fables of the Reconstruction.Buckley, p. 133
Stipe insisted that many of his early lyrics were "nonsense", saying in a 1994 online chat, "You all know there aren't words, per se, to a lot of the early stuff. I can't even remember them." In truth, Stipe carefully crafted the lyrics to many early R.E.M. songs.Buckley, p. 88 Stipe explained in 1984 that when he started writing lyrics they were like "simple pictures", but after a year he grew tired of the approach and "started experimenting with lyrics that didn't make exact linear sense, and it's just gone from there." In the mid-1980s, as Stipe's pronunciation while singing became clearer, the band decided that its lyrics should convey ideas on a more literal level.Buckley, p. 143 Mills explained, "After you've made three records and you've written several songs and they've gotten better and better lyrically the next step would be to have somebody question you and say, are you saying anything? And Michael had the confidence at that point to say yes . . ."Buckley, p. 150 Songs like "Cuyahoga" and "Fall on Me" on Lifes Rich Pageant dealt with such concerns as pollution.Buckley, p. 156–57 Stipe incorporated more politically-oriented concerns into his lyrics on Document and Green. "Our political activism and the content of the songs was just a reaction to where we were, and what we were surrounded by, which was just abject horror," Stipe said later. "In 1987 and '88 there was nothing to do but be active."Olliffe, Michael. "R.E.M. in Perth". On the Street. January 17, 1995. Stipe has since explored other lyrical topics. Automatic for the People dealt with "mortality and dying. Pretty turgid stuff", according to Stipe,Cavanagh, David. "Tune in, cheer up, rock out". Q. October 1994. while Monster critiqued love and mass culture.
Peter Buck's style of playing guitar has been singled out by many as the most distinctive aspect of R.E.M.'s music. During the 1980s, Buck's "economical, arpeggiated, poetic" style reminded British music journalists of 1960s American folk rock band The Byrds.Buckley, p. 77 Buck has stated " Roger McGuinn was a big influence on me as a guitar player",Buckley, p. 81 but said it was Byrds-influenced bands, including Big Star and The Soft Boys, that inspired him more.Fletcher, p. 115 Comparisons were also made with the guitar playing of Johnny Marr of alternative rock contemporaries The Smiths. While Buck professed being a fan of the group, he admitted he initially criticized the band simply because he was tired of fans asking him if he was influenced by Marr, whose band had in fact made their debut several years after R.E.M. Buck generally eschews guitar solos; he explained in 2002, "I know that when guitarists rip into this hot solo, people go nuts, but I don't write songs that suit that, and I am not interested in that. I can do it if I have to, but I don't like it."Buckley, p. 80 Mike Mills' melodic approach to bass playing is inspired by Paul McCartney of The Beatles and Chris Squire of Yes; Mills has said, "I always played a melodic bass, like a piano bass in some ways . . . I never wanted to play the traditional locked into the kick drum, root note bass work."Buckley, p. 105 Mills has more musical training than his band mates, which he has said "made it easier to turn abstract musical ideas into reality."
R.E.M. was pivotal in the creation and development of the alternative rock genre. Allmusic stated, "R.E.M. mark the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock." In the early 1980s, the alternative rock of R.E.M. stood in contrast to the post-punk and New Wave genres that had preceded it. Music journalist Simon Reynolds noted that the post-punk movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s "had taken whole swaths of music off the menu", particularly that of the 1960s, and that "After postpunk's demystification and New Pop's schematics, it felt liberating to listen to music rooted in mystical awe and blissed-out surrender." Reynolds declared R.E.M., a band that recalled the music of the 1960s with its "plangent guitar chimes and folk-styled vocals" and who "wistfully and abstractly conjured visions and new frontiers for America", one of "the two most important alt-rock bands of the day."Reynolds, Simon. Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin, 2005. ISBN 0-14-303672-6, p. 392 With the release of Murmur, R.E.M. had the most impact musically and commercially of the developing alternative genre's early groups, leaving in its wake a number of jangle pop followers.
R.E.M.'s early breakthrough success served as an inspiration for other alternative bands. Spin referred to the "R.E.M. model"—career decisions that R.E.M. made which set guidelines for other underground artists to follow in their own careers. Spin's Charles Aaron wrote that by 1985, "They'd shown how far an underground, punk-inspired rock band could go within the industry without whoring out its artistic integrity in any obvious way. They'd figured out how to buy in, not sellout-in other words, they'd achieved the American Bohemian Dream."Aaron, Charles. "The R.E.M. method and other rites of passage". Spin: 20 Years of Alternative Music. Three Rivers Press, 2005. ISBN 0-307-23662-5, p. 18 Steve Wynn of Dream Syndicate said, "They invented a whole new ballgame for all of the other bands to follow whether it was Sonic Youth or the Replacements or Nirvana or Butthole Surfers. R.E.M. staked the claim. Musically, the bands did different things, but R.E.M. was first to show us you can be big and still be cool."Sullivan, p. 169 Biographer David Buckley stated that between 1991 and 1994, a period that saw the band sell an estimated 30 million albums, R.E.M. "asserted themselves as rivals to U2 for the title of biggest rock band in the world."Buckley, p. 200
Later alternative bands such as Nirvana, Pavement, and Live have drawn inspiration from R.E.M.'s music. "When I was 15 years old in Richmond, Virginia, they were a very important part of my life," Pavement's Bob Nastanovich said, "as they were for all the members of our band." Pavement devoted the song "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" from the No Alternative compilation (1993) to discussing R.E.M's first two albums at length.Aaron, Charles. "R.E.M. Comes Alive". Spin. August 1995. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was a vocal fan of R.E.M., and had plans to collaborate on a musical project with Stipe before his death in April 1994.Buckley, p. 239–40 Cobain told Rolling Stone in an interview earlier that year, "I don’t know how that band does what they do. God, they’re the greatest. They’ve dealt with their success like saints, and they keep delivering great music."Fricke, David. "Kurt Cobain: The Rolling Stone Interview." Rolling Stone. January 27, 1994
Campaigning and activism
#0|18995492|Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice
Peter Kay's Britain's Got the Pop Factor... and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice is a British television comedy show created, written, directed, starred in and produced by comedian Peter Kay. The two-hour show was aired in two parts on Channel 4 on 12 October 2008.
The title and general format of the show is a parody of talent search-based reality television shows. The title of the show is an amalgam of other talent-search reality shows, as well as a stage show (representing the show-within-a-show mentioned below); in order - Britain's Got Talent, Pop Idol, The X Factor, celebrity variants of pre-existing shows, Jesus Christ Superstar, Soapstar Superstar, Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing on Ice.
As well as being the title of the show, Britain's Got the Pop Factor is the title of the fictional series within the show, where Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice is the name of another fictional talent show, to which the winner of Britain's Got The Pop Factor gains automatic entry.
After the end credits, the show advertised its "sequel", which would show the next year: Celebrity Fiddler on the Roof In the Jungle, an amalgam of British reality show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and the famous Jewish play Fiddler on the Roof.
It was the first show Kay had produced on the channel for four years, and was described by Channel 4 as the 'comedy forefront of the autumn schedule, which begin a year-long season of programmes'. The show was rerun in its entirety on 14 December 2008.
The programme was shown in the style of a live final talent show hosted by Cat Deeley and judged by Nicki Chapman, Pete Waterman and Neil Fox (this being the original Pop Idol panel, minus Simon Cowell; Chapman and Waterman were also panelists for ITV's Popstars and Popstars: The Rivals respectively. Pete Waterman decided to be one of the judges to get his own back at Simon Cowell).
Peter Kay appeared as solo artist Geraldine McQueen, a contestant. Jo Enright, Karl Lucas, David Hulston and Sian Foulkes performed as a band 2 Up 2 Down in which the two women were wheelchair users, and Marc Pickering played R Wayne: another solo artist. This mirrors the 3 categories in to which The X Factor originally split its entrants.
The two hour final exhibited various acts that did not make the final, and the three finalists' journeys on the show. It revealed their sob stories and the fact that sob stories were the driving force behind which contestants got through to the final. Geraldine McQueen had gone through gender reassignment surgery after being a male piano player on one of the Irish ferries and 2 Up 2 Down have had a multitude of bad experiences. R Wayne was originally eliminated at bootcamp for not having a good enough sob story but was brought back into the show after his grandmother (R Gran) died from a heart attack on hearing news of his elimination.
Later on in the show, a notable character from the first series of Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, Psychic Clinton Baptiste, revealed that R Gran was attending a pub quiz in heaven with Thora Hird and Heath Ledger.
The three finalists each performed a live medley (performed in a serious manner, with the insensitivity of the song selections providing the humour). At this point, R Wayne is eliminated and the final two acts then perform their own rendition of "The Winner's Song".
The winner of the show was Geraldine. She collapsed on stage during the last lines of her version of "The Winner's Song" from choking on a piece of glitter confetti. R Wayne, not noticing, ended up being the only person actually singing these last lines. After somebody asked for a doctor, "Dr." Neil Fox jumped on stage and attempted to revive her.
The following day Kay, in character as Geraldine, was a guest on The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 and revealed that Neil Fox revived her, and she was recovering in an unknown (to her) hospital. She also appeared on Danny Baker's afternoon radio show on BBC London 3 days later where she was still in hospital recovering and she was hoping to get a visit from Pete Waterman. She was also interviewed on Wave 105's breakfast show on the following Friday, where she revealed that she was staying at Guy Ritchie's flat. This interview can still be heard .
A follow-up programme, along the lines of the "winner's story" documentaries often produced for real-life talent reality shows, was broadcast on Channel 4 on 19 December 2008. Titled Peter Kay's Britain's Got an Extra Pop Factor and Then Some 2 + 1, the programme was hosted by Ben Shephard who, like Cat Deeley, was formerly closely associated with this type of programme.
R Wayne sang a medley of "Return to Innocence" by Enigma, "Love Train" by The O'Jays, "Earth Song" by Michael Jackson, "YMCA" by The Village People and "There's No-one Quite Like Grandma" by the St Winifred's School Choir.
2 Up 2 Down sang a medley of "We Built This City" by Starship, "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child, "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton, "Holding Out For A Hero" by Bonnie Tyler and "Hero" by Mariah Carey.
Geraldine sang a medley of "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen, the theme to Born Free (perhaps best known as Matt Monro's version), "Free Nelson Mandela" by The Special AKA, "Umbrella" by Rihanna, "C'est la Vie" by B*Witched and "Milkshake" by Kelis.
Both 2 Up 2 Down and Geraldine sang versions of the "Winner's Song", which was co-written by show's maker Peter Kay and Take That star, Gary Barlow
*Peter Kay as Geraldine McQueen
*Cat Deeley as herself
*Nicki Chapman as herself
*Neil Fox as himself
*Pete Waterman as himself
*Marc Pickering as R Wayne
*2 Up 2 Down
:Jo Enright as Jackie
:Karl Lucas as Richard
:Sian Foulkes as Wendy
:David Hulston as Graham
*Conleth Hill as Geraldine's Mum
*Alex Lowe as Clinton Baptiste
*Judith Alexander as R Mam
*Gordon Isaccs as Bouncer #1
*Dean Feasby as Bouncer #2
*Voiceover Peter Dickson
The show featured cameo appearances from:
*Rick Astley singing on stage with 2 Up, 2 Down
*Lionel Blair as Dance Mentor
*Todd Carty as 'Jesus H Christ'
*The Cheeky Girls as Mentors
*Louis Emerick as 'Joseph'
*Rustie Lee as Neil Fox's assistant
*Sally Lindsay as 'Mary'
*Sir Paul McCartney as Mentor
*Andi Peters reporting from CD pressing plant
*Ricky Wilson (of the Kaiser Chiefs)
Cast of auditionees
*Pearce Quigley as Dog Trainer
*Smug Roberts as Angry Husband
*Tim Whitnall as Auditionee with Eyepatch
*Gemma Louise Carter as Bruschetta
*Steve Royale as Baby Juggler
*Jordan Smith as boy who jumps on Cat Deely
Geraldine McQueen is the fictional singer-songwriter from Britain's Got The Pop Factor... played by British comedian Peter Kay as a parody of the generic talent show winner.
She grew up as a male named Gerry King. As an adult, Gerry became a piano player on one of the Northern Irish ferries. Always believing that she was in the wrong body, Geraldine underwent a painful gender reassignment surgery in Bangkok, under the watchful eyes of Dr Fungmewow claiming, "he certainly knew his onions..." Her home life was poor though, as after her mother found a young Gerry cross-dressing, she stated that she didn't want anything to do with her son, saying "she is no son of mine!" However, during the final of Britain's Got The Pop Factor... Geraldine's mother battled with her terminal HIV and inner-dislike for her child and came over to support her. Geraldine's father died when she was younger. The character was killed off in a special Christmas radio broadcast on 96.2 The Revolution, in 2008.
The single "The Winner's Song" was written by Peter Kay and Gary Barlow and was released on iTunes and in stores on 13 October 2008. On 19 October 2008, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at #2.
The follow-up single "Once Upon a Christmas Song" was released on 15 December 2008 in stores and became available to download on 14 December. This was a charity single and all proceeds were donated to the NSPCC (this followed criticism that The Winner's Song was a profit making single).
When her Christmas single, "Once Upon a Christmas Song" was released Geraldine made an appearance on GMTV to promote it, claiming it was a serious contender for the Christmas number 1 single.
After the release of "The Winner's Song", Geraldine made appearances on Take That Comes To Town. She was then seen performing it on The Royal Variety Performance (doing a medley which included "The Winner's Song" and "Once Upon a Christmas Song"), and The Paul O'Grady Show. In December 2010 Geraldine phoned in to This Morning to talk to Eamonn Holmes.
ReferencesThis text has been derived from R.E.M. on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0