R.E.M. Listening Club


It is underappreciated i think. This is probably because it doesn’t have any of their famous singles on it. Even ‘Up’ has ‘Daysleeper’ and ‘At My Most Beautiful’ on it and ‘Reveal’ has ‘Imitation of Life’ on it. I think they average man on the street would struggle to hum ‘E-Bow The Letter’.


I thought E-Bow was a great choice! It always amused me that they put out all these big silly pop songs over the years and after all that the most uncommercial single imaginable winds up being their highest charting (apart from Great Beyond which probably doesn’t count). It’s seems like a very R.E.M. way to go about things!

I’m good with the album length too – it’s an album that feels to me like it has room to breathe, and one that I like to zone out to. I guess this is in part down to coming together on the road and in soundchecks etc. Not listened back yet this week, but will hopefully this evening.

WB clearly screwed up though didn’t they with that massive contract – they bought at the peak of the bubble and I can’t imagine they recouped anywhere near their outlay over the subsequent records…


I seem to remember that the contract was heavily skewed towards the band - for example, they could release what singles they wanted and they decided if they wanted to tour etc.


I think you’re right. There was such a scramble for the contract that I imagine the band were pretty much able to dictate their own terms. I don’t think they even toured some of the later records? I’m sure WB lived to regret that.


They initially decided not to tour for ‘Up’, however, they did eventually do a 6 month tour for it in 1999. They only did a few shows for ‘Reveal’, however, they did tour for ‘In Time’ and extensively toured for ‘Around The Sun’. They toured again for ‘Accelerate’, however, there was no tour for ‘Collapse Into Now’. All in all, they did do a lot of gigs throughout the 00s.



‘Nobody died, but there was the incident with the pigeon’
Haha watched this last night :rofl:


In 1999…no one toured
In 2000…no one toured
In 2001… some one toured
In 2002 there was the incident with the yoghurt…
In 2003 no one toured…
I mean, I could go on…


What I find interesting about HiFi is that I mostly listened to it as a tape, so I had very different feelings about its two sides back then to what I do now. It was also the first REM album I bought when it came out, rather than retrospectively.

At the time, I was obsessed with it and only really listened to Leave, Ebow and Electrolite on repeat. I love far more than that now, though I don’t think in its totality it’s a brilliant record.

I think it may have been recorded on the road? I think of it that way for sure, as the sleeve unfurled to be a giant panoramic photo of the desert and many of the tracks work perfectly in a car or on a train journey.

Always found Monster and this interesting as they seem to represent the band trying to move away from singles and pop songs, and experiment with production, rock and lo-fi traits, as well as touring and hanging out with bands that’d take up their mantle and become the next decades hot things.


It was indeed recorded (mostly) on the road. Songs like ‘The Wake Up Bomb’, ‘Undertow’. ‘Departure’ & ‘Binky The Doormat’ were recorded during soundchecks, which gives them quite a rough feel.


Right back into to this now we are into January (missed a few albums over Christmas as just didn’t have the time but didn’t really have much more to add than has already been said further up in the thread).

I remember picking up New Adventures and initially not really linking it (I think the length of the album initially put me off along with the fact I was really into Automatic and was hoping for more of that) but over the years this has grown to be one of my favourite R.E.M. albums and “Be Mine” is easly one of my top 5 songs of theirs.


New Adventures - excellent album.
Could have done with maybe trimming a couple tracks from the run time, not a huge fan of Wake Up Bomb or Low Desert. Given the nature of the recording I guess it was never designed as a cohesive album, which i’m fine with.
E-Bow and Electrolite are easily top 10 REM for me. Binky The Doormat, New Test Leper, Departure and How The West Was Won are all top notch too.
Pretty brave album for them to release at the time, given how huge they were coming off the Monster tour.


I think it’s up there with their best too, and often argue about this with a friend who’s also a big R.E.M. and dismisses it as their dad rock record. I love the sense of movement and travel that it has both explicitly in the lyrics and implicitly in the way it came about. To be honest there aren’t many weak spots for me, and there’s certainly nothing I feel compelled skip.

Enjoyed reading the Oasis theories about Wake Up Bomb which has endeared me to it more.

Closing a long record with a song as good as Electrolite is a great move and keeps the record strong until the end.

I always really liked Low Desert too - which may in part be down to Stipe picking it for dissection in the REM Q Special. I’ll try and upload that later.


I also like ‘Low Desert’…i always associate it with the picture on the album cover. I remember the discussion about it in the Q Special. He said it was a “moment of death” song.


i don’t think it’s even a choice to end with Electrolite - it’s the most closing tracky-song i’ve ever heard.
by which to say a perfect closer.


Here you go, Stipe’s take on Low Desert:


always liked Low Desert, it always felt like the song on the album that the cover art evoked most. Also now the weird naked Indian thing in Wayne’s World 2 makes so much more sense.


Yes definitely - you get a real sense of big wide frontiers and open expanses with this song. I’ve always listened to it with that explanation in mind, why may be why I like the song so much.

I like how Stipe brushes off any allusions to Jim Morrison’s Derek Acorah-esque pseudo spiritual bullshit in that Q piece too.




I love New Adventures and giving it a few listens this past week hasn’t changed that. I always had it as a tie with Murmur for my favourite REM album. I couldn’t separate them and often it just depended on what kind of mood I was in, they’re from such different periods of their career.

It’s an incredibly strong record. 14 tracks, 1hr 5 mins, but barely any fat at all. If I was to pick my least favourites it would probably be Binky and Bittersweet Me, but Really they’re not bad at all. The album needs Bittersweet Me I think, it’s probably the catchiest song on there and had to be a single, but it seems a bit straight forward and formulaic for them I think.

It’s tricky, for such a strong album there really aren’t any obvious singles, very few songs you’d stick in a top 10 for REM. Ebow is to me clearly the best on here, and easily one of their best, but it’s so uncommercial I’m not surprised it dulled expectations with the general public. Even 15 yr old me didn’t know what to make of it at the time. Along with Ebow I think Leave, Be Mine and Electrolite are all top drawer REM.

So while it’s it’s my joint favourite, I think it’s hard to argue objectively for it being their best, due to it’s lack of obvious big hits. Is that fair?