Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Music Box: R.E.M.

R.E.M. on "Today," yesterday

It's been a busy music-buying week around here. I got the first three Goldfrapp albums finally (I got a review copy of their new one and fell in love). On Taffy's recommendation I ordered the complete Primitives catalog, with "Lovely" arriving after I picked up their "Buzz, Buzz, Buzz: The Complete Lazy Recordings" (something I'm told I should delve into after I've learned the main releases). Then the re-issues of Kirsty MacColl's first three albums started showing up ("Kite" and "Electric Landlady" are here -- the two-disc "Titanic Days" is due any day now -- more about her next week).

Which brings us to yesterday, when I stopped at Best Buy and picked up the new R.E.M. album, "Accelerate." I've never been an obsessive fan of theirs (that distinction had already been earned by my two older brothers, which -- along with Michael Stipe's not being a blond girl -- may have contributed to my more casual approach to the band). But even so, from the beginning I knew "Murmur" and "Reckoning" were something truly special, and I was lucky to see them live twice 1984 and again on the "Lifes Rich Pageant" tour (probably my third favorite album of theirs) -- after which I got to interview Michael Stipe -- and for the last time in 1987. So after picking up the new release I dumped it on my iPod and tried it out on the treadmill. I was instantly into it. It's loud, energetic and a lot of fun. Its 34-minute running time is actually refreshing. Just 11 well-crafted pop-rock songs and not a lot of overproduction. Without even knowing which songs were which, the single -- if there's such a thing anymore -- "Supernatural Superserious" and "Mr. Richards" stood out as my faves so far. (Video clips below.) Everyone's calling this album a comeback of sorts, but unlike most R.E.M. fans I actually loved the post-Bill Berry "Up" and "Reveal" (and like most R.E.M., didn't even know "Around the Sun" came out). If this so-called return to form has done anything it's made me want to see them live again. It's been 21 years and I think I'm long overdue.

"Supernatural Superserious"

"Mr. Richards" (live)

8 July 1984 - Royal Oak Music Theater, Royal Oak, MI
support: Dream Syndicate
set: Pale Blue Eyes / Radio Free Europe / Catapult / Driver 8 / Camera / Sitting Still / Letter Never Sent / Seven Chinese Brothers / Talk About The Passion / So. Central Rain / Hyena / Harborcoat / Gardening At Night / 9-9 / Windout / Old Man Kensey / Pretty Persuasion / Little America
encore: Barney Miller Theme / Second Guessing / We Walk / 1,000,000

8 September 1984 - Palace West, Phoenix, AZ
support: The dB's
set: Gardening At Night / 9-9-Frogmore-Windout / Talk About The Passion / Kohoutek / So. Central Rain / Seven Chinese Brothers / Driver 8 / Letter Never Sent / (Don't Go Back To) Rockville / Pilgrimage / Hyena / Just A Touch / Pretty Persuasion / Old Man Kensey / Radio Free Europe / Little America
encore 1: Ghost Riders In The Sky / Second Guessing / Sitting Still / Femme Fatale / 1,000,000 encore 2: Moon River / We Walk / After Hours / Sweet Home Alabama / Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars) / Skank

23 September 1986 - Mesa Amphitheater, Mesa, AZ
support: Guadalcanal Diary
Set: I know they opened with So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry) and also did "Fall on Me" / "Superman" / "Shaking Through" / "Life and How to Live It" / "Begin the Begin" / (Complete set list unavailable, but my 1986 review can be read here.)

16 November 1987 - Grady Gammage Auditorium, Tempe, AZ
support: The dB's
set: Finest Worksong / These Days / Welcome To The Occupation / Cuyahoga / Disturbance At The Heron House / The Flowers Of Guatemala / Exhuming McCarthy / Orange Crush / Feeling Gravitys Pull / King Of Birds / I Believe / Sitting Still / Driver 8 / Superman / Auctioneer (Another Engine) / Oddfellows Local 151 / It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) / Begin The Begin 
encore: Strange / Wolves, Lower / Pop Song 89

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