Friday, November 8, 2013


R.E.M. made the move to a major label and major keys with the acoustic folk, heavy rock, and diverse pop experiments of this clarified and credulous call to arms.  With the platinum success of 'Document' the band was poised for a breakthrough; but they were not satisfied with the distribution efforts of IRS Records and eventually decided to go with Warner Brothers Records, who assured them creative freedom.  

Peter Buck explained:    "Unfortunately, we had almost nonexistant distribution in Europe with IRS, which is probably the reason we left, because we like the people at IRS. We went to Germany and Green On Red outsells us three to one there. They're really good guys, but they shouldn't be outselling us. We should at least be equal. I get tired of going all the way to Europe and playing for an audience that's only G.I.'s. Hopefully, Warner Brothers will rectify that for us. I want our records to at least be available."

Mike Mills expounded:   "We've reached the point where we're sitting on the razor's edge-the place we never wanted to be.  We try not to look at this as a make-or-break album or tour, but in essence, it probably is because everyone has set it up that way...People are waiting to see if they were right about us (in a series of positive reviews) or if they can throw us to the dogs yet.  We were writing and playing songs to suit our ability. We never had any one style, or were very goal-oriented. We kept playing and things happened." 

Stipe considered:    "My idea of mainstream American culture is pretty tainted. I have a great joy in having been delivered from the mainstream. A great joy in deliverance...I still don't understand technology. How my voice goes in the studio microphone, through a process that ends with that same voice emerging out of something that resembles a place mat. Y'know? I'm not a Luddite. I understand the advances.....Give me a manual typewriter over a word processor, though. I get an objectivity in my writing that comes from the sensation of hitting the keys, you know the '4' on the album sleeve - that's a type, an error I left in. I meant to hit the 'R' and my left index finger hit the '4' instead. I left it in...Intrinsically, I've learned.....erm, for myself and a lot of other people - even if they don't recognise it and, if they do, they don't tend to admit it - that mistakes are often the most creative, no, inspired, part of anything I do. To be able to recognise that and enlarge on that. To make those mistakes and deliver whatever it is you're doing - I've been able to succeed with that. My entire style of singing - to cheapen it by calling it that - comes from that base. Not too many people have homed in on that before...If there's a mistake on 'Green' its 'cos I made it. The others have said the same. I don't feel that way about 'Document' though we were pretty 'much in control... 'Pageant' was real outta control. I has a lotta imput but the mix still slipped away. The process was beyond us right up until 'Green'."

'Green' was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN and Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY with Bill Berry on drums and backing vocals, bass guitar on "You Are the Everything", "The Wrong Child", and "Hairshirt"; Peter Buck on guitar, mandolin, and drums on "Eleventh, Untitled Song"; Mike Mills on bass guitar, keyboards, accordion, and backing vocals; and Michael Stipe on vocals;    with Bucky Baxter on pedal steel guitar on "World Leader Pretend"; Keith LeBlanc on percussion on "Turn You Inside-Out"; and Jane Scarpantoni on cello on "World Leader Pretend".  The band produced the album with Scott Litt, who had produced 'Document'.  

Buck     "We were really focused and worked hard to make the record we felt we needed to make. It's a really strong record, which at the same time, isn't like an R.E.M. record. There are no typical R.E.M. songs...Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish things. That's what everyone thinks and to a certain degree, it's true. "Driver 8" and "South Central Rain" epitomize to a lot of people what this band does. Everything on this album is in a major key, essentially, and that changes the tenor of the record. Minors are wistful, sad keys; majors are more aggressive and harsh. We wrote major key rock songs and switched instruments."

Mills    "We didn't want to write traditional R.E.M. songs.  We were all about having fun and trying to do something different...Peter was tired of the electric guitar and wanted to move into different sounds.  We all wanted to shake things up, and we were starting to enjoy more acoustic things as well as rock stompers. The 'Hairshirt' mandolin riff is actually Bill Berry's...Our feeling was, 'We take the best songs'.  We knew there would be enough unifying themes to make it hold together. You have Michael's voice and the one producer. That keeps things in the ballpark, and it gives you a freedom to have a lot of different kings of songs, different tempos, different instrumentations, and things still hold together as a piece." 

'Green' went to twenty-seven in the UK, fourteen in Canada, thirteen in Australia, twelve in the US, six in New Zealand, and number three in Austria.  It has sold over four million copies worldwide.

'Orange Crush' went to the top of the US alternative and modern rock charts.

'Stand' also hit number one on the US alternative and modern rock charts and became the band's second top ten single on the pop chart.

Pop Song 89

Turn You Inside Out

World Leader Pretend


full album:

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe.

Side one – "Air side"
"Pop Song 89" – 3:04
"Get Up" – 2:39
"You Are the Everything" – 3:41
"Stand" – 3:10
"World Leader Pretend" – 4:17
"The Wrong Child" – 3:36
Side two – "Metal side"
"Orange Crush" – 3:51
"Turn You Inside-Out" – 4:16
"Hairshirt" – 3:55
"I Remember California" – 4:59
"Untitled" – 3:10

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