R.E.M. (formed 1980) R.E.M. is an alternative American rock band. The lineup of the band consists of Michael Stipe on lead vocals, Peter Buck on guitar, Mike Mills on bass guitar and Bill Berry on drums and percussion.
Formative Years: Michael Stipe met Peter Buck in 1980 whilst Buck was working in a record store in Athens, Georgia. They shared a love of bands like Television, Patti Smith and The Velvet Underground. The pair of them soon met Bill Berry and Mike Mills, who were students at the University of Georgia. Their debut gig as a band was at a friend's birthday party in April 1980.
R.E.M.'s first single was 'Radio Free Europe', released in 1981 on the independent Hib-Tone label.
I.R.S. Records obtained a copy of R.E.M.'s demo tapes and signed a contract with the band, despite R.E.M. having been courted by RCA Records. The Chronic Town EP was R.E.M.'s first major label release.
Debut album onwards: R.E.M.'s debut album, Murmur, was released in 1983, to huge critical acclaim. Rolling Stone magazine made the album its record of the year. Their first national TV appearance came in October of that year, when they appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. They performed 'So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)', which became the lead single from their second album, Reckoning.
The third album from R.E.M. was 1985's Fables of the Reconstruction. It was produced by Joe Boyd, who had previously worked with Nick Drake and Fairport Convention and they recorded the album in England. The resulting recordings were seen as a departure from the quality of their predecessors.
Life's Rich Pageant was released in 1986 and was recorded by John Mellencamp's producer, Don Gehman, who raised the profile of Stipe's vocals in the songs. The track 'Fall On Me' became popular on commercial radio.
R.E.M.'s fifth album, Document became their breakthrough release. Frustrated by I.R.S. Records' poor overseas distribution, R.E.M. signed with Warner Bros. Records when their existing contract had expired. Their major label debut was 1988's Green, recorded in Nashville, Tennessee. The album has sold over 4 million units worldwide.
In 1990, following a 12-month break, R.E.M. reconvened and recorded Out of Time, using the mandolin, organ and acoustic guitar to break away from the expected sound of alterative guitar bands. The lead single, 'Losing My Religion', became a massive worldwide hit, as was its follow-up, 'Shiny Happy People', featuring Kate Pierson of the B-52s.
The next album from R.E.M. was 1991's Automatic for the People, another huge global success. Many of the tracks featured string arrangements by John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin's bass player. Again, the album spawned a number of global hits, including 'Man On The Moon' and 'Everybody Hurts'.
In 1994, R.E.M. released Monster, intended to be a more upbeat album, after the two slow-paced releases preceding it. The album featured the popular tracks 'What's the Frequency, Kenneth?' and 'Bang and Blame'.
In March 1995, Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm and collapsed onstage in Switzerland. Although he recovered within a month, the band was plagued with other health issues, as Mills required abdominal surgery and Stipe also required emergency surgery to repair a hernia. The following year, however, they still managed to release an album, Adventures in Hi-Fi, having re-signed with Warner Bros for a staggering $80 million contract.
In April 1997, Bill Berry left the band. The remaining three members decided to carry on as a three-piece. For their next recording sessions, they hired Barrett Martin, formerly of Screaming Trees and Joey Waronker, Beck's touring drummer. Despite troubles and tensions during the recordings, Up was finally released in 1998, with 'Daysleeper' being the lead single from the album. The following year, they released the instrumental score to Milos Forman's Man on the Moon. The film was an Andy Kaufman biopic and starred Jim Carrey as the lead character and Courtney Love as his girlfriend. Also in the film were Danny DeVito and Paul Giamatti.
R.E.M. then released Reveal in 2001, with Waronker drumming, as well as Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5 and Ken Stringfellow of Posies.
Around the Sun was released in 2004. The lead single was 'Leaving New York' and around this time, the band hired a permanent new drummer for the purposes of touring, Bill Rieflin. Rieflin was previously a member of Ministry. That year, R.E.M. joined the Vote For Change tour, with Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Bright Eyes.
Whilst rehearsing for their induction into the Georgia Hall of Fame, R.E.M. also recorded a version of John Lennon's '?9 Dream' for Amnesty International.
Accelerate was released in 2008, following recording sessions with the producer Jacknife Lee. The album debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard charts.
R.E.M.'s music has inspired a number of bands, most notably Nirvana. Lead singer Kurt Cobain was vocal in his praise of the band and he and his wife, Courtney Love, of Hole, became good friends with Michael Stipe.
Way before there was a 'Man On The Moon' and an 'End Of The World As We Know It'; before they were 'Automatic For The People' or even 'Out Of Time', R.E.M. were still a cult band waiting for their big moment.
Four years after R.E.M. had formed, and seven before they would release their true breakthrough album, Out Of Time, the band released their second full length studio album, Reckoning. By the time 1984 came around there was already a high degree of expectation for R.E.M. to build on their critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur. Making Rolling Stone magazine's album of the year with their first album was no mean feat. Regardless of how good critics and fans may have thought the debut album from R.E.M. was you still wouldn't have put money on it beating MJ's Thriller or U2's War, but it did.
R.E.M. may not have converted their critical acclaim into physical sales with their debut album but they did get themselves noticed and had certainly put themselves firmly on the musical map. Work on album number two couldn't start quickly enough for R.E.M., especially for band co-founder and lead guitarist Peter Buck who said, "We were going through this streak where we were writing two good songs a week". The rate at which the songs were being written lead to speculation that R.E.M. may deliver a double second album but this never came to fruition. Instead the band recorded their next album over a 16 day period that started in December 1983 and ended in the middle of January 1984, honing down 22 potential songs into the final ten that made the original album cut.
Continue reading: Album Of The Week - The 37th Anniversary Of 'Reckoning' By R.E.M.
These songs were written for times like these.
You're probably stuck at home with little to do, no gigs to go to and no parties to attend, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun. We've put together a completely inappropriate playlist of songs about self-isolation, sickness and the apocalypse so you can have your very own CORVID-19 party. On your own.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Down with the Sickness - Disturbed
Continue reading: Stay In And Rock Out: A Playlist To Get You Through Quarantine
This article is dedicated to Caroline Flack.
The last few days have been difficult for a lot of people as we come to terms with the loss of British TV presenter Caroline Flack. She took her own life following a relentless assault against her character by the tabloid press as she struggled to deal with her relationship, a court case and losing her job.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Now social media has been flooded with messages urging people to "Be kind", because we never know exactly what someone else is going through. If you ever feel low enough that you are considering taking your own life, we believe that music can help you reconsider...
Continue reading: Songs To Play When You Feel Like There's No Way Out [Playlist]
If the Spice Girls can put aside their differences, why can't these bands?
With the massive headline news that the Spice Girls have (eventually) decided to reunite once again, nailing on a huge stadium tour of the UK next summer, it got us thinking – what other bands would we love to see reform?
Below are five bands from the worlds of pop and rock who are still holding out on the lucrative reunion dollar – all their members are still alive, so come on guys, bring it on!
Continue reading: Five Bands We'd Love To See Reunite!
When politicians try to get some reflected glory off pop anthems, it never ends well.
After Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler had to write a second cease-and-desist letter to Donald Trump asking him to stop playing their songs during his rallies this week – having already called him out for doing the same with ‘Dream On’ three years ago – we thought we’d compile some other famous moments when politicians got scolded by musicians for using their songs without permission.
Almost inevitably, such clashes come up when songs are used by right-wing or conservative parties and candidates. Musicians are a fairly liberal bunch, understandably, and they don’t want their messages and sentiments getting confused with those counter to their own beliefs and ideologies.
So, here’s seven other famous moments when politicians tried to get some credibility off pop stars.
Continue reading: 7 Times Politicians Tried To Use Pop Songs Without Permission
Michael Stipe still isn't ready to make a solo album, though he enjoyed producing Fischerspooner's new record.
Michael Stipe still isn't ready to make a solo album.
The 58-year-old singer - whose band REM disbanded in 2011 - was "surprised" at how comfortably he settled back into the recording studio while producing Fischerspooner's new LP 'Sir', but he insists the experience wasn't enough to make him want to set down his own track.
He said: "[Producing 'Sir'] definitely brought me back to music in a very unexpected way. I had had a good five years off, away from writing and composing.
Continue reading: Michael Stipe Not Ready For Solo Record
R.E.M. insist they are happy they had the ''luxury'' of splitting on their own terms and nothing could tempt them back together.
R.E.M. insist there is ''nothing on this Earth'' that would make them reform.
The 'Nightswimming' hitmakers - comprising Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe - went their separate ways in an amicable split in 2011 and feel it was a ''luxury'' being able to disband when they were all ready, rather than there being any external pressure or influences.
Asked if anything could make them reform, Mike said: ''No, there is really nothing on this Earth that would make us want to get back together.
Continue reading: R.E.M. Won't Reform
A couple of weeks ago we told you about the video that Idris Elba had made for Mumford & Sons, now another interesting mish-mash of musicians and actors have joined forces for another video, and this time around it's a video for REM directed by James Frano, with Lindsay Lohan making an appearance. A truly odd mix of people. But c'est la vie, it could be good.
In almost 6 minutes of film, the tone is very much the same: jaded America. The 'song' is less a song and more a fairly good example of spoken word poetry by Michael Stipe ("I can be bad poet / Street poet / Sh*t poet / Kind poet too"). Both verbally and visually, with 'lyrics' such as "Twentieth century, collapse into now /Cinderella boy you've lost your shoe" and images of strip clubs and the words 'has been' popping up on screen, the despondency is clear. It's somewhat reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black America's stunning track 'Dead Flag Blues', though REM's 'Blue' holds out much more hope. James Franco's done a stirling job of matching the video to the track, in a way that Elba failed to do with Mumford & Sons. And Lohan basically just plays herself, appearing ina black leotard, with platinum blonde hair, biting her lip in front of a camera. Good job LiLo.
Continue reading: Unlikely Bunch: REM, James Franco And Lindsay Lohan Make A Music Video.
Lifes Rich Pageant remains a key milestone in R.E.M.'s extensive back catalogue. This was after all the moment that inaudible lyrics and murky soundscapes gave way to big guitar riffs and even bigger drums. Outgrowing the confines of their niche college rock appeal; Buck, Berry, Mills and Stipe were faced with creating a different type of record. The new deluxe box of the bands 4th studio effort celebrates the leap forward that they took towards international success.
Continue reading: REM, Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary edition) Album Review
Every REM album since 1994's disappointing Monster has been described by one critic or another as a 'return to form'. Personally, I'm not convinced that the band are capable of making another album as good as Reckoning or Automatic For The People; when you've been writing and playing music together for several decades, it must be difficult to stumble upon exceptional new ideas. This needn't be a problem, though; a second-rate REM single is still a hell of a lot better than anything most other guitar bands can conjure up, as 'UBerlin' amply demonstrates.
Continue reading: REM, Uberlin Single Review
REM - Michael Stipe of REM London, England - leaving Radio 1 studios and signing autographs for fans Wednesday 26th March 2008