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R.E.M. - "Collapse Into Now"


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Lifted from a thread on murmurs.com. Review of a listening party in London yesterday:

 

 

http://www.thesunday...?plckController

 

The return of REM

 

Last night, at a top-secret London bar (Bureau, 13 Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW to be precise), REM’s 15th studio album was played back to a natter of industry types who may or not own the band’s debut Chronic Town EP, writes Jonathan Dean. The new record is Collapse into Now and has been described pre-release by band members as sounding like Automatic for the People. That record shifted a few million units. Will Collapse do the same?

 

No, of course it won’t. Automatic was the album every mum liked (15 million copies worldwide) and ever since its 1992 release, the band have produced little to please fans of that softer acoustic folky side. It’s fair to say, for instance, that anyone lured in by the utilitarian pop of Everybody Hurts probably doesn’t do karaoke to 1994’s Tongue, with its sordid motel tales of sex and sperm.

 

Collapse into Now then is REM’s (final?) attempt to woo back the millions. The good news then is that on first, confused, listen in a bar where people seemed more interested in the rib racks than Rickenbackers, there were hints that at least a couple of thousand may come back to the Georgians’ fold.

 

For on Überlin, Oh My Heart, It Happened Today and Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I, there is a return to that softer acoustic folky side barely heard for the best part of two decades. The songs roll and reflect much like Automatic’s Try Not to Breathe or, in the case of Überlin, Drive. What’s more, Every Day is Yours to Win carries an Eels-like riff so delicate it’s the prettiest thing they’ve done since Up’s At My Most Beautiful – perhaps the last song fairweather fans know and like.

 

Most interesting though is the last track, Blue. With Stipe talking like he does on Out of Time’s Low and Patti Smith reprising her E-Bow the Letter coo, it’s a haunting, beautiful, epic end to Collapse into Now, showing up new songs such as Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter – a straightforward polished rocker that seems to resort to titular meaningless to recapture the bafflement of Stipe’s early lyrics.

 

AAAA though, to be fair, would sound immense live in somewhere small and dingy, in an indoor venue nobody would even consider calling a stadium. As it is, when REM inevitably play the O2 later in 2011, the song – much like many of those on Collapse – will be used by couply concertgoers to amble to the bar in readiness for the Man on the Moon encore.

 

If REM were, say, U2 – a band who decided long ago to keep all their fans and never be interesting again – Collapse into Now would be another multi-million seller treading the same old, same old since 1992’s Automatic. As it is, it’s a record for the band to grow old gracefully with, making music perhaps more reflective of their age, perhaps pulling back a few fans for the pension and, with songs like the excellent Mine Smell Like Honey, offering enough nods to 1980s glories to keep those who have stuck by their side entertained.

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No kidding. I wish R.E.M. would stop with the leaks, as I have zero discipline or patience.

 

I've liked (to varying degrees) every leaked song so far, but Uberlin is my favorite. Beautiful song.

 

I freely admit I could be missing something here but I don't get the lovefest for Uberlin. It's good but all the, "it's the best thing since ......" really has me scratching my head. It happened today is the song that I am really digging.

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I freely admit I could be missing something here but I don't get the lovefest for Uberlin. It's good but all the, "it's the best thing since ......" really has me scratching my head.

 

 

Hard to explain. Every now and then R.E.M. makes a song that just sounds like a totally fresh way to make an R.E.M. song....which is amazing that they can still do after so many great records. I felt the same way when I first heard "Lotus", "Why Not Smile" and "I've Been High".

 

I also like the lyrics of Uberlin..."Find the River"-ish.

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Hard to explain. Every now and then R.E.M. makes a song that just sounds like a totally fresh way to make an R.E.M. song....which is amazing that they can still do after so many great records. I felt the same way when I first heard "Lotus", "Why Not Smile" and "I've Been High".

 

I also like the lyrics of Uberlin..."Find the River"-ish.

 

No need to explain, I feel that way about IHT. Not sure about the lyric though, that line "i will make it through the day, then the day turns to night, I will make it through the night" actually to me sounds rather pedestrian. To me, to compare that to, "river to the ocean goes, a fortune for the undertow" is comparing apples to rocks but as always, ymmv.

 

My wife said about Mine Smells... "God, every song of theirs is starting to sound the same." To which my reply was, no shit, it's always been variations on a theme, more or less.

 

As JMS was quoted, he once said that a friend of his said there were 7 songs in rock 'n roll and R.E.M. did 3 of them very well to which Stipe said he could only agree.

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"U-Berlin" is one of those songs for me which is initially underwhelming which after several plays refuses to leave my head. A true R.E.M. classic in my humble opinion. The live version of "Oh My Heart" is really good too. It would seem they have written a lot of songs that previously they might not have recorded for sounding too much like themselves in their heyday.

 

I don't know how I feel about 5 full songs being aired and another four clips being available prior to the album's release. There's a line between to little and too much that has been crossed to me.

 

I am genuinely surprised that R.E.M. aren't touring this year. This is obviously the most commercial-sounding record they have released in eons and you would have thought given how far their popularity has fallen that would have been tempted to do everything to promote it. They didn't tour "Out Of Time" or "Automatic" so maybe they are hoping for some of the similar mojo to rub off.

 

As this fulfills their obligation to Warner's Bros, might this be their swan-song? Perhaps with a farewell tour to follow in 2012? This would neither surprise me nor disappoint me. At 30 + years as a band I think they could call it quits soon with heads held high and plenty of other ventures to keep their members busy and satisfied.

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"U-Berlin" is one of those songs for me which is initially underwhelming which after several plays refuses to leave my head. A true R.E.M. classic in my humble opinion. The live version of "Oh My Heart" is really good too. It would seem they have written a lot of songs that previously they might not have recorded for sounding too much like themselves in their heyday.

 

I don't know how IS feel about 5 full songs being aired and another four clips being available prior to the album's release. There's a line between to little and too much that has been crossed to me.

 

I am genuinely surprised that R.E.M. aren't touring this year. This is obviously the most commercial-sounding record they have released in eons and you would have thought given how far their popularity has fallen that would have been tempted to do everything to promote it. They didn't tour "Out Of Time" or "Automatic" so maybe they are hoping for some of the similar mojo to rub off.

 

As this fulfills their obligation to Warner's Bros, might this be their swan-song? Perhaps with a farewell tour to follow in 2012? This would neither surprise me nor disappoint me. At 30 + years as a band I think they could call it quits soon with heads held high and plenty of other ventures to keep their members busy and satisfied.

Agree with being underwhelmed at first at Uberlin, not ready to call it a classic but it i really like it.it happened today is my fav so far. I probably haven't anticipated an rem record like this since reveal. Got me in a major rem mood, so much so that i uploaded all my rem stuff on cd to my iPod. Man, i forgot what an rem collection i have, i was obsessive about this band.

 

Can't find my 2004 and 2008 fan club singles though, gotta be here somewhere.

 

I don't think this will be their last record. Could be as they don't seem like the kind of band to do the whole farewell tour thing but i can't imagine them stopping after what is shaping up as a great album, although going out on top I'm sure would be appealing to them. Still holding out hope for the last record having BB on the kit.

 

There was a thread a wile back about who out of radiohead, rem and Wilco would have the best record this year. Looking like rem has set the bar pretty high.

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Agree with being underwhelmed at first at Uberlin, not ready to call it a classic but it i really like it.it happened today is my fav so far. I probably haven't anticipated an rem record like this since reveal. Got me in a major rem mood, so much so that i uploaded all my rem stuff on cd to my iPod. Man, i forgot what an rem collection i have, i was obsessive about this band.

 

Can't find my 2004 and 2008 fan club singles though, gotta be here somewhere.

 

I don't think this will be their last record. Could be as they don't seem like the kind of band to do the whole farewell tour thing but i can't imagine them stopping after what is shaping up as a great album, although going out on top I'm sure would be appealing to them. Still holding out hope for the last record having BB on the kit.

 

There was a thread a wile back about who out of radiohead, rem and Wilco would have the best record this year. Looking like rem has set the bar pretty high.

 

Yes, I am with you. Played "Fables" and "Life's Rich Pageant" back to back this morning. So many great memories tied to listening to both of these obsessively as a teenager. Almost half-a-century later I am still picking out some of Michael Stipe's lyrics that had thus far been a mystery to me.

 

Dunno - have a feeling about them going out on a high with this record. Looking back to Bill Berry leaving I am surprised that the three remaining members haven't been tempted to ask him back to the studio. Not so much for his drumming chops (as good as they are) but for his judgement and songwriting skills. He was never prolific but wrote the music for two of R.E.M.'s most memorable slow-burners "Perfect Circle" and "Everybody Hurts".

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I like this one too, Mills backing vocals on it are a little intrusive though and grating.

 

Agreed. I wish they would just finally get rid of these so-called "harmonies" *ouch* and let Michael's voice be Michael's voice instead of this so-called "Producer" re-working his vocals beyond recognition.

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Dunno - have a feeling about them going out on a high with this record. Looking back to Bill Berry leaving I am surprised that the three remaining members haven't been tempted to ask him back to the studio. Not so much for his drumming chops (as good as they are) but for his judgement and songwriting skills. He was never prolific but wrote the music for two of R.E.M.'s most memorable slow-burners "Perfect Circle" and "Everybody Hurts".

Maybe they have, who knows. Clearly they have missed him as the songs got longer and less focused. Up was a great record but they kind of said it was the last record with BB because his absence had such an effect. Reveal got less focused and ATS was just boring. It's ashame because that isn't a good record because of bad songs but beacause of bad producing and arranging, there are a lot of great melodies on that record. I think Pat McCarthy had a lot to do with this as well, allowing them to get bogged down in mid-tempo blandness.

 

It seems like they are focusing now on the last 2 records they way BB would have and the results are there. I love a quote a read once where Berry would tell the guys once a song got over 4 minutes that no one wanted to hear their magnum opus. Clearly they put that advice aside for a while.

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Maybe they have, who knows. Clearly they have missed him as the songs got longer and less focused. Up was a great record but they kind of said it was the last record with BB because his absence had such an effect. Reveal got less focused and ATS was just boring. It's ashame because that isn't a good record because of bad songs but beacause of bad producing and arranging, there are a lot of great melodies on that record. I think Pat McCarthy had a lot to do with this as well, allowing them to get bogged down in mid-tempo blandness.

 

It seems like they are focusing now on the last 2 records they way BB would have and the results are there. I love a quote a read once where Berry would tell the guys once a song got over 4 minutes that no one wanted to hear their magnum opus. Clearly they put that advice aside for a while.

 

 

Spot on analysis. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Spot on analysis. Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

Thanks.

 

I used to be obsessive about collecting every b-side etc but got away from that in the '00's and have recenntly discovered the bonus tracks, to Bad Day: Favorite Writer, Out in the Country and Adagio and these are really good, not sure how i missed them. I have created a folder on itunes for non-album R.E.M. tracks and so far, not including the b-sides/bonus tracks that appeared on Dead Letter Office and In The Attic but including the fan club single songs that arent' xmas related, I'm sitting at around 145 tracks and I know I'm missing a few. If you include the DLO, ITA and all fan club single tracks that brings the total close to 200. That seems like a pretty crazy amount of official non-album tracks to me.

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Thanks.

 

I used to be obsessive about collecting every b-side etc but got away from that in the '00's and have recenntly discovered the bonus tracks, to Bad Day: Favorite Writer, Out in the Country and Adagio and these are really good, not sure how i missed them. I have created a folder on itunes for non-album R.E.M. tracks and so far, not including the b-sides/bonus tracks that appeared on Dead Letter Office and In The Attic but including the fan club single songs that arent' xmas related, I'm sitting at around 145 tracks and I know I'm missing a few. If you include the DLO, ITA and all fan club single tracks that brings the total close to 200. That seems like a pretty crazy amount of official non-album tracks to me.

 

Wow that is crazy. Going back some years, well before the birth of the internet, I used to have 20-30 bootleg tapes from '81 to '89 but that pales in comparison to your effort.

 

Talking of bonus material. I love the live tracks that accompany some of the singles off "NAIHF". The live versions of "Undertow", "Binky The Doormat" and "The Wake-Up Bomb" blow the studio versions away.

 

They also include my favourite REM Cover of "Wichita Lineman". Listened to that last night and never tire of it.

 

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Wow that is crazy. Going back some years, well before the birth of the internet, I used to have 20-30 bootleg tapes from '81 to '89 but that pales in comparison to your effort.

 

Talking of bonus material. I love the live tracks that accompany some of the singles off "NAIHF". The live versions of "Undertow", "Binky The Doormat" and "The Wake-Up Bomb" blow the studio versions away.

 

They also include my favourite REM Cover of "Wichita Lineman". Listened to that last night and never tire of it.

 

Love Witchita Lineman

 

There's a guy over at murmurs that got a hold of the multi tracks for hifi and remixed it. To me, hifi always suffered from a bit of muddiness on the sound since most of the recording was done in soundcheck and live on the '95 tour. He stripped it down and the songs really breathe. He posted the link on a Morrisey board, I highly recommend checking them out.

 

Here's a link to murmurs which has the link to the morrisey board http://www.murmurs.com/topic/116370-my-new-adventures-remix/page__p__2040299__hl__thomas08__fromsearch__1#entry2040299

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Talking of bonus material. I love the live tracks that accompany some of the singles off "NAIHF". The live versions of "Undertow", "Binky The Doormat" and "The Wake-Up Bomb" blow the studio versions away.

 

There's a guy over at murmurs that got a hold of the multi tracks for hifi and remixed it. To me, hifi always suffered from a bit of muddiness on the sound since most of the recording was done in soundcheck and live on the '95 tour.

 

Hmm. I was going to post that it's ironic that auctioneer thought that the live versions blew away the "studio" versions, when in fact these "studio" versions were done live or at soundcheck (like dtram mentioned) and the audience noise was stripped away. R.E.M. didn't fool anyone here. These definitely sound different than the studio tracks on New Adventures, so I agree with dtram on his thoughts about this record's sound. I think even The Wake Up Bomb was done at a soundcheck. That being said why are people downloading these fan remixed tracks when they can get the live B-sides of the same songs, but not the same session? (edit: downloading that now. Hmm. Bittersweet Me stripped down to acoustic? This should be interesting.)

 

And you can even hear some audience noise at the end of Undertow.

 

Oh, and don't forget about Revolution that was on the Batman & Robin soundtrack. That also sounded weird hearing it in the movie because it sounded live. I guess the smartass wish would be instead of live b-sides how about actual studio takes of these songs.

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Hmm. I was going to post that it's ironic that auctioneer thought that the live versions blew away the "studio" versions, when in fact these "studio" versions were done live or at soundcheck (like dtram mentioned) and the audience noise was stripped away. R.E.M. didn't fool anyone here. These definitely sound different than the studio tracks on New Adventures, so I agree with dtram on his thoughts about this record's sound. I think even The Wake Up Bomb was done at a soundcheck. That being said why are people downloading these fan remixed tracks when they can get the live B-sides of the same songs, but not the same session? (edit: downloading that now. Hmm. Bittersweet Me stripped down to acoustic? This should be interesting.)

 

And you can even hear some audience noise at the end of Undertow.

 

Oh, and don't forget about Revolution that was on the Batman & Robin soundtrack. That also sounded weird hearing it in the movie because it sounded live. I guess the smartass wish would be instead of live b-sides how about actual studio takes of these songs.

 

I let that go that they weren't studio versions as I figured he just liked the other versions better. The only studio songs on hifi are How The West Was Won, New Test Leper, E-Bow and Be Mine. I remember at the time of the Monster tour that Peter said the goal was to have 10 new songs in the set by the end of the tour and make a record from that; they got pretty close. I believe the only song that was written after the tour and never soundchecked was How The West Was Won.

 

I think the answer to why are fans downloading these remixed tracks is that they sound really different and to my ears, better. Love to know what you think. Also, a buddy and I each downloaded this but Undertow was corrupted and only played for 31 seconds. If you get a clean version, I'd love it if you could e-mail it to me. Let me know.

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Ditto on Undertow. I may take time on this snow day to go through that R.E.M. page on the Morrisey board to look for a fixed track.

Lots of other cool stuff on there. Thanks for that link.

 

Haven't listened to them yet. Although, I did play a little bit of the beginning of each to make sure that they downloaded ok.

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