Sunday, September 10, 2006

"And I Feel Fine"

REM to release Best Of I.R.S Years 1982-1987
On September 12th, EMI will release the first comprehensive CD and DVD anthologies of R.E.M.'s 1980s I.R.S. Records catalog. The CD will be called And I Feel Fine…The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 and will be available in 2 formats: a 21-track single-disc collection of hits and band/fan favorites and a 2-CD Collector's Edition with a second 21-track disc of rarities including alternate takes, demos, previously unreleased mixes, and live recordings of classic R.E.M. The collector's edition will include 11 never-before released tracks. The DVD, When the Light Is Mine The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 Video Collection, includes the music videos from Chronic Town through Document, as well as live television performances and James Herbert’s short film, Left of Reckoning. DVD extras feature early interviews and rare acoustic performances.

If you've only heard REM post-1987, you've missed out on what I considered their best work. I realize that songs like Losing My Religion and albums like Automatic For the People and Green gave them exposure to a larger mainsteam audience, but their creativity and unique sound earlier in their career is what had influenced dozens of bands in the alternative, college rock scene of the mid 80's. On their first two albums, REM created what will be considered their landmark achievements and they begin to flesh out their sound to the fullest by the time they release Document, their last I.R.S. release.
As far as Greatest Hits albums rank, this one ranks quite high for the sheer fact there's no filler or duds and considering this is only the first quarter of their career. Their previously "Best Of" collections do NOT stand up to this one, this is the essential REM. Get the collector's edition as the 2nd disc of rarities is a treat, with many unreleased tracks and demos that sound crisp and clear and well worth seeking out.

"Radio-Free Europe" (Hib-tone version) - R.E.M
"Mystery To Me" (Demo; previously unreleased) - R.E.M.
"Bad Day" (Outtake; previously unreleased) - R.E.M.

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