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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

There Is a Time of Reckoning in All Our Lives

Today, Universal Music will release the Deluxe Edition of R.E.M.’s seminal album Reckoning. The now two-CD set, features the original album remastered, plus a bonus disc of a previously unreleased concert recorded during the band’s "Little America" tour at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on July 7, 1984 (broadcast on WXRT). In addition, Reckoning and R.E.M’s 1983 debut album Murmur will be simultaneously reissued on audiophile quality 180 gram vinyl in their complete original packaging.

It was just that original packaging that drew me to this band over twenty five years ago. The Howard Finster/ Michael Stipe artwork was almost hypnotic to me and I spent countless hours trying to extract meaning from its outsider art themes. The record itself was produced by Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, and was recorded at Reflection Sound Studio in Charlotte, North Carolina over 16 days in December 1983 and January 1984. The results were groundbreaking and it remains one of my favourites of R.E.M.’s extensive canon.

According to the press release for the reissue, "Inclusion of the live concert is particularly appropriate for the Reckoning - Deluxe Edition. Whereas Murmur had been complex and painstakingly deliberate, the band’s Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, along with producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, saw Reckoning as a "chance to turn up the volume, tear up the rule book, and capture instead R.E.M.’s on-stage mojo." Their use of binaural mics in the recording process went a long way in establishing that aesthetic.

On the Deluxe Edition’s bonus disc, the band performs eight of Reckoning’s ten songs at the Aragon as well as “Gardening At Night” from 1982’s Chronic Town EP and “Radio Free Europe,” “9-9” and “Sitting Still” from Murmur. The band also plays two new songs that had yet to make it onto tape: “Driver 8” which would later appear on Fables of the Reconstruction and “Hyena," later on 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant.

Reckoning peaked on the charts at #27, nine spots higher than Murmur (Rolling Stone’s 1983 "Album of the Year") and was certified gold in 1991.

R.E.M. – Reckoning Deluxe Edition: DISC ONE
1. Harborcoat
2. 7 Chinese Bros.
3. So. Central Rain
4. Pretty Persuasion
5. Time After Time (Annelise)
6. Second Guessing
7. Letter Never Sent
8. Camera
9. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville
10. Little America

DISC TWO – Live at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL, July 7, 1984 / WXRT broadcast: Previously Unreleased
11. Femme Fatale
12. Radio Free Europe
13. Gardening at Night
14. 9-9
15. Windout
16. Letter Never Sent
17. Sitting Still
18. Driver 8
19. So. Central Rain
20. 7 Chinese Bros.
21. Harborcoat
22. Cushy Tush
23. Hyena
24. Pretty Persuasion
25. Little America
26. Second Guessing
27. (Don't Go Back To) Rockville

1 comment:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Do you mean it's NOT intestines? I suppose it could be noodles, but I dunno...

Call me a Philistine if you will, but I think record buyers are starting to reach saturation point on album reissues, don't you? Although I am sure this is a fine album, people will eventually say enough.