R.E.M. stepped up to perform on MTV Unplugged twice: once in 1991, coinciding with the release of their first alt country record 'Out of Time', and again ten years later, around the time of 'Reveal'. These two performances show a stripped back, completely acoustic incarnation of an alt rock band that was often murky with their guitars and full of fuzz. The 1991 performance, now available on its very own vinyl release, shows the band in fine acoustic form, having just released their most countrified record yet and set to record the even folksier 'Automatic For the People'. Even the more rock 'n' roll entries to 'Out Of Time' are stripped back here, including "Radio Song", which is given bongo drum and unabashed organ. The newly acoustic "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" could do with some twang.
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9/10 Ged Carney Customer review, 30th September 2014
I missed out on the original Record Store Day opportunity to buy this compilation. Mightily pleased when Rhino decided to release more copies into the mainstream , this is REM at their peak in both musical and popularity stakes. REM are always one of those bands that bring something more to the table. The original 1991 sessions were a new format at that time and one that seems to have caught the imagination of REM as a band and added another dimension to their sound . From a four piece rock band to one that's using bongo's , having near acapella songs to their library and the introduction of the Ukelele. There is a varied and novel aspects to how REM set about and deliver an interpretation of their songs.The set is one made up of all those songs that capture REM's career up to that date , you can't but help sit back and enjpy the uniqueness of these sessions and remembrance of what a good band REM were/are. This is not one where the band just slow down a song and then claim it to be an interpretation . ON this record you can see how the guys have thought about the interpretation of the songs that had been previously released . My own personal highlights of the record are losing my religion , where you can hear clearly the lyrics, the opening track half a world and World Leader Pretend. The album couldn't be produced without REM's version of Love is All Around and which on it's own is great but gives this writer flashbacks of the Wet Wet Wet version and ensuing PTSD ( i do think Wet Wet Wet ) robbed the idea from REM . The one that sort of doesn't work is The End of The World as we know . electrically a great song which just doesn't transfer to acoustic. A bit of a draw back that there is no download code with the album either , leaving listening in the Living Room only . However , this is a must buy album no matter what format you may find that you purchase it in .
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- MTV Unplugged 1991 by R.E.M.
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