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October 26, 1998 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-26

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d House Writers Series
The weekly meeting for writers at the Guild House welcomes Ann
Pal. Poet Ann Pai discusses her works and life as a writer. An
open mic and discussion will follow for her readings. The meeting
begins at 8:30 p.m., and admission is free. The Guild House is
located at 802 Monroe.

Ufie Lt ion a&u

Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
It's an R.E.M. Breaking Records day when Breaking
Records features R.E.M.'s latest release '"Up."
October 26,1998


R.E.M. alters musical perspectives

Courtsy of(.S.Reords
i-period R.E.M.: Buck, Stipe, Mills and Berry circa "Reckoning,"1983,
K Y.I: R.E.M.Trivia

By Andors Smitlyindall
JFor the Daily
R.E.M.'s career, now nearly two
decades old, is fodder for a wealth of
via and fun facts. If you know all'
Ifthis already, get help: You are a
drooling groupie with a sick obses-
Where are they now?
R.E.M. was formed in Athens, GA
in 1980. At the time, the University?
of Georgia, Athens college town was
host to a thriving underground music
scene. R.E.M.'s early peers included
the Method Actors, Pylon and the B-
$2s. '
R.E.M. by any other name
Before choosing their moniker at
random from a dictionary, the mem-
bers of R.E.M. considered such
names as Cans of Piss and Twisted
Kites. Fake names under which
IE.M. has performed include Bingo
Hand Job and the Georgia Peaches.
At the first Tibetan Freedom Concert,
Michael Stipe and Mike Mills
ed with members of U2 under
e name Automatic Baby.
Break on through
R.E.M.'s first release was a seven-
inch single version of "Radio Free
Europe," issued by ib-Tone in 1981.
The single was followed by a cas-
sette-only EP, "Chronic Town" on
'.R.S. (1982). The first full-length
R.E.M. album, also on I.R.S., was
1983s "Murmur." The band's first
Np-0 hit on the pop charts was "One
Love" from 1987's "Document"
(IRS). "Green" (Warner Bros., 1989)
was R.E.M.'s first major-label release.
You and Your Sister
Michael isn't the only musical
Stipe. His sister, Lynda, has been a"
mnember of such bands as OHOK,
;etch Hetchy and Jakarta Mix.
Maps and Legends
Everyone knows that the Byrds,,
the Velvet Underground and the Patti
rith Group influenced R.EM's
rund. But if you've never heard Big
Star, the Soft Boys, the 13th Floor
Elevators or Wire, you don't have the
whole picture.
Mystery to Me
With the exception of "Murmur"
.E.M. has always named each side .
oftheir albums. The A side of
"Chronic Town" was "Chronic
Town;" the B side was "Poster Torn."
ife's Rich Pageant" was comprised
tv"Dinner" and "Supper." Others
include: "Page"/"Leaf"
("Green"), "Time"/"Memory" ("Out
of Time"), and "Drive"/"Ride"
("Automatic for the People").
Cover story
Throughout their career, R.E.M.
ras recorded and officially released
cover versions of more than 40 songs
written by others. The most frequent-
covered band is the Velvet
Uderground - R.E.M. has record-
d 'The After Hours;'"Femme
itae," "Pale Blue Eyes," and
There She Goes Again."Others
among the eclectic group are the

Everly Brothers, Pink Floyd,
Leonard Cohen, The Troggs, Henry
Mancini, Lieber & Stoller,
Tchaikovsky, the Ohio Players,
Aerosmith and Richard Thompson.
A little help from my friends
Since the departure of Bill Berry,
R.E.M. has used the drummers
Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees)
and Joey Waronker (Beck) to round
out the quartet. But these aren't the
first musicians to have had the dis-
tinction of being "unofficial" mem-
bers of R.E.M. Chris Stamey and
Peter Holsapple were early regulars;
Scott McCaughey and Nathan
December more recently. Guests on
R.E.M. albums have included rapper
KRS-One ("Radio Song" on
"Green") and Patti Smith (the back-
ground vocal on "E-Bow the Letter"
from "New Adventures In Hi-Fi").
Side orders
R.E.M. members have always '
busied themselves with extracurric-
ular side projects: Berry, Buck and
Mills backed Warren Zevon as the
Hindu Love Gods, Stipe recorded
with the revolving-door supergroup
the Golden Palominos and Buck has
dabbled lately with the faux-jazzy
Tuatara and the Minus-5.
Lights, camera, action
Ever the Renaissance Man,
Michael Stipe has collaborated on a
book of poetry and published a book
of photographs. And soon, his film
company, C-100, will celebrate the
opening of its first nationwide the-
atrical release, "Velvet Goldmine."
Daysleeper, indeed
Peter Buck is credited with pro-
ducing the Feelies' 1986 album,
"The Good Earth." But according to
an account of the sessions in
"Kaleidoscope Eyes," critic Jim
DeRogatis' Bible of psychedelic
rock, "Buck spent most of his time
sleeping with his feet up on the mix-
ing console." One hopes he worked
harder at other production jobs -he
has presided over recordings by the
likes of the Flat Duo Jets and Uncle
Tupelo. Michael Stipe has done time
behind the board as well, most
notably as the producer of the first
two Vic Chesnutt albums.
Two voices are better than one
Outside of R.E.M., Michael Stipe
has recorded duets with the likes of
Natalie Merchant ("Photograph,"on
the "Born to Choose" benefit CD)
and Vic Chesnutt ("Injured Bird," on
the soundtrack to Wim Wenders'
film "The End ofViolence"). He has
also contributed vocals to albums by
various other friends, including Billy
Bragg ("Don't Try This At Home"),.
Kristin Hersh ("Hips and Makers"),
Vic Chesnutt ("Is the Actor
Happy?") and some long-forgotten
band named Hugo Largo ("Drums").
A duet with Tori Amos has yet to see
the light of day, and the oft-rumored
collaboration with Kurt Cobain
never made it past the conceptual

By Brian Cohen
Daily Music Editor
It was different.
It was strange.
You couldn't understand the words,
but you definitely got the message. It
wasn't loud and clear - in fact it was
ambiguous and murky - but it changed
rock music forever.
"Radio Free Europe" was the begin-
ning of an intriguing and stimulating
relationship between the music world
and a quartet of college kids from
Athens, Ga., called R.E.M. - a relation-
ship that has endured for more than 18
years worth of trend-setting, rule-break-
ing and genre-defying brilliance.
The magic seeds that bloomed into
R.E.M. were first planted in Athens in
the early part of 1980, when a gawky
bass player named Mike Mills and his
high school drummer friend Bill Berry
were introduced to a local record store
clerk named Peter Buck and his new art
school acquaintance: Michael Stipe.
Within a month of their first encounter,
the eclectic group realized they shared a
wide variety of musical interests (Velvet
Underground, Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols)
and quickly started learning a dizzying
array of punk rock covers and jangly
originals. Within the next year, the band
started making a name for itself in
Athens as an adrenaline-soaked live act,
and after the Hib-Tone single of "Radio
Free Europe" got the buzz officially
starting, I.R.S. records signed the band
and released R.E.M.'s first EP "Chronic
Town" in August of 1982.
Right away there was something all so
very wrong about R.E.M.. The bass lines
were too prominent in the mix, the gui-
tarist didn't know enough chords, the
drummer used (gasp!) tape loops for his
studio parts and, of course, the singer's
words made no sense whatsoever, if you
could decipher them at all. It wasn't like
anything else America had ever heard -
it wasn't disco and it wasn't country; it
wasn't pop and it wasn't jazz.
It was an alternative.
But it was not until the group record-
ed its full-length debut "Murmur" with
producer and Athens friend Mitch Easter
that R.E.M. began to delve deeply into
the exploration of the moody guitar riffs
and dynamic melodies that have
remained at the core of its songwriting
for the past two decades. With elements
of folk intertwined with art-rock influ-
ences of bands like Gang of Four, mean-
dering bass lines and passionate sound-
scapes twisted their way in and out of
songs like "Mortal Kiosk;" "Catapult"
and "9-9," making it obvious to all that
R.E.M. had stumbled onto something
original and intoxicating.
Despite peaking at No. 36 on the
American charts, "Murmur" was herald-
ed with a lion's share of critical acclaim,
and the band seemed content to prove
itself to the masses by embarking on
extensive tours. The follow up to
"Murmur" was recorded during a hazy
11-day vacation from the road, and the
resulting 1983 classic "Reckoning"
combined the raw energy of a live con-
cert with the group's unique sense of
increasingly diverse-yet-subtle musical
R.E.M. maintained this vigorous pace
for the better part of the next five years,
enduring a frustrating and difficult peri-

guitar and mandolin collection for
solace. The result was 1992's "Out of
Time," the shimmering epitome of the
band's folk-based acoustical prowess,
stripped down to the classic songwriting
core for which the quartet had by now
become famous. "Losing My Religion"
became R.E.M.'s biggest hit ever,
launching the band into the stratosphere
of superstardom for once and for all.
Stipe was speaking clearly now, and a
generation was listening to every word.
Now- one of the music industry's
hottest commodities, R.E.M. had offi-
cially gone from obscurity to ubiquity,
all the while skewing the definitions of
musical categories around it and down-
playing the awards and nominations that
had started to characterize its career.
Refusing to tour in support of "Out of
Time" it was clear that the band was not
interested in becoming the music world's
center of attention. Instead it seemed
more concerned with where it was going
to move musically for the next record.
The band's decision was surprising yet
effective. Even at the height of its popu-
larity, R.E.M. continued to shug off the
mainstream, and while Pearl Jam and
Nirvana were saturating the charts with
screaming guitars and screeching vocals,
R.E.M. decided to record its most quiet
and introspective album with virtually
no help from the electric guitar.
Nineteen-ninety three's "Automatic For
The People" remains the people's
favorite R.E.M. record, combining the
sobering subject matter of life, death and
solitude with chilling melodies and soft,
hushed vocal and string arrangements.
Flash forward again. Drummer Bill
Berry's decision to part ways with the
group this past year left the remaining
three members unsure of how to pro-
"We were just thrown into a com-
plete state of chaos," Stipe recently
admitted to Jam! Magazine. "And
with that, every technique and
process and rule book that we've ever
had in the past 10 albums, really, the
only way to kind of face the music,
and I hate to say that, the only way to
face the situation at hand, is to throw
it out the window and just say fuck it.
See R.E.M., Page 8A

Courtesy or Warmer Bros.
Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Michael Stipe continue to deliver genre-defying music.

od during the making of 1984's "Fables
of the Reconstruction," in which the
band attempted to come to grips with the
inexorable fame that it had started to gar-
ner, courtesy of the overwhelming
response from critics and its now mas-
sive cult following.
With each new release, the concerts
got a little wilder, the crowds got a little
larger and the buzz about R.E.M. got a
little louder. Thanks in part to a remark-
able willingness to stay on the road and
an impressive ability to continuously
evolve its seasoned songwriting style,
R.E.M. had started knocking on the
backdoor of success and seemed poised
to break it down without compromising
its creative integrity or artistic freedom.
Flash forward to the summer of 1989.
The proverbial door has been blown off
its hinges and trampled thoroughly
underfoot. In support of "Green," its
sixth and most commercially successful
album yet, R.E.M. reached the top of its
musical peak by making the transition
from small theaters to sold-out arenas,
launching its largest tour to date that
spanned 130 dates and 17 countries. The
band's previous album "Document" had
already given Berry, Buck, Mills and
Stipe their first taste of mainstream
accolades, as the blistering singles
"Finest Worksong," "The One I Love"
and "It's The End of the World As We
Know It (And I feel Fine)" reached audi-
ences well beyond the college radio mar-
ket that had once pigeon-holed them in
the music world's artistic underground.
Thanks to "Green"'s instantaneously
catchy single "Stand" and politically-
tinged rave-up "Orange Crush," R.E.M.
found itself assuming the unfamiliar role
of an arena rock band, and struggled to
cater its music to the tour's impersonal
venues. While some of the songs during

this period took on a more universally
palatable aura, the band deliberately
sidestepped all aspects of traditional
arena rock, refusing to buy into the stale
cliches that had ruined the credibility of
many of the '80s biggest acts. Instead of
fancy light shows, there were minimalis-
tic scribbles projected onto a modest
stage backdrop - completely bereft of
the gaudy glitz and glamour that had
characterized the decade.
Stardom had taken its toll on the
group. Exhausted from the grueling
"another album/ another tour" pace that
it had been maintaining since its forma-
tion, R.E.M. decided it was time for a
change. Peter Buck took a break from
the amplifiers and turned to his acoustic

(\I I.. w. .~l

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FA~ E-DAVE Employment Opportunities

nferes ed in a Career in Psycho/ogy?
Career Planning and Placement and the
Undergraduate Psychological Society
are sponsoring a PanelIscussion
"Fxporing Careers in Psycho/ogy"
Tues. Oct. 27 6:40-7:30 pm
Kuensel Room MUnion
for more info e-mail ups.board@umich.edu

Special Egg Donor Needed
We are a loving, infertile couple hoping
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