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"...Try To Tell Us Something We Don't Know...",
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This review is from: Document (25th Anniversary Edition) (Audio CD)
The last of the 5 studio albums R.E.M. recorded for IRS Records finally gets the DELUXE EDITION CD treatment in 2012 and like the others before it - "Reckoning" (1983), "Murmur" (1983), "Fables Of The Reconstruction" (1985) and "Life's Rich Pageant" (1986) - it's a mixed bag of vastly improved sound quality offset by hollow extras you're never going to play, infuriating packaging and a far-too-steep price tag.
Released Monday 24 September 2012 in the UK (25 Sept 2012 in the USA) as a 2CD Mini Box Set on Capitol 509999972000628 - it breaks down as follows:
Disc 1 is the 11-track studio album "Document" first released on vinyl in early September 1987 on IRS 42059 in the USA and on IRS MIRG 1025 in the UK (39:49 minutes)
Disc 2 is a 20-track PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED live set called "Live At Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht, Holland 14 September 1987". It was recorded for Vara Radio and runs to 79:37 minutes.
The first thing that hits you is the power of the REMASTERED album which has been done by ROBERT VOSGIEN in the USA - never too showy or trebled up - it's impressive to say the least. The drums and bass are so sweet now and the guitars finally heard - making lesser-heard nuggets like "Disturbance At The Heron House" (lyrics above) and "King Of Birds" suddenly feel alive. The treated guitar and drum opening of "Oddfellows Local 151" is HUGE - again not overdone - just meaty in all the right ways. "Strange" is the same - great rocking stuff...
The live set with its 20-tracks and near 80 minutes playing time is certainly value for money - but I found after 4 songs its unlistenable - same tune - over and over again. The sound quality is excellent though - great presence.
The 10-page booklet has some new liner notes by David Daley describing the US political landscape that so influenced the songs (Reagan, Iran etc) - there's a large black and white fold-out poster and 4 x Lobby Cards of the band. But you can't help feel that instead of puffed-up presentation there should have been non-album B-sides and outtakes instead of tedious live stuff. The lyrics aren't reproduced - neither is the inner sleeve to the UK LP - and you can't read the typically oblique artwork that isn't artwork.
The overall feel is this - a really great remaster of the album that truly makes you reassess just how good the album was - but the rest is superfluous to requirements - and you're being charged for the privilege.
These guys used to be the biggest band in the world - and the excellent remaster of this forgotten album will go some way to explaining why.
But I doubt the rest will do anyone any favours...especially long suffering fans...