Collapse Into Now: Special Edition Digipack CD
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For Collapse Into Now, R.E.M., which is singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills, re-teamed with Grammy Award-winning producer Jacknife Lee, who produced the band’s acclaimed previous album Accelerate. Lee is also noted for his work on albums by U2, Snow Patrol, The Hives, and indie stalwarts Kasabian, Editors, Aqualung, and Bloc Party. R.E.M. and Lee recorded the album in New Orleans at the Music Shed and in Berlin at the famed Hansa Studios, where several legendary albums, including David Bowie’s Heroes, U2’s Achtung Baby, and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life, were made. Additional recording and mixing was done at the venerable Blackbird Studio in Nashville.
The band has also revealed that Collapse Into Now features some very special guests: Patti Smith, guitarist Lenny Kaye, Peaches, Eddie Vedder, and The Hidden Cameras frontman Joel Gibb.
"I guess a three-legged dog is still a dog," said Michael Stipe when drummer Bill Berry quit R.E.M. in 1997. True, but a three-legged dog never triumphed at Crufts or the racetrack. Even so, the R.E.M. that recorded 1998’s Up (experimental, frequently beautiful), 2001’s Reveal (lush, frequently beautiful) only started listing badly on 2004’s Around the Sun, where a mystifyingly insipid production and sluggish mood got in the way of frequent bouts of beauty. Stung into action, they tore through 2008’s frequently thrilling Accelerate – but can an R.E.M. album ever feel like an event again?
The clock is indeed ticking for the band, this being their 15th album on their 30th anniversary. But Radiohead should be so lucky at this stage. Even if a lyric sheet on a R.E.M. album doesn’t feel right, Stipe’s words are alluring, enigmatic and provocative, free of rhetoric (the Hurricane Katrina aftermath of Oh My Heart notwithstanding). Unlike Accelerate, Collapse into Now is also free of a planned response to a predecessor. It’s as varied and deep as previous R.E.M. classics. It’s not epochal like Automatic for the People, but it can’t be. These are different times.
On that basis, the album kicks off like Accelerate Part Two, with Discoverer and All the Best incorporating that sinewy and keening R.E.M. rock thrust of old. There are also passages that are, yes, frequently beautiful. All five ballads get the tense, urgent delivery they deserve, and at best, Walk It Back show as they get older, R.E.M. are even better at gravitas, Oh My Heart’s accordion/mandolin undertow is an immediate earworm and Every Day Is Yours to Win is the kind of wistful lullaby often reserved for an album finale.
The closing track here is more in line with You from 1994’s Monster: Peter Buck’s guitar is drenched in fuzz, Country Feedback-style; Stipe’s spoken word diatribe and Patti Smith’s solemn incantation equally fire; and a surprise coda returns to Discoverer’s exuberant chorus. Before then, though, we’ve heard the first (non-session) guest men on an R.E.M. album. Every Day… features Eddie Vedder and The Hidden Cameras’ Joel Gibb on valiant backing vocals and Patti’s faithful guitar foil Lenny Kaye transforms Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter into something that’s virtually hard rock (Peaches adds lascivious vocal back-ups). Fun, maybe, but also overblown. Consider it the album’s only misjudgement. Fortunately, That Someone Is You follows in a more dutifully golden, Byrds-ian rush.
Buck reckons no R.E.M. in 20 years has 12 songs as good as this. 1996’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi may have something to say about that, but Collapse into Now genuinely feels like their first post-Bill Berry album to resemble a four-legged dog. And that, folks, is an event.
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Top Customer Reviews
'Discoverer', 'Uberlin', 'Oh My Heart' and 'Mine Smell Like Honey' are cracking R.E.M. songs, bearing all the best hallmarks of the band; melody, harmony and jangling guitars aplenty. In 'It Happened Today', lightweight lyrics aside (ironic, who knows?) R.E.M. have delivered the best soaring harmonies and chorus since the sublime 'Texarcana'. 'Blue', with its Patti Smith vocals and feedback guitar, is reminiscent of the wondrous 'Country Feedback'. But all of them are strong songs in their own right; their similarity to past glories being just that, glorious. No one ever likened anything on Around The Sun to R.E.M.'s previous work, and with good reason (although that album is nowhere near as execrable as popular opinion would have us believe).
So there you have it. Two decent albums in a row. The band sounds like R.E.M. again. Thank heavens for that; they have never really sounded like anyone else. They have rediscovered decent songwriting, soaring harmonies and loud jangling guitars, and they sound like they had a great time doing it. How many other American bands from the 80s are knocking out material of this quality after 25 years? Buy it, and enjoy.
event of sufficient importance that we have to sit up and listen!
With a band who have been with us in the listening world for
such a long time it's hard to resist the urge to look backwards
over our shoulder and compare each album with what has gone before.
There's a big, brave body of work stretching out behind them like
a wild wave on which we have surfed with them across three decades!
'Collapse Into Now' is a fine album (some decidedly dodgy guitar
tunings nothwithstanding here and there!) A very fine album in fact.
There are some good songs here but there are also a handful of great
ones. I've always been able to take or leave the band's more ribald
electric offerings and although the opening two tracks 'Discover'
and 'All The Best' certainly demonstrate that there is still life
after middle-age they didn't exactly blow my socks off into the ether.
When we get round to the gloriously rich simplicity of 'Oh My Heart'
and the joyous folksy melancholy of 'It Happened Today', however, we
feel the blood begin to flow more quickly through our veins!
(In Mr Stipes hands even a phrase as potentially lame as "Hip Hip
Hooray" sounds as though it might have a deeper philosophical meaning!)
'Every Day Is Yours To Win' is simply beautiful too. An R.E.M. anthem
to stand shoulder to shoulder with their most memorable inventions.
The final track 'Blue' is a big song. A veritable monolithic stone
ziggurat of a song!Read more ›
The album starts stridently with Discoverer and All The Best (my favourite REM track for years and years) before slowing down into a sumptious middle section. The songs here are all reminiscent of glories past (a touch of Daysleeper here, a touch of Drive there) before revving up again with Mine Smell Like Honey and the silliness of Alligator...(the first irreverent song they've done since Out of Time I reckon) and the Monster-esque That Someone Is You. Like Automatic, they save two pearls for last. Me, Marlon Brando is beautiful - a lovely lilting tune that demands repeat listening. And then the finale. Its a mash-up of E-Bow and Country Feedback. It's called Blue, and it's a magnificent end to a magnificent career. When the chiming guitars that reprise Discoverer come in at the end it brings a lump to my throat every time.
I was looking forward to hearing this live though. Bummer. Maybe the reunion tour in 2015! Here's hoping.
Lastly - thanks REM, you were my Beatles. I'll miss you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The last album from R.E.M - which they announced shortly after its release. Presumably, disappointing album sales forced them to split. I mean, there wasn't even a farewell tour. Read morePublished 8 months ago by 42-39-56
Last album (sob!). 'Routine' by REM standards, but that includes great performances of some good songs. Read morePublished 9 months ago by J. H. Bateman