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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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When R.E.M. recorded the first of their two MTV Unplugged sessions, in 1991, they were well on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world, helped by the success of that year's album, Out of Time, and the single "Losing My Religion". And with the group deciding not to tour the album, this MTV performance, along with a few low scale gigs, did the job for them.

Fast forward ten years, and the first cracks were beginning to show. Although their popularity in the US was declining, they were still a headline act in Europe and that years album, Reveal, gained pretty decent reviews. But it was a fairly downward curve from there on, ending with the three surviving members calling it a day in 2011.

Rewinding back, the 1991 session is understandably heavily dominated by Out of Time. Since it had a very acoustic feel, the songs need few adjustments to adapt them to the Unplugged format. Also scattered throughout the set are some older favourites, such as "Perfect Circle", "Fall on Me" and the Troggs' "Love Is All Around".

The 2001 session draws on a generous selection from Reveal, but there's also a good number of older songs. "Country Feedback" from Out of Time, a strange omission from the 1991 session, is a particular highlight here and it's also interesting to see that this isn't a particularly hit-packed play-list. Some of the more familiar songs from the R.E.M. back catalogue, such as "Man on the Moon" and "Everybody Hurts", are omitted - in favour of more obscure fare, such as "Cuyahoga" from the 1986 album Lifes Rich Pageant.

Although far from an essential release, R.E.M. Unplugged is a decent snapshot of the band at two very different times in their career. A third disc, with the MTV performances on DVD, is a surprising omission - but this double CD is still well worth a listen.
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on 22 May 2014
Would have liked this on vinyl from Record Store Day but at £488 less than the vinyl is for sale for on Amazon this CD is an acceptable alternative. Also at 70g the Digipack is a lot lighter than the 800g+ vinyl.

At nearly 70 minutes per disc each concert flows seamlessly from one great song to another, although its FALL ON ME from the 1991 concert that I keep coming back to.

As an acoustic record of a sample of their electric output this is nice to have and credit to the record company for releasing this as a CD and not just keeping it to the 'fans' who snapped up the vinyl on 19th April and then mostly sold it on ebay!

Update 15th June. Have found out that REM have posted on their Facebook page that due to demand they are working on releasing this Unplugged set on TWO vinyl sets, one double album each for 1991 and 2001 so good news for those of us who would have liked this music on vinyl albeit the RSD issue was one release of 4 albums which today is for sale on Amazon for £1,000!
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on 8 July 2014
This is in "What's not to like?" territory for REM fans: 2 full CDs of live acoustic arrangements of a good selection of their songs, both sets leaning towards their then-current material but with some nice tips of the hat to older material (including some personal favourites such as Perfect Circle, Swan, SwanH, Cuyahoga and So. Central Rain).
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on 2 July 2014
Didn't catch these performances on MTV, so new to my ears. Enjoyed the range of songs across the 10 year difference. Two or three of my personal faves were not performed, but maybe they were too close to unplugged in their original arrangements to afford much change in this format. Conversely, didn't feel they made any great changes to what they did perform. (Having said that must admit to a lack of familiarity with some of the tracks on the second disc). So, not quite an essential purchase for those unfamiliar with the band, but the relaxed setting does mark a change of pace for those of us who go back a few years.
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on 28 May 2014
I had the original MTV Unplugged on tape back in the 90's and I loved it.
Unfortunately, I loaned it to someone and never got it back.

This is better.
It has the original 1991 unplugged and the 2001 update giving you some of the newer REM tracks in acoustic format.

I loved the original but I love this one even more

A must-have for any REM fan

Now bring out the DVD please
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on 24 October 2015
I think this is one of the best albums I have of REM'S, and I have them all. I am a fan and I was blown away by the wonderful live sounds. cd1 is a live recording 1991 I believe, and its my favourite. I love the slow accoustic version of The One I Love and I never would have thought it. cd2 is just as good with many of their best songs from 2001 onwards. This version of Country Feedback is brilliant. At the end Michael continues the song with the same music singing part of Bob Dylan's 'How does it feel (rolling stone). Its sounds amazing! I'm a Bob Dylan fan too and to be honest I hate it when someone else sings a Dylan song because they kill it, but this sounded right, like I said, amazing. I'd recommend this album to anyone. Its live, almost a jam, without any mistakes. I can't stop listening to it!
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on 3 September 2014
Well, it's a tough call, but you know how it is. On the first disc, they rule the world through the power of the mandolin, and it's worth five stars. The second disc is just tired, and deserves only two. The 1991 disc I have had on bootleg since 1993 when I found it in the UK, and it's been on rotation ever since. I have also several other boots from that same 1991 era of shows, including perfect performances from the UK together with Mr Bragg, who's got more funny jokes to tell than my uncle. This version of the 1991 show has the clear edge for being of such high sound quality. "Fall on Me" kills me every time. I think I only bought it for the sound quality of the 1991 one, which I knew must be awesome. The 2001 one I could just throw away.
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on 25 April 2016
I am a big fan of REM, however didn't know what to expect from this album unplugged. However I shoud'nt have worried, it is an excellent album played in the raw as it says unplugged and the sound is terrific.
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on 5 August 2014
Two great performances with a range of material from their 80s, 90s and early noughties output. A really enjoyable listen.

Such a shame though that they did not take the opportunity to include the DVD - would have been great to watch. But still five stars as each and every song is a joy to listen to unplugged - 'Up' tracks especially sound significantly better.
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on 14 August 2015
I was working for HMV Trocadero in London when Out Of Time came out. We heard about the secret gigs at The Borderline as Bingo Hand Job, there was such a reverential, special buzz going around about them, but I didn't go. Yeah, That still hurts.
So when they did Unplugged that same year, it was like a little treat. I video'd the broadcast and watched it endlessly. By this time I was in full-on man crush mode for Stipe, I loved his style and attitude and he has SUCH a beautiful voice. The version of Perfect Circle is wonderful, although the backing vocals are a little shakey! The rest of the 1991 is imperfect, which I think adds to the joy of it. Fall On Me in particular is heart-lifting.
By 2001 REM had weathered the storm of 10 years of intense fame, and it shows, they are more assured, polished and perfect, and for me, the less for it. However its still a stellar performance.
This CD makes me long to see them again. But as I tell anyone, I truly hope they never break the spell, and reform. Leave it there folks.
Highly recommended.
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