R.E.M.

R.E.M.

R.E.M. in the Attic: Alternative Recordings 1985-1989

EMI/Capitol

Although the title is actually Essential R.E.M., there is nothing essential about this recording. Perhaps Bill Berry left the band recently because he heard this album and was mortified that someone would put this out and cash in so badly on the R.E.M. days with I.R.S. Records. EMI-Capitol is doing this with other artists as well, so if this album is any indication, steer clear of all of them.

Many of the songs on this album have even been released in some form already: “Toys in the Attic” and “Crazy” were on Dead Letter Office while almost all of the others were either b-sides on other releases or live versions of songs. B-sides collections are very rarely “essential,” as Dead Letter Office indicated.

Plus, the familiar music is simply not good R.E.M. The “Other Mix” of “Finest Worksong”? The regular one was bad enough. A “Radio Edit” of “Can’t Get There From Here”? I’m not sure it ever got played on the radio anyway. The live tracks are often murky, the one song I hadn’t heard before (“Tired of Singing Trouble”) ain’t that impressive, and the accompanying liner notes story even has its share of mistakes.

Don’t waste any money on this shameless ploy — unless upgrading some so-so b-sides to CD from vinyl is high on your priority list.

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