March 1st is the release date for reissues of R.E.M.’s entire Warner Bros. catalog in deluxe two-disc editions offering loads of previously unavailable material. All nine CD/DVD combos, ‘Green’, ‘Out of Time’, ‘Automatic for the People’, ‘Monster’, ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’, ‘Up’, ‘Reveal’, ‘In Time: The Best of R.E.M. ‘ and ‘Around the Sun’ will be available at all retail outlets and at www.rhino.com for a suggested price of $24.98 each.
Every R.E.M. reissue will consist of the album as it was originally released on one CD, plus a DVD with a 5.1 surround sound version of the album remixed by Grammy winning engineer Elliot Schiener, web links, an expanded booklet that features new liner notes and rarely seen archival photos, documentaries, and much more.
High Fidelity Review has obtained copies of all except one of the aforementioned discs, and we can confirm that the DVD discs are indeed DVD-Audio, with both multichannel and stereo high-resolution tracks, together with backward compatible Dolby Digital and DTS for DVD-Video players.
Note that the discs sent to High Fidelity Review are completed versions and that they are not DualDiscs but ‘Double Discs’, a separate CD and DVD in a gatefold cardboard sleeve (that grips each disc like a vice). The resolutions given below have been obtained by actually playing each disc, rather than being taken from press material etc.
‘Green’ (1989) marked R.E.M.’s Warner Bros. debut and lifted the band to a new level of popularity, thanks to the hits ‘Pop Song ’89’, ‘Stand’ and ‘Orange Crush’. The bonus DVD includes an unreleased documentary video and two live performances from the ‘Tour Film’ DVD. The high-resolution multichannel track is 96kHz 24-bit, while the dedicated stereo track is 192kHz 24-bit.
‘Out of Time’ (1991) continued to broaden R.E.M.’s audience with one of their biggest hit singles, ‘Losing My Religion’ as well as ‘Shiny Happy People’ and ‘Radio Song’. The DVD includes the unreleased ‘Time Piece’ documentary, which mixes band member interviews with commentaries about the songs. This disc is also presented with a 96kHz 24-bit surround mix and dedicated 192kHz 24-bit stereo track.
With ‘Automatic for the People’ (1992), the band achieved their greatest commercial success as well as one of their finest artistic statements. The CD contains the smash ‘Everybody Hurts’ and the audience favorite ‘Man on the Moon’. The DVD features a short film set in Athens, GA, made to support the release, which includes segments showing the band playing portions of songs in the studio. The multichannel track on this disc is 48kHz 24-bit, as is the stereo track.
‘Monster’ (1994) saw the band expanding its sound, creating an album featuring the aggressive rockers ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’ and ‘Star 69’ as well as the delicate ‘Tongue’ and ‘Strange Currencies’. This DVD offers interviews with the band and unreleased live performances of ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’, ‘Let Me In’ and ‘I Don’t Sleep, I Dream’. ‘Monster’ has a 96kHz 24-bit multichannel mix together with a 88.2kHz 24-bit stereo track.
‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’ (1996) showed the band pushing themselves even further artistically, offering a wide range of song styles with tracks like ‘E-bow The Letter’, ‘Leave’, ‘Bittersweet Me’ and ‘Electrolite’, many of which were recorded live at soundchecks on the Monster tour. The DVD features an unreleased video documentary. Both the surround and stereo tracks on this disc are 48kHz 24-bit.
‘Up’ (1998) found the band redefining itself after the departure of drummer Bill Berry. Songs like ‘Daysleeper’, ‘At My Most Beautiful’ and ‘Walk Unafraid’ demonstrated that R.E.M.’s creative juices flowed unabated. The DVD includes extracts from the unreleased film ‘Uptake’, featuring three songs and interview footage. High-resolution audio is 48kHz 24-bit for both stereo and surround mixes.
‘Reveal’s’ (2001) ‘Imitation Of Life’, ‘All The Way To Reno (You’re Gonna Be A Star)’ and ‘She Just Wants To Be’ reflect a mood of contemplation and renewal in the best tradition of R.E.M.’s songwriting. This album’s DVD includes a documentary about the album and the remixed video for ‘I’ll Take The Rain’. The surround track is 96kHz 24-bit as is the stereo track.
‘In Time: The Best of R.E.M.’ (2003) collects the band’s best-loved tunes from the Warner Bros. years, as well as ‘All The Right Friends’ (from the Vanilla Sky soundtrack) and the previously unreleased ‘Bad Day’ and ‘Animal’. The DVD includes the ground-breaking video for ‘Bad Day’ in both the standard version and a multi-angle version shot at rehearsal in Seattle. The surround mix is 96kHz 24-bit and the stereo track 192kHz 24-bit.
‘Around the Sun’ (2004) the band’s latest offering, includes the single ‘Leaving New York’. The DVD includes lyrics, a photo gallery, and unreleased video footage. We were not given a copy of this title so cannot report its resolution.
Taken as a whole, these R.E.M. reissues prove the band to be one of the most artistically challenging of the last 25 years, constantly pushing themselves to grow with each new CD and careful not to repeat themselves, a band with “Drive.”
Thanks to the good folk at Cinram and Warner for our samples.