R.E.M. is almost the forgotten superstar rock group. From their peak in the early 1990s, playing to sold-out stadiums, to their quiet dissolution, it seems like their fans have not had a lot in the way of new product to enjoy of late. That all changes with the release of R.E.M. at The BBC. This weekend’s first BIG TICKET DAY entry in The 2018 PopCult Gift Guide is an eight CD, one DVD set that delivers many previously unreleased recordings to the die-hard fans of Athen’s, Georgia’s favorite sons.
In the U.S., R.E.M. came to attention in the early ’80’s and developed a fanbase around the band’s relentless touring schedule and college radio airplay a uniquely American network of local radio stations playing ‘alternative’ music. The band s emergence in Europe also stemmed around their live forays in England, France, the Netherlands and Germany starting in ’83. From this time, the BBC embraced the band not only with airplay, but also with interviews, TV appearances and in-studio sessions. This strong bind between R.E.M. and the BBC throughout the band s career is celebrated here.
R.E.M. grew up with the BBC, and this historic relationship is lovingly celebrated across an incredible collection that beautifully illustrates the career trajectory of one of modern music’s greatest bands. The collection—available as a super-deluxe edition 8-CD/1-DVD box set, as well as 2-CD, 2-LP and digital formats—comprises a treasure trove of rare and unreleased live and studio recordings culled from the BBC and band archives. This is a must-have collection for R.E.M. fans and an authoritative introduction for newcomers. You’ll find plenty of alternative recordings of the band’s greatest songs, plus unusual covers as diverse as ‘Moon River” and Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”
In-studio performances featured in the 8-CD/1-DVD box set include a John Peel Session (1998), Drivetime and Mark and Lard appearances (2003) and a glorious Radio 1 Live Lounge performance (2008). Live broadcasts include a rough-and-tumble show from Nottingham’s Rock City (1984), the stunning 1995 Milton Keynes Monster Tour (their first after a six-year break), a blistering 1999 Glastonbury headline set and an invitation-only 2004 show at London’s St James’s Church.
The DVD kicks off with a sixty-minute intimate retrospective of the band’s legendary performances at the BBC in the Accelerating Backwards film – previously broadcast only in the UK and available commercially for the first time here. Accelerating Backwards also includes revealing interviews with Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, further testifying to R.E.M.’s long, special relationship with the BBC. The DVD also offers a complete 1998 Later….With Jools Holland episode uniquely dedicated to the band, plus TV appearances on Top of the Pops and more.
The package liner notes add yet more behind-the-scenes insight to this definitive retrospective collection. Assorted BBC personalities reminiscence about what it was like to work with R.E.M both on stage and off. Respected BBC DJ/Presenter Jo Whiley recalls, “Their Glastonbury performance in 1999 was a dazzling moment: the band storming through an all-killer, no-filler setlist. As a headline performance, it was a triumph and, for me, it’s up there as one of the Glastonbury greats.” Of a 2001 Top of the Pops performance, BBC Producer Mark Hagen muses, “”Michael once told me that he hears in colors and it was one of those nights when you felt that you could reach out and touch the music as it flowed through the air, a glorious rolling cloud of green. Just like a kudzu vine in a dream.” Acclaimed rock journalist Tom Doyle also provides an overview of the entire thirty-year period.
In addition to the comprehensive box set, The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC is also available abridged via 2-CD and 2-LP formats. R.E.M. has had a special connection to West Virginia since their amazing 1991 performance on Mountain Stage, and this is a great “big” gift for their loyal fans. You can find it where ever CDs are sold, or order it from Amazon, where it’ll run you just under seventy bucks.
Check out the trailer here…