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R.E.M.’s R.E.M. Live

After 27 years of music, this is a first for R.E.M.: a live album. Included are 22 tracks (two CDs) recorded at Dublin, Ireland’s The Point theater during a 2005 world tour. The discs are disproportionate in length; apparently, disc one is the main set, while disc two offers the encores. To longtime fans, it will come as no surprise that the post-punk pioneers’ stage sound is still as tense and mesmerizing as it was in the early ‘80s. These guys came to fame reluctantly, to say the least, and they’re uncompromising where their music is concerned. So, don’t expect to find a greatest-hits package, or even necessarily all of your fave R.E.M. tunes. Instead, there’s an assortment of popular and lesser-known tracks from various periods in the band’s long career, including early songs such as “Cuyahoga” and “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” There’s also a surprisingly powerful version of “Man on the Moon.”

R.E.M. Live also includes a performance DVD produced by Emer Patten and directed by Blue Leach. This is a highly stylized affair where the same performances on the CDs are treated with color and edits inspired by the band’s stage lighting, and by Michael Stipe’s intense stage presence. Together, the three discs form a wonderfully dark, high-brow rock ’n’ roll package that should tide folks over till R.E.M. releases their next studio album in spring 2008.

Must Play: “Man on the Moon”

Producer: Emer Patten. Front-of-house engineer/audio remix engineer: Brett Eliason. Dubbing mixer: David Woolley. Studio: The Production Depot (Dublin).
Barbara Schultz