R.E.M. go acoustic for the people for Record Store Day

R.E.M. delivered two knockout performances on MTV’s Grammy and Emmy award-winning Unplugged series, the first in 1991 and the other in 2001, giving them the unique distinction of being the only band to headline the series twice. Surprisingly, audio from both shows has never been available, making these some of the most demanded music in the R.E.M. vaults. That will all change on Record Store Day, April 19th, 2014, when Rhino releases both performances as a limited edition, four LP set. The collection includes every performance from the original broadcasts, as well as 11 songs that never aired, from the storied collection of the band’s MTV appearances.

Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions is packaged in a four-pocket gatefold and will be available exclusively at select independent music retailers on April 19th.

The Unplugged performances are sonic snapshots that capture the band at important points on its journey from alternative-music progenitors to international stars that have sold more than 85 million albums.

Drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and singer Michael Stipe recorded their first Unplugged session in 1991, while riding a growing wave of success that began in 1987 with the commercial breakthrough of Document. Much of the performance spotlights songs from the band’s then-current album Out Of Time, which sold over 18 million copies worldwide and was the band’s first #1 album in the U.S. From the album, the band performed “Radio Song,” “Low” and its biggest American hit, “Losing My Religion.”

The remainder of the set list spans eight years of music and touches on five different albums, mixing “Perfect Circle” from R.E.M.’s 1983 debut Murmur and fan-favorites like “Fall On Me” and “Its The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” with a cover of The Troggs’ “Love Is All Around.” Five songs that never aired can be heard on this set for the first time, including two tracks from the multi-platinum Green – “Get Up” and “World Leader Pretend.”

R.E.M. made an extremely rare second appearance on Unplugged in 2001, but this time without original drummer Bill Berry, who left the band in 1997. For the show, the band focused mainly on its 12th studio album Reveal – which came out that year – with performances of the singles “Imitation of Life” and “All The Way To Reno (You’re Gonna Be A Star).” The song selection draws from eight different albums with “So. Central Rain” from 1984’s Reckoning, “Cuyahoga” from 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant and “Find The River,” the elegiac album closer from the 1992 classic Automatic For The People.

This collection uncovers six songs from the session that were never broadcast, including tracks from Reveal and Up (1998), as well as a haunting and tranquil re-imagination of the band’s breakthrough single, “The One I Love” from 1987’s Document.

Following their debut on vinyl for Record Store Day 2014, both Unplugged performances will be released on CD and digitally on May 20th.

Always advocates for independent record stores, on April 19th (Record Store Day), R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills will be signing copies of the limited-edition, four-LP set at Bull Moose record store in Scarborough, Maine.

Since its debut in 1989, “Unplugged” has been a cultural watershed of musical moments, featuring unforgettable performances from artists including Nirvana, Jay-Z, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry, Lil Wayne, Adele, Florence The Machine and Miley Cyrus. Unplugged was created by Robert Small and Jim Burns and produced by Alex Coletti.

2 CD4 LP

1991 Unplugged

Disc 1 / Side 1:

1. “Half A World Away”
2. “Disturbance at the Heron House”
3. “Radio Song”
4. “Low”

Disc 1 / Side 2:
1. “Perfect Circle”
2. “Fall on Me”
3. “Belong”
4. “Love Is All Around”

Disc 2 / Side 3:
1. “Its The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”
2. “Losing My Religion”
3. “Pop Song 89”
4. “Endgame”

Disc 2 / Side 4:
1. “Fretless”*
2. “Swan Swan H”*
3. “Rotary 11”*
4. “Get Up”*
5. “World Leader Pretend”*

2001 Unplugged

Disc 3 / Side 5:
1. “All The Way To Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star)”
2. “Electrolite”
3. “At My Most Beautiful”
4. “Daysleeper”

Disc 3 / Side 6:
1. “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”
2. “Losing My Religion”
3. “Country Feedback”
4. “Cuyahoga”

Disc 4 / Side 7:
1. “Imitation of Life”
2. “Find the River”
3. “The One I Love”*
4. “Disappear”*

Disc 4 / Side 8:
1. “Beat a Drum”*
2. “I’ve Been High”*
3. “I’ll Take the Rain”*
4. “Sad Professor”*

* Not included in original television broadcast

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.