Audiofile Quality

Too clever by half.

I am the crow of desperation
I will effect your validation
I spin relentless variation
I scramble in the dust of a failing nation
I was concealed
Now I am stirring
And I have waited for this time.
The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
I remember King David,
With his harp
And his beautiful, beautiful songs;
I answered his prayers,
And showed him a place
Where his music belongs

It's not too far from here;
Come get up off your knees
If you're looking for ways to please...

Sing me no psalm;
You're not King David.
Sing me no high,
Hushed Glory Be:
Sing it to one,
One of the broken
And brother you're singing,
Singing to me

Sing me no deep
Hymn of devotion;
Sing me no slow
Sweet melody:
Sing it to one,
One of the broken--
And brother you're singing,
Singing to me.
Act Now!
Monday, July 31, 2006
I often call R.E.M my "spirit band", because I can map more than a decade of my life by which of their albums I was playing ten times a week. I wasn't hip enough to catch them in the days of Chronic Town, though I have a dear friend who saw them in those early days. I caught "Radio Free Europe", their first Hit Single, in the early days of MTV without being especially impressed; but I became a fan when my best friend in high school sent his copy of Murmur home with me so I could add "Talk About the Passion" to a compilation tape he was working on.

There's no chance I'll refrain from posting a great deal more about R.E.M. in times to come, but my purpose here is to alert anyone who might care to the posting of 6 live tracks from 1985. The files are 128 kb "audiofile quality", but I like what I'm hearing right now. (Of course, I am additionally biased by having seen the same tour in my hometown exactly 5 months later. It was the fifth anniversary of the death of John Lennon...but that's another story altogether.) The songs have been posted at The Smudge of Ashen Fluff, a very fine resource for music writing as well as files. I will note that they very responsibly remove files in just a few days, so Act Now... I will also note that googling "werchter R.E.M. 1985" may yield clues as to other, even more complete recordings; let me know if you've got them yourself, because I'm lazy.

From quick research I learned that headliners U2 played to 60,000 people at that year's Festival, though I expect the R.E.M. crowd was somewhat smaller. I was amused to discover that Lloyd Cole and the Commotions played that year. I could have seen the two bands I listened to most in college on the same stage--if only I'd gone to Belgium. Google didn't find me any cool pictures from Werchter, but I did find a couple of good 1985 images. Hooray for obsessives! (I like my iTunes to have pretty pictures whenever possible.)

So yeah, get your ears around this vintage performance. These are the days when Stipe still had floppy hair and a tendency to hide behind it; he's a little uncertain wrapping his voice around some of the songs (they did an insane number of shows that year), but you can already hear them evolving beyond the much-vaunted "jangle" that they carried out of Athens.

And for any who've followed this ramble, here's a couple teasers from my modest stock of rarities: the song that made me Talk about the Passion (from a 1984 radio gig; collected on a great blog that doesn't seem to have archived the post), and a song they generally refused to play on the 1985 tour--after the dude in the dozenth row yelped "Radio Free Europe!" about eight times times at the show I saw, Stipe finally looked right at him and said flatly "We're not going to play that song. I hate that song." Apparently he learned to live with it; the recording I have is probably from 1992 and may be from the 40-Watt Club (bootlegs don't carry the kind of detail I go for), and Stipe was quite emphatic (and clearly sincere) in saying it was "a privilege" to play the song for the last crowd I saw the band among (2004, outdoors & pissing rain; but that's another story altogether again).
posted by Rah @ 8:48 PM  
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