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Oh My Heart and B-Sides for Mine Smell Like Honey

Before I start pontificating about the new song(s) that were discovered on the world wide web today I thought I would offer them here for all my web viewing friends the links to those songs.
 
First, it's NPR's All Songs Considered which provided a nice stream of 'Oh My Heart' the latest song to make it into public viewing from 'Collapse Into Now'.
 
Second, it would be a nice 30 second sample of the first single from the album, Mine Smell Like Honey, which can be found on Amazon.
 
Third, it would be the first b-sides from Mine Smell Like Honey that can be found on Noi Tanmer (REM Nation backwards) which happen to be 'A Town Called Armadillo' and 'Zullu'. (Hat Tip to Chris Sikich).
 
UPDATE: The B-Sides claimed in this post turned out to be a hoax. My apologizes for this unacceptable error.

Studio 360's discusses 'Radio Free Europe'

A couple months ago, the song Radio Free Europe was chosen by the National Recording Preservation Board to be put into a vat of vinegar and preserved so that generations and generations after our own can still enjoy this awesome song.  From the amount that I have followed the National Preservation Board, they try to capture various elements of our culture that have made an impact, which is not always by the number of units that were sold but the changes they invoked.
 
Studio 360 put up a small podcast regarding the song and to be honest their fact-checking left much to be desired. One, Mike Henry, who stated he was a station manager at a radio station in Athens that helped make Radio Free Europe popular discussed a meetup between himself and Jefferson at one of R.E.M.'s first club gigs ever. Of course there are a couple inaccuracies with this story. First off, Jefferson did not meet R.E.M. until three months after their formation and was not their manager until almost a year after they had formed. Secondly, the song that was played on the website was not from one of the initial gigs of the band but rather from April 10, 1981 and by this time they had played Tyrones on a host of evenings.
 
10 April 1981 - Tyrone's O.C., Athens, GA
set 1: Rave On / Burning Down / A Girl Like You / Get On Their Way / There She Goes Again / Pretty Persuasion / Body Count / Different Girl / Action / Narrator / Hey Hey Nadine / Baby I / Permanent Vacation
set 2: Radio Free Europe / Sitting Still / Dangerous Times / All The Right Friends / Shaking Through / Little Girl / (Don't Go Back To) Rockville / Windout / Gardening At Night / Wait (w/Lynda & Cyndi Stipe) / Schéhérazade / Lisa Says / Mystery To Me
encore: White Tornado

R.E.M.'s Performance on Austin City Limits to Be Released

Admittedly, I find myself reflecting too much on my younger days with R.E.M. which is why I write this.
 
Over the past 100 years, R.E.M. has only been a band for about 30 of those years and in those 30 years they spent the last 10 years on a treadmill. Yes, I can understand there are a few of you out there that like Reveal and Accelerate is a good record for a mid-level band but not R.E.M.  So when a DVD is going to be released which is going to focus on music in their last album, it’s not something that I immediately jump up and purchase.
 
For those that are not aware, a DVD of R.E.M.'s performance on Austin City Limits, will be released on October 26, 2010. This performance was taken during a point when R.E.M. was “at a pivotal point in their career” says ACL producer Terry Licona.
 
You can say that again.
 
The problem with albums like Accelerate is that they are easily forgettable amongst the vast 30 year history of the band. So getting another “Concert Video” from them during this period almost feels like burnout. Out of the 17 songs, 9 of them are off Accelerate and the rest are constant reminders of their concert setlists for the past 10 years or so.  I watched it initially but found the entire endeavor slightly boring.
 
Moreover, video, at least for R.E.M. works so much better when it is archival footage. We have so much video of Post-Berry R.E.M., which occurred right around the dawn of the internet age that one would almost forget that he was a bandmember. Right now, that early footage feels so much different than the “R.E.M. by Numbers” videos that we have seen, although the Olympia Video was quite nice for it’s artistic merit and the entire collection was a much more worthy venture considering that they included every unique song title that was played on their 5 day “This Is Not A Show” Show.
 
Now of course, I should not be so hard on the band as I would imagine that this DVD is being pushed more by, Austin City Limits, a reputable public television enterprise here in the states. However, being that I am a subscriber to PBS currently, shouldn’t I get my free DVD and tote bag?
 
In an era where we are inundated with information and can go to YouTube to pleasure ourselves, bands have to consistently be reminded that you cannot just put out crap and expect the people to buy it. I am curious if they are going to try to pawn this show off during one of their PBS fundraising pushes considering that this is going to be broadcast on November 27th, which I suspect to be when they do a fundraising drive. There is part of me that would find the sales pitch made by the PBS announcers amusing.
 
This will not stop me from making a yearly subscription to PBS, because it’s viewers like me that appreciate quality programming such as the program that I am currently watching.
 

Exclusive Tracks Hit the Web Continued

Although I think I posted this to the REMRing Facebook page already I have not posted it here. Here is an exclusive listen to "Throw Those Trolls Away", the previously unreleased R.E.M. song that will appear on the 25th Anniversary version of Fables of the Reconstruction.
 
Throw Those Trolls Away - Metromix
 
For those of you that have been collecting bootlegs for awhile you will know that this would appear to be a separate song that eventually morphed itself into "I Believe" which ended up on Lifes Rich Pageant.
 
My feeling is that this would be the track that the diehards will love to have, getting a nice clean copy of a song that was played very briefly on the tour and then scrapped. But it also shows the band again taking a piece of work and not being completely satisfied with the work and moving onto something bigger and brighter with "I Believe".
 
One of my fears with the 2nd Disc that is contained in the Fables Demos is that the songs will already have progressed to a point where they are not significant enough to notice any distinct changes. That being said, as a whole, I have typically enjoyed some of the latter demos that have surfaced in trading circles such as the ones of Document, Green, Out of Time and Up because we have been able to hear the songs at a much earlier point in the songs lifespan.
 
I think my review for the Fables 2 CD package will be based primarily off the differences between the demos and Joe Boyd's production work on the album.
 
At any rate, "Don't Be a Loser" and check it out!
 

Exclusive Fables Tracks hit the Web

As many are well aware the 25th Anniversary of Fables of the Reconstruction is going to be released in July and already a couple tracks have hit the internet. The all-important tracks of course is the second disc which consists of demos of Fables tracks the band recorded in Athens before departing for England to record the album with Joe Boyd.
 
As you would expect the early tracks are in some cases a bit more rough around the edges but not so rough as to be completely unique to the finished Fables album. Many of the Fables tracks had been performed live and had become staples of their set up to this point. So where the differences I would expect would lie would be on those tracks which are still in their developmental stages.
 
So far a couple tracks have made their way online.
 
Auctioneer (Another Engine) - Consequence of Sound
 
At this point my favorite of the Fables demos although I cannot put my finger on why I appreciate the track so much. It has a much different feel than the version on the album which is almost R.E.M. turning the song into a punk hit.
 
Can't Get There From Here - Entertainment Weekly
 
I have appreciated the southern drawl of Michael's voice, however, the song is still in its early stages. I think this is one song that has always felt a bit "Dated" to me on Fables, so this version might be something that I could appreciate.
 
Driver 8 - Rolling Stone
 
Unfortunately, for the Fables tracks this happens to be the one track that entered the live sets pretty early on the live shows supporting Reckoning. Thus, the song feels pretty finished by the time this "Demo" is released.
 
Old Man Kensey - Fashion.ie
 
(At this point, the track that is listed is the studio version of Old Man Kensey however, if someone catches their mistake they might correct it. The flub however, is nice to see because it reminds me back to the bootleg days when shows and songs on 'Official' Bootlegs would be mislabled, sometimes on purpose. I wonder if this is the case here!)
 
 

Fables of the Reconstruction 25th Anniversary Release Information

I will admit to listening to Fables a couple times today with the announcement of the Fables reissue. Of course, I have some feelings regarding this announcement and the subsequent “Extra Material” that is on the second disc.  However, for the time being we can contemplate the release.
 
The album, due out on July 13th will offer both the original remastered album plus a second CD of Demos that were recorded in Athens prior to their recording sessions in England with Joe Boyd.
 
 
CD1 (original album):
 
'Feeling Gravity's Pull'
'Maps and Legends'
'Driver 8'
'Life And How To Live It'
'Old Man Kensey'
'Can't Get There From Here'
'Green Grow The Rushes'
'Kohoutek'
'Auctioneer (Another Engine)'
'Good Advices'
'Wendell Gee'
 
CD2 (The Athens Demos):
 
'Auctioneer (Another Engine)'
'Bandwagon'
'Can't Get There From Here'
'Driver 8'
'Feeling Gravity's Pull'
'Good Advices'
'Green Grow The Rushes'
'Hyena'
'Kohoutek'
'Life And How To Live It'
'Maps and Legends'
'Old Man Kensey'
'Throw Those Trolls Away'
'Wendell Gee'

 

The Method Actors - This Is Still It

In my spare time I have been spending time on a comprehensive piece on the Athens Scene in terms of R.E.M. As of course, I have such a detailed history of being down there. . .
 
(insert laugh track here)
 
However, when albums such as this pop out of the woodwork they do need some extra listening.
 
The Method Actors to me were just a name. I had never been able to spend any time actually listening to their music at any real depth and so this album's release came with a bit of apprehension. Am I just buying this album because they came from Athens? My answer to that was 'Yes'. In fact, I failed to read any reviews on it but based my knowledge on the fact that Pylon has posted it on their Facebook fan page.

And getting back to the R.E.M. piece I was writing earlier on their 30th Anniversary gave me a second reason to purchase it. I concluded the purchase was for “Research” which I have now decided is an apt reason to purchase any music whatsoever. 

(Not that this has ever been a problem with my own wife as she has always encouraged me to write, write and write some more but for those of you out in the real world looking for a way to purchase more music, what better than to start a blog and tell your significant other that the purchases are blog expenses.)
 
Of course this is what happens to music. It is born and has a day and a life whereby it fulfills our fantasies and then we move onto the next one. For these songs they were trapped in time and once again released to a different time and audience. The Method Actors have been trapped in a vacuum waiting for the perfect moment to put their name in the news again. 

 
The Method Actors were a duo consisting of Vic Varney on Guitar and David Gamble on drums. Their sound, however, is in no way minimalist in nature as what they are able to accomplish as a two-piece will astound the listener. 
 

What of course has shocked me from this purchase was that the music was surprisingly good. The list of names that they put together regarding the Athens scene is not just an overblown pile of trash. As I read off the name “Method Actors” they will be firmly supplanted as one of the true treasures of the Post-Punk movement.
 
It would appear that both Drowned In Sound and Pitchfork would agree.
 
But in terms of their sound compared to R.E.M., I see that they are much more of an influence especially guitarwise as Peter Buck admits in the liner notes.
 
The Athens music scene was very vibrant in the late 70s early 80s. Everybody is familiar with the B-52s and REM and to a lesser extent Pylon and Love Tractor, but one of my favorite bands and most innovative was the Method Actors, a band that I must have seen play 100 times.
 
To me the Method Actors really had it all. Their unique two-man lineup, guitar and drums (both sang—weirdly, marvelously), was unheard of at the time. David Gamble used thunderstick that must have weighed at least a pound each, had the deepest voice I ever heard and looked like a brick shithouse version of Jeff Chandler in boxer shorts; Vic looked like a cigarette with a guitar. Anyone who has seen the White Stripes knows how much can be gotten out of that configuration but at the time it was considered strange and extreme. They were incredibly prolific, with new songs every time you saw them, single releases, European EPs, and new albums consistently.
 
They were a propulsive live band with a full sound that belied the two-man lineup. And in Vic Varney they had an extremely talented guitar player who rewrote the rules on rhythm guitar, at least as far as I was concerned. I stood in front of Vic night after night watching his hands and trying to figure out how he did what he did. In his use of drum notes, broken chords, modal harmonies, and dissonant rhythms, he created a template for some of the things I did later with my band.
 
These records have been out of print for a very long time. I recently rediscovered them on vinyl and was surprised to see how much of an influence Vic had cast on my playing. I’m extremely happy to finally see these records back in print. They amount to a kind of secret history of the Athens scene and their re-release is something to be treasured. Maybe this release will be a good introduction to the career of Vic Varney, who is still making great records 25 years later. - Peter Buck
 
Ok, so Peter Buck is a fan. Why should you be a fan? When I hear the first track “Do the Method”, it brings upon all the elements of what I would expect out of the early Athens Dance scene.
 
In fact, if I was not denied entry of a certain club in Chicago on the night of my Bachelor party, that plays retro 80s music on Thursday night, I would argue that they could just play this album straight through and it would be a rip roaring event.
 
As you scan through the album on first listen, however, you will notice a plethora of sounds that are not just lined with hooks. We do hear some of the more artsier moments of the Athens scene. ‘You’ slightly danceable awkwardness reminds me more of a band like Pylon.

 
'Rang-A-Tang' sounds like a song that should have been placed on a John Hughes movie from the 80s. Most definitely the most poppy track on the album, the part of the song is pop bliss before Varney goes into a David Byrne-spiel halfway through before the songs is brought back to form.
 
This 19 track album is full of other surprises, as pscychaedelica makes it’s appearance later on.  On tracks such as ‘Pigeons’, the longest track clocking in at 6:55 that take you back to the late acid rock bands of the 60’s with little vocals and Varney but his rhythm guitar and the persistent drumming of Gamble. 
 
Point being, you should not just get this because it’s from Athens, nor because Peter Buck likes it but rather this is genuinely great music that if you appreciate this scene will no doubt be listing this among the better re-released albums of the year.
 
 

Everybody Spends Money For Haiti Relief

It would appear that the Simon Cowell-Produced ‘Everybody Hurts’ has been a hit. The 453,000 copies of this single that were sold in the first week in the UK set a record.
 
For those fans out there very much upset about this, the entire single, etc. I just hope that you hang in there. All I can say is that everybody hurts. Everybody cries sometimes. So just hold on. That’s what I said, hold on.

 

NPR Streaming Live R.E.M. Album - Early Review

If there is any good reason to give money to a legitimate media source, NPR should be your choice. On top of being impressive on the news circuit, currently they are also streaming, R.E.M. Live At The Olympia.
 
For the past 15 years or so, R.E.M.'s willingness to dig deep in their catalog could be aptly compared to being shackled to your bed while your partner tortures you...sexually of course. Their live setlists often feature the songs at the shows you don't attend and jealousy persists when they talk about their former lovers (setlists of prior years). Of course, if the band chose to perform such an act it would result in premature ejaculation on your part which would offer no satisfaction to the band. In this release, the shackles are removed and we are graced with an amazing release.
 
As I have been listening to this album, I am finding very little wrong with it so far. The small errors in the performances give the album some heart, reminding listeners that in the early days, R.E.M. was not about precision but reckless abandon, while the "Whirling Dervish" Michael Stipe would parade onstage.  While Stipe is not the W. Dervish that he once was, the band does give listeners a glimpse into soundtracks of the misfits of Generation X. Sure, they are not the band from 1983, but the songs are not treated as some prepackaged tchotchke from China. They do not sound overly rehearsed but very fresh and unique. 
 

Pylon Rereleases 'Chomp'

 

Let's just say that before Michael Stipe and R.E.M. formed, he felt a need to ask Vanessa Briscoe Hay, her permission to start up a band. This was probably in part due to Michael's being uber shy and secondly, his admiration for this fellow Athenian band.

Pylon has achieved cult status amongst music fans and this rerelease is a must. Chomp is now available both on CD as well as digitally.  It is also the album that 'Crazy', a song that R.E.M. covered ended up appearing on. Check out Athensmusic.net to purchase or you can also get it at Itunes.

 

 

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