R.E.M- Lifes Rich Pageant: 25th Anniversary Edition
by Lauren Moquin (Journalism), published July 13th 2011
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Deluxe editions just sound like an easy way to yank money out of your pocket most of the time, but I can assure even the thriftiest music fans that R.E.M reissued an album worth dusting off your wallet for. The two-disk package is complete with a re-mastered version of Lifes Rich Pageant and nineteen demos recorded in 1986. Although one might not think twenty dollars is worth it for a re-mastered version of an album that they already own, the demos cure a curiosity and create an original R.E.M. listening experience. These demos unveil a character to songs that span R.E.M.’s early years and are essentially what makes this release so special.
Listening to the band feel their way around the sound is endearing, but eerie in a way. There is something that seems sacred about tracks that have been kept hidden away for fifteen years. The opportunity to hear Michael Stipe (vocalist) hum his way through a melody in ‘I Believe’ and the raw, delicate introduction to ‘The Flowers of Guatemala’ are privileges. If one were not very familiar with R.E.M.’s early career, they might even think these were final cuts. Although there are a couple quirky aspects to the demos, they are just different instrumentations of the final recorded songs. It is puzzling how the songs evolved into their finished states because these demos sound fairly polished and make for pleasingly warm melodies. Both the demos and the final recorded versions are something to treasure, but the demos are just too intimate and special to miss.
Recommended Tracks: The Flowers of Guatemala, I Believe, Cuyahoga