R.E.M. finds environmental and fiscal ‘green’ with sixth studio album

R.E.M. achieved global success with the 1988 release of Green. The Athens, Ga., quartet’s sixth studio album was their first for Warner Bros. Records, which would be the band’s label for the rest of the outfit’s recording career. R.E.M. was already becoming one of the “most acclaimed and revered acts” in the U.S., but Green was the album that brought them global attention in terms of sales and worldwide concert sellouts. The LP was packed with tracks that were soon to become signature classics including ‘Orange Crush,’ ‘Pop Song 89,’ and ‘Stand.’ Green was certified double-platinum and doubled the domestic sales of the band s previous release, 1987’s Document.

It took R.E.M. several years to break into the upper echelon of the pop and rock charts, but the group enjoyed a cult following after the release of their 1982 debut EP, Chronic Town. The first-time effort introduced the “haunting folk and garage rock that became the band's signature sound,” and by the late '80s, R.E.M.’s fan base had grown large enough to guarantee strong sales. In 1987, the Top 10 success of Document and its Top 10 single, ‘The One I Love,’ marked the end of R.E.M.’s contract with IRS Records. The band signed to Warner Bros. and released Green in 1988.

The album continued R.E.M.’s dedication to the message of social consciousness. In fact, the album title became an all-encompassing buzzword for environmentally friendly initiatives. A reissue of Rhino Records’ 25th anniversary edition of Green is available as a two-disc deluxe edition that features the remastered original album accompanied by a disc of live performances taken from the 130-date Green World Tour. All 21 songs on the Green: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition track list were recorded in Greensboro, N.C., on November 10, 1989, just miles from where the band had its first recording session at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In Studio in Winston-Salem.

The concert CD captures a “fiery set” from R.E.M. in a performance that was “forged in the crucible of nearly one year of shows.” R.E.M. performed most of the songs from Green including the aforementioned smash hits ‘Orange Crush’ and ‘Stand.’ Both singles topped the alternative and mainstream rock charts, while ‘Stand’ also reached the Top 10 (No. 6) of the Billboard Hot 100. Early favorites such as ‘Fall On Me,’ ‘Finest Worksong,’ ‘The One I Love,’ and ‘Perfect Circle’ are also included in the live set along with new songs ‘Low’ and ‘Belong,’ which would appear two years later on Out Of Time.

The anniversary set is packaged in a hard clamshell box that also contains four postcards, foldout poster, and liner notes by Allan Jones—editor of the U.K.-based music magazine “Uncut.” Green: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is available as a two-CD set, digitally, and on 180-gram vinyl with original art and packaging. A world tour in support of Green was followed by a six-year break from touring, allowing R.E.M. to focus on recording its most popular records: Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992). It all came to an end in September 2011 when the band announced its amicable breakup after 31 years together.

Watch the official music video for R.E.M.’s ‘Stand’ from the band’s sixth studio album Green.

As A Matter of Fact…

* R.E.M. formed in Athens, Ga., during 1980. Mike Mills (bass) and Bill Berry (drums) were the group’s only Southerners, attending high school together in Macon, Ga., and playing in a number of bands as teenagers.

* Vocalist Michael Stipe was a military brat who lived all over the country. He discovered punk rock by listening to Patti Smith, Television, and Wire, spending his teen years playing in cover bands around St. Louis.

* In 1978, Stipe was studying art at the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., where he began often frequented a record store and became friends with store clerk and guitarist, Peter Buck. Buck was a fanatical record collector, listening to everything from classic rock to punk and free jazz.

* Stipe and Buck began working together and eventually met Berry and Mills. In April 1980, the four young musicians prepared to play at a friend’s party under the name of Twisted Kites. The band later changed its name to R.E.M. after leafing through a dictionary.

* R.E.M. toured throughout the South for the next 18 months, playing a variety of garage rock covers and folk-rock originals. During the summer of 1981, R.E.M.’s debut single, ‘Radio Free Europe,’ was released on indie label Hib-Tone. The song’s popularity on college radio led to topping the Village Voice's Best Independent Singles poll.

* ‘Radio Free Europe’ caught the attention of larger independent imprint, IRS Records, which issued R.E.M.’s 1983 full-length debut, Murmur. The group’s debut LP features a re-release of ‘Radio Free Europe,’ which was a Top 25 hit on Billboard’s mainstream rock chart.

* Rolling Stone named Murmur the magazine's Best Album of 1983, beating out Michael Jackson's Thriller and the Police's Synchronicity. The album also helped expand the R.E.M. fan base by cracking the Top 40 (No. 36) of the Billboard 200.

* The fifth R.E.M. album, Document, introduced producer Scott Litt. The album was a Top 10 hit on the Billboard 200, and went platinum on the strength of the single, ‘The One I Love,’ which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was also R.E.M.’s biggest hit to date in the U.K., reaching the Top 40 of the British singles chart.

* Exhaustion prompted R.E.M. to forgo touring in support of 1991’s Out of Time, but the album still became a global, multi-platinum, No. 1 LP backed by the success of the worldwide smash, ‘Losing My Religion.’ The 1992 follow up, Automatic for the People, was another quadruple platinum success, generating the Top 40 hit singles ‘Drive,’ ‘Man on the Moon,’ and ‘Everybody Hurts.’

* R.E.M. has sold more than 85 million studio albums worldwide, earning induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, and announcing an amicable breakup in September 2011. The group’s more than 30 years together resulted in 15 studio albums, three live albums, 14 compilations, one remix album, a soundtrack album, 12 video albums, seven EPs, 63 singles, and 77 music videos.

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