Flawed R.E.M. Murmur Deluxe Ed. Due

 

Back to the drawing
board, perhaps lads, hmmm?

 

By Fred Mills

 

 

This morning word arrived via Pitchfork that R.E.M.’s classic,
influential ’83 screed Murmur will
get the expanded/remaster treatment on Nov. 25: that’s when the two-CD Murmur: Deluxe Edition arrives in stores
via Ume. It will include essays from Mitch
Easter and Don Dixon (who produced the original sessions) plus, on the second
disc, a portion of the oft-bootlegged July 9, 1983 R.E.M. concert at Larry’s
Hideaway in Toronto.

 

The full tracklisting appears below.

 

In fact, let’s take a closer look at exactly what’s being
served up here. While it’s very nice to get a contemporary-era remaster of a
classic album, in the case of Murmur,
it was a nigh-on perfect release anyway; even the CD editions out there have
sported superb sound. But we won’t dwell on this, and anyway, the whole
package, including the new liner notes, should be very nice indeed.

 

In other areas, however, this reissue seems deeply flawed.
Disc 1, which contains the original album, contains no bonus tracks whatsoever.
In 1992 a brace of European I.R.S. reissues of R.E.M. albums came out, each
boasting a handful of intriguing bonus tracks – Murmur included a cover of the Velvets’ “There She Goes Again”
(originally the B-side of the re-recorded “Radio Free Europe”) and live
versions of “Catapult” (Seattle, 6-27-84), “9-9” (France, 4-20-84) and
“Gardening At Night” (France, 4-20-84). It’s not as if Disc 1 is exactly
crammed with content; there’s plenty of room, time-wise, to add these four
songs.

 

Disc 2 is also problematic. Yes, it’s very cool to have the
live show, but you’re only getting 16 songs of what was actually a 20-song set
(see full tracklist below) The gig’s length exceeded the 80 minute limit of a
standard CD, but those additional four tracks could have been tacked on the end
of Disc 1 in lieu of the aforementioned bonus cuts. So while this may indeed go
into what comprises a “Deluxe Edition,” UMe
isn’t exactly doing any real fans and collectors any favors here.

 

Incidentally, the Larry’s Hideaway show has had an
interesting trajectory over the years. About 45 minutes of it was originally
broadcast over the radio, subsequently generating an oft-traded tape among
collectors. Later, an actual soundboard recording of the entire show surfaced,
and that became an even more-coveted trade artifact, eventually making its way
to bootleg CD (one, among several, titles was R.E.M. Rising, issued by the Red Robin label) and, later, to the
file-sharing communities. Google it and you’ll immediately turn up plenty of
hits if you’re interested in nabbing a torrent.

 

Anyway, most of this will be irrelevant to the general
public. But when a band or a label is going to get involved in the process of
putting together a so-called Deluxe Edition, sometimes a bit more thought
should go into it.

 

Track List:

 

Disc 1:

01 Radio Free Europe
02 Pilgrimage
03 Laughing
04 Talk About the Passion
05 Moral Kiosk
06 Perfect Circle
07 Catapult
08 Sitting Still
09 9-9
10 Shaking Through
11 We Walk
12 West of the Fields

Disc 2 (Live at Larry’s Hideaway):

01 Laughing
02 Pilgrimage
03 There She Goes Again
04 7 Chinese Brothers
05 Talk About the Passion
06 Sitting Still
07 Harborcoat
08 Catapult
09 Gardening at Night
10 9-9
11 Just a Touch
12 West of the Fields
13 Radio Free Europe
14 We Walk
15 1,000,000
16 Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)

 

***

 

Larry’s Hideaway complete setlist:

 

 

01. Wolves, Lower
02. Moral Kiosk
03. Laughing
04. Pilgrimage
05. Moon River
06. There She Goes Again
07. 7 Chinese Brothers
08. Talk About the Passion
09. Sitting Still
10. Harborcoat
11. Catapult
12. Pretty Persuasion
13. Gardening at Night
14. 9-9
15. Just a Touch
16. West of the Fields
17. Radio Free Europe
18. We Walk
19. 1,000,000
20. Carnival of Sorts

 

 

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