About time we got a
chance to revisit that Aragon
concert from ’84…
By Fred Mills
R.E.M.’s second full-length, 1984’s Reckoning – arguably on par with 1983’s Murmur as both a sign o’ the times and a benchmark of the
alterna-generation – is set to get the deluxe edition treatment. On June 23,
IRS/UMe will reissue the album as a remastered/expanded two-CD set featuring,
on the bonus disc, the June 7, 1984, R.E.M. concert from Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom that was originally
broadcast over WXRT-FM (and subsequently spawned a raft of high quality
bootlegs). The band’s biographer Tony Fletcher will pen liner notes for the
set, and it will also be coming out on vinyl simultaneously with a vinyl edition
of Murmur. See the official press release, below.
This comes on the heels of the deluxe edition for Murmur which, as we’ve noted previously,
is a fantastic document but one which could have perhaps been served more fully by the inclusion of additional bonus material. There is no indication that this
new Reckoning will include any of the
known studio outtakes from the original recording sessions, or sessions
proximate to the album’s general time frame (“Cushy Tush” or “Hey Hey Nadine,”
anyone?), but fans can always hope.
Previously, import CD reissues of the album had included
bonus tracks “Wind Out,” “Pretty Persuasion (live),” “Tighten Up,” “Moon River”
and “White Tornado (live)”.
Read our review of Murmur here.
Reckoning “confirms R.E.M. as one of the most beautifully
exciting groups on the planet,” wrote NME in 1984. R.E.M.’s second
full-length album also prompted The Washington
Post to proclaim that “there isn’t an American band worth following more
than R.E.M.” Twenty-five years later, Reckoning remains a fan favorite for capturing R.E.M. during the
youthful freshness of a new, fiercely independent American music scene.
The two-CD Reckoning – Deluxe Edition (I.R.S./A&M/UMe), released June
23, 2008, features the original album remastered plus a bonus disc of a
previously unreleased concert recorded during the band’s Little America tour at Chicago’s
Aragon Ballroom on July 7, 1984 and broadcast on WXRT. In
addition, Reckoning and R.E.M.’s
1983 debut album Murmur will be simultaneously reissued on audiophile quality
180 gram vinyl in their complete original packaging.
On the Deluxe Edition’s bonus disc, the group not only performs eight of Reckoning’s ten songs, “Gardening
At Night” from 1982’s Chronic Town EP and “Radio Free Europe,”
“9-9” and “Sitting Still” from Murmur but also new songs
that had yet to make it onto tape: “Driver 8” would later debut on
R.E.M.’s third album and “Hyena” on its fourth.
Inclusion of the live concert is
particularly appropriate for Reckoning
– Deluxe Edition. Whereas Murmur had been complex and painstakingly
deliberate, the band’s Bill Berry, Peter Buck,
Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, along with
producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, saw Reckoning as a “chance to turn up
the volume, tear up the rule book, and capture instead R.E.M.’s on-stage
mojo,” according to the Deluxe
Edition liner notes by author Tony Fletcher. Even as
Stipe lyrically delved into darker subject matter and the album included the band’s
first true ballads — the melancholic “Time After Time (Annelise)”
and “Camera” — other tracks revealed a band steeped in the immediacy
of playing gigs in a college town, from the pulsating “7 Chinese
Bros.,” hard-rocking “Little America” and anthemic “(Don’t
Go Back To) Rockville” to the melodically evocative “So. Central Rain
(I’m Sorry),” “Letter Never Sent” and “Pretty
Reckoning peaked on the charts at #27, nine spots higher than Murmur
(Rolling Stone’s 1983 Album of the Year) and was eventually certified gold.
R.E.M. would go on to score #1-charting quadruple platinum albums and win
worldwide adoration. In 2007, in its first year of eligibility, the band was
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.