REM Green album cover

REM Green album cover

REM: Green 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino Records)
DL / CD / LP
Available now 

Twenty-five years after its release we take another listen to REM’s Green album and see how the tracks are standing up. 

There will always be songs or albums that define moments in our lives. Not those few classics you can’t get through a month without returning to, but the ones that pop up irregularly and trigger a tsunami of memories sweeping you of to a distinct and distant period of your life. Spending time with REM’s Green 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition has taken me on a revealing, contented and amusing journey.

REM released their sixth studio album in November 1988; it was the band debut album with a major label (Warner Bros. Records). The album was something of a departure stylistically, yet held on to enough of the essence of REM for there to be nothing but a universal warm reception from both fans, the music press and the wider mainstream audience the band had started reaching.

More convivial than the previous year’s Document even the heaviness of guitars is lifted to cheery jangle, however as the opening track demonstrates strong convictions are still the order of the day as Stipe imagines how it would be to talk about weighty issue within the world of aesthetic beauty and the generic pop song.

Wild, funky and jerky Get Up had this simple comfortableness about it, always made me recall XTC and wonder in hindsight if there is an element of parody at play. It is Stand that dominated that first year of getting into the indie club night (barefaced cheek and a decent in-school made ID). It ticks the boxes of every clichéd pop song technique to musically grab and hold on to you including a heaven sent two key change at the end: just to make every one kick it up a notch on those sticky dance floors. As calculated as Stand is, I still don’t feel tricked.

World Leader Pretend has a gentle back-and-forth between guitars and piano, it pin points the start of REM mastering of the wounded heart ballad whilst Orange Crush is a stadium sized anthem of a song: boots stomping, megaphoned drill instructor Stripe, the marching drum beat. It is infectiously pounding, and as close to rock as REM had gone.

Thinking about the individual tracks it is hard to see Green being inconsistent, yet when listening to it as a whole it feels a little choppy in places swinging from fearless to indulged. Times have changed the way we listen to music and we spend more time listening to a soundtracks of endless variations and the eleven original Green tracks certainly can still hold their own supremely: plus it’s a bonus to be just 16 again even if it is only till the end of the track.

The re-mastered original album is accompanied by a disc of live performances taken from the penultimate show of REM’s 130-date Green World Tour at Greensboro, North Carolina on November 10, 1989. While it is not a complete recording of the show it is certainly an enjoyable addition. There are also four postcards and a foldout poster, plus liner notes by Uncut editor, Allan Jones.

REM Green (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) is available now as a 2-disc set, digital download and on 180-gram vinyl with original art and packaging.

All words by Katie Clare. You can read more from Katie in her author archive.

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