Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Review: REM - Green (in surround and live)

Listened to my copy of REM‘s Green in surround sound. I bought this recently and hadn’t had an opportunity to listen to it till now. Like a lot of surround mixes, where you usually listen via a SACD player (which I have – a Pioneer) and five speaker set up (three in front, two behind), certain songs work better with it, and some don’t make much difference. In this case, World Leader Pretend, my favourite song on the album, works a treat. Nice separation with Peter Buck’s pedal steel guitar and Mike Mill’s piano. What a song! Stipe’s lyrics are great: ‘I proclaim the claims are left unstated/I demand a rematch/I decree a stalemate/I divine my deeper motives’. So good they were the only lyrics in the album artwork. Orange Crush‘s breakdown section has a helicopter whirring around my head while voices sing and shout at me from various corners. The Wrong Child is beautiful and heartbreaking. Listening to the album after all these years, it still stands up. Definitely one of their best.

I saw them on the Green tour they promoted this album with. It was at Festival Hall, Melbourne. A hot summer day in 1990. They started with Pop Song 89, naturally enough (‘Hi hi’). A lot of the album was showcased, including World Leader Pretend, where Stipe, as I recall, struck a drum (or was it a table?) with a stick. One of my favourite moments was when they did You Are Everything, the gentle acoustic recollection of late spring days in Athens and a woman, perhaps a Stipe grandmother. He sang the first half with his back to the audience, cradling the microphone in his arms, as if the song was too personal to share with us. Then, at the return of ‘sometimes I feel like I can hardly sing’, the opening lines, he slowly turned around, as if ready to share the song with us. It was a great moment. The other thing I remember about that concert was The Go Betweens played support in what turned out to be the original lineup’s last big tour. He seems to have trouble recalling the details in his books, but I can report with certainty that Robert Forster was definitely wearing his dress at this concert. Man, what a lineup: the Gobs and REM!