The legendary boxset

Hey guys,

So the million dollar question: will we ever see the R.E.M. boxset that has been mentioned over the years? I know we’ve been getting the 25th anniversary editions which are great, but even with the information we have on the R.E.M. Timeline we can see there’s so much missing, and I can’t help but think some stuff is being held back for future releases :crossed_fingers:

Would love to see Weatherman pop up at some point!

Also, so glad this place is back!!

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Honestly? I don’t think so.

The 25th anniversary editions is all we can expect and nothing else. But, who knows?

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I can’t see it, myself. Especially after the online dump of all the rarities and b-sides, plus all 25th anniversary eds.

I guess they don’t have a whole lot left in the vaults?

Tho I’d happily be proven wrong by those in the know!! :blush:

Probably not. Can imagine there’s very little left we haven’t heard that’s of quality. Hardcore fan curiosity has an appetite for it obviously, but i doubt it’d be worth the bands cost and effort to pull together TBH.

Secondly, it would probably need to be driven and curated by Peter and he’s very much logged off in recent years in terms of the anniversary release activity. In short, I’d be very surprised if anyone could be bothered.

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There are two things I’d like to see:

  1. A compilation set of all Fanclub singles
  2. An official release ID the '89 Atlanta show where they played Murmur and Green straight through
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I heard that they still have the entirety of the 1989 Murmur gig on film, as it was recorded for Tourfilm, but that the audio has been lost :frowning:

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There’s definitely still loads of tracks that remain unreleased/unheard, even from the album reissues that included demos, plus we recently got the 8 disc BBC sessions so I don’t think it’d be too unrealistic.

Agree that if they did release anything it’d be so much better with Peter at the helm!

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100%!!! I’d kill (OK, not literally) for a comp of the fanclub singles!! :sunglasses:

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There was talk of a 40th anniversary box set that was due to be released in 2020 but it was evidently delayed due to the pandemic. Stipe mentioned it in an interview last year but only in passing, no details were given. I can only guess that due to the 40th anniversary re-release of “Radio Free Europe” and the 25th anniversary release of New Adventures in Hi-Fi last year that the 40th anniversary box set got put on the back burner. I haven’t heard any talk of it since that Stipe interview. It’s possible that it’s been delayed indefinitely or perhaps all together.

What is the market for a box set at this point? How much revenue would they get from physical sales vs. streams? I can’t imagine they’d have anywhere near the budget they’d have from, say, the peak Warner years.

Um… how about a… 42nd anniversary one… um… this coming April? :roll_eyes:

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I have no idea but I recall a Bloomberg article after the release of REMTV that said it did better as a streamable product as compared to a physical one in regard to sales. I believe this is it but it may now be behind a paywall.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-11-26/r-dot-e-dot-m-dot-s-new-box-set-is-part-of-its-unique-business-strategy

I don’t get the impression that Peter or the other three have ever “curated” any archival release. Peter might write the liner notes, but someone else digs through the tape vault and comes up with re-releases that the band either approves or vetoes.

On the point that “there’s very little left we haven’t heard that’s of quality,” I respectfully disagree, if you count officially unreleased material as material “we haven’t heard.” Off the top of my head, there’s the following material that would work on a box set or as standalone releases:

Studio:

  1. The Bombay Sessions with Joe Perry (no, not that Joe Perry), late 1980/81? The first real studio session, before the Drive-In. Supposedly not very good - the reason they went to Mitch is that they were unhappy with this session, but it does include a studio recording of “Narrator,” which I’d love to hear. Never circulated, as far as I know, or at least never circulated among “ordinary” bootleg collectors like myself.

  2. The RCA Demos, 1982. The single best batch of unreleased studio material left in the can, in my opinion. Available on Chronic Murmurings and other boots in wretched sound quality. Would love to hear this material from the original mixdown tapes or multitracks.

  3. The Fan Club Singles. I’m amazed they haven’t gone to this well yet for a mass market release. Maybe they never will.

  4. Actual Studio Outtakes. By which I mean, usually the studio bonus material we get is always demos. How about actual alternate takes of studio recordings? On the Murmur Demos & Outtakes bootleg LP, there’s a super cool mix of “Sitting Still” with different harmony/backing vocals. What about the first, looser, rawer take of “Ignoreland” that Peter has talked about? Years ago, I think, I read an interview with either Bill or Peter in which they discussed how, during the Fables sessions, they attempted “Driver 8” in several different tempos and arrangements, i.e., like a “rock” version, a “country” version, a banjo version, etc. Maybe I made that up, but the Fables sessions are the great mystery of their catalog, in my opinion - supposedly some of the original session tapes were lost in London for a while, then discovered by the Alarm’s Mike Peters. I have a hunch there is some cool alternate stuff from those sessions, if the multitracks survive and the band has them. Then there’s always “Weatherman,” the new great white whale of unheard songs with vocals, now that we have “Devil Rides Backwards.”

Live:

  1. The Pat Biddle Sept. 1981? Tyrone’s tapes. Probably the single best, best quality, and most important early live recording that could easily be officially released.

  2. Lost I.R.S. Live Album/We Are Having a Heavenly Time/Page Auditorium tapes. The 1984 shows at Page Auditorium, and in Charlotte?, were professionally recorded by I.R.S., supposedly for an official live album that was nearly released at several different points. Partially booted as “We Are Having a Heavenly Time,” probably the single best live boot ever, despite speed issues. Release it now.

  3. Pageantry tour. Hands down, their best tour. And, hands down, their most poorly documented tour. Release an official live show from this tour, even if it has to be sourced from an audience recording or soundboard rough mix to cassette. They never played better than they did in 1986, Stipe never had better stage banter/storytelling between songs than he did in 1986.

  4. End of Monster tour shows in Atlanta, professionally recorded for Road Movie. Amazed this was passed over in favor of the Chicago show on Monster 25.

  5. End of Green tour shows. Supposedly 6? shows towards the end of the Green tour were professionally recorded for Tourfilm. We got the Greensboro show for Green 25, but how about releasing them all as a CD box set? Even though R.E.M. aren’t exactly the Grateful Dead when it comes to playing the songs differently every night. There were stretches of the Green tour where they came as close as they ever did to phoning it in, yet as the Greensboro show reveals, by the end of the tour, after having been playing live nearly every night for nearly a full year, with the end in sight, and the goal of recording Tourfilm to spur them to give a shit after a year of playing “Hello Cleveland” shows in anonymous enormodomes, they were firing on all cylinders and at a peak.

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Well, I doubt they’ll be physically digging through the vaults themselves but I’m sure the band will have much more involvement than that. I’d guess the band would be going through the catalogue of masters they have (not physically) and making suggestions. They’d then need to listen to them to make sure they’re happy with them, probably some studio time with a sound engineer re-mastering them. They’d need be in agreement, Bill too if there are tracks from his tenure. Decide on track-listing etc. It’ll be way more involved than you’ve suggested.

You always have to remember as well that things often stay unreleased for a reason. We’ll have heard most of the complete, quality songs that didn’t make the cut, there’ll be a lot of crap and half finished ideas to trawl through. The other point on this is remembering how democratic they are. If one hates a song or performance, we won’t hear it. It’s a big job for four people with their own lives.

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I get the impression the band don’t go through the recordings and make suggestions. Other people do that for them, then they say yes or no to what is presented to them.

I’m aware that things stay unreleased for a reason. As I noted above, after the release of “Devil Rides Backwards,” the last remaining unreleased studio recording with full lyrics from Stipe that I have any hope of being good is “Weatherman.” There are probably also studio recordings of “On the Fly” and “Staring Down the Barrel of the Middle Distance,” but we’ve heard those songs, they’re not a mystery. Having said that, they released a massive 8-CD dump of the BBC recordings, not all of which was A+ material, in my opinion, so it’s not as if they’re always going to be miserly with what’s in the vault. Stuff was held back from Monster 25, but a lot of previously unheard and unbooted material from that era was released.

As I said above, there’s studio material in the vault such as the 1982 RCA demos that is far from “crap.” And they haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the quality live shows they could release, especially from the I.R.S. era.

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This is good content! Your post I mean, as well as the unreleased material.

I recall reading that during the Up sessions the band also recorded a song (with vocals) that remains unreleased for the soundtrack of A Cool Dry Place (at one point point Mike Mills was slated to score the film). I assume there’s more goodies in the vaults than we’re aware of.

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About Mills, still waiting for a studio version of the “eagle song” he once performed solo.

With all due respect, I’m not sure if a studio version would do anything to improve upon that song. Perhaps I’m in the minority but I’m not the biggest fan of it.

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Me neither. I call it the “infamous eagle song”, but still would like to hear a studio version just because I like the tone of his voice.