R.E.M.

Green, Out of Time, Automatic for the People, Monster, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Up, Reveal, In Time:The Best of R.E.M., and Around the Sun (Warner Bros.)

Reissues

R.E.M.

Green (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

Out of Time (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

Automatic for the People (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

Monster (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

New Adventures in Hi-Fi (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

Up (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

Reveal (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (Warner Bros.)

R.E.M.

Around the Sun (Warner Bros.)

Reissues

R.E.M. has always been a record-collector's nightmare, but their tenure with Warner Bros. (1988-present) has been particularly exasperating, with all sorts of rarities and special packaging following the release of each new album. This set of reissues is more likely to upset than please anyone, especially those who have already forked over good money for these albums once. The selling point is that they're all CD/DVD combos. The CD is the album as originally released, with an expanded booklet and new liner notes. The DVDs contain a 5.1 sound version of the album along with a smattering of videos, documentaries, and interviews. As expected, the DVD audio on each is a sonic upgrade, but the music on some – Up, Around the Sun, parts of Reveal – remains hardly worth a listen. Out of Time is of interest, containing the previously unreleased documentary Time Piece, which does an admirable job of combining interviews and song commentaries from the band. Monster contains previously unreleased live performances of "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?," "Let Me In," and "I Don't Sleep, I Dream" that accurately capture this period of R.E.M. at its peak. Casual fans might want In Time since it collects the band's latter era hits, but the DVD extras are limited to two videos of "Bad Day." Stipe, Buck, and Mills certainly deserve praise for trying to give fans something extra, but it's really too soon to reissue these discs. Especially when there's such a drastic need for a complete overhaul of their early, IRS albums, which, to most, will always amount to their best work.

(Green; Out of Time; Automatic for the People) ***.5

(Monster; New Adventures in Hi-Fi; Best of) ***

(Up; Reveal; Around the Sun) **

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