A quarter century ago, R.E.M. made some surprising steps in their storied career that will be re-examined in a new 25th anniversary reissue of 1998's Up. The remastered album will be reissued on CD, vinyl and digitally, including a deluxe set that includes a previously unreleased live performance undertaken for the TV drama Party of Five. A Blu-ray includes the album's long-unavailable 5.1 surround and hi-res mixes, plus rare footage and music videos from the period. All the releases will be in stores November 10.
The release of Up came out of a surprising set of changes that affected the band over the past few years. Chief among them was the departure of founding drummer Bill Berry, who'd simply tired of the rock and roll grind and would only depart if the band would elect to continue as a trio. They did - but the shockwaves roiled singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills as they attempted to move forward. The band maintained that Up, which featured contributions from session players Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees and Beck's touring drummer Joey Waronker as well as drum machine parts and loops, would have sounded the same regardless.
The sessions, produced by Pat McCarthy with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich serving as engineer, were later noted by the band to be more contentious than originally known, with tense conflicts ultimately resolved between the trio. Yet the album is inward and subdued in a way no R.E.M. record was before or since - full of twitchy ballads like "Daysleeper" and "At My Most Beautiful." (For the first time, Stipe elected to print the lyrics to Up in the CD booklet, a practice the band would do until they dissolved in 2011.) Even the most faithful fans weren't sure what to make of it: Up peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, but only earned a gold sales certification by the Recording Industry Association of America - their first album to not go platinum or multiplatinum since Lifes Rich Pageant in 1986. Nonetheless, the "three-legged dog" version of R.E.M. would keep trotting into the new century, and with their legend as one of America's preeminent rock bands long secured, perhaps the time is right to put the needle back down on Up.
You can pre-order the album below.
Up (25th Anniversary Edition) (Craft Recordings, 2023)
CD 1: Remastered album (released as Warner Bros. 47112, 1998)
- At My Most Beautiful
- The Apologist
- Sad Professor
- You're in the Air
- Walk Unafraid
- Why Not Smile
- Falls to Climb
CD 2: Party of Five Recording (previously unreleased - recorded for Party of Five episode "Fragile" S5E22 - aired 4/28/1999)
- What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
- Country Feedback
- Walk Unafraid
- Losing My Religion
- The Apologist
- It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)
- I'm Not Over You
- Man on the Moon
- Original album in 5.1 surround sound and hi-resolution audio (released as Warner Bros. R2 73952, 2005)
- This Way Up (press kit)
- Uptake (performance)
- Daysleeper (music video)
- Lotus (music video)
- At My Most Beautiful (music video)