R.E.M.

Formed 1980. Disbanded 21 September 2011.
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Mike Mills of REM talks to Liz Kershaw

Liz talks to Mike about the recording of their album Green on its 25th anniversary.

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Biography

R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular alternative rock bands, R.E.M. gained early attention because of Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style and Stipe's unclear vocals. R.E.M. released its first single, "Radio Free Europe", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band's first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single "The One I Love". The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre and released its two most commercially successful albums, catapulting it to international fame, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which veered from the band's established sound. R.E.M.'s 1994 release, Monster, was a return to a more rock-oriented sound, but still continued its run of success. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; the tour was marred by medical emergencies suffered by three band members. In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US$80 million, at the time the most expensive recording contract in history. Its 1996 release, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, though critically acclaimed, fared worse commercially than expected. The following year, Bill Berry left the band, while Buck, Mills, and Stipe continued the group as a trio. Through some...

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BBC Reviews

  1. Review of Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982-2011

    Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982-2011 2011

    Reviewed by Paul Whitelaw
    A 40-track career overview that puts every other R.E.M. ‘best-of’ in the shade.
  2. Review of Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition)

    Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition) 2011

    Reviewed by David Sheppard
    A watershed album on the cusp between their underground appeal and stadium future.
  3. Review of Collapse into Now

    Collapse into Now 2011

    Reviewed by Martin Aston
    As deep as previous R.E.M. classics, and perhaps their best post-Bill Berry LP.
  4. Review of Fables Of The Reconstruction

    Fables Of The Reconstruction 2010

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    These days it sounds like exactly what it's title says...a fable, lost in time.
  5. Review of Fables of the Reconstruction

    Fables of the Reconstruction 2010

    Reviewed by Mischa Pearlman
    A dark, dangerous but delightful record that’s as good – if not better – than new.
  6. Review of Live at the Olympia

    Live at the Olympia 2009

    Reviewed by Mike Diver
    An apposite live companion to their best-of collections.
  7. Review of Accelerate

    Accelerate 2008

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    We should be thankful, and not a little amazed.
  8. Review of Live

    Live 2007

    Reviewed by Sonja D'Cruze
    Stipey and co with their first live document. Lighter-wavingly good...
  9. Review of Around The Sun

    Around The Sun 2004

    Reviewed by Chris Charles
    If Peter Buck listened to this on an aeroplane, he'd drift off to sleep.
  10. Review of Reveal

    Reveal 2001

    Reviewed by Chris Jones
    Reveal has a warmth that comes from finally being able to use all the shiny happy toys...
  11. Review of Up

    Up 1998

    Reviewed by Nick Reynolds
    The best of the three post-Berry studio albums.
  12. Review of New Adventures In Hi-Fi

    New Adventures In Hi-Fi 1996

    Reviewed by Nick Reynolds
    Remove the filler and this is a very good album, perhaps even the last great REM album.
  13. Review of Monster

    Monster 1994

    Reviewed by Al Spicer
    Taken as a whole, it must be seen as a double-edged triumph.
  14. Review of Automatic For The People

    Automatic For The People 1992

    Reviewed by Jon Lusk
    ...turned them into one of the biggest bands on the planet...
  15. Review of Out Of Time

    Out Of Time 1991

    Reviewed by Lou Thomas
    ...the one that launched them into the stratosphere.
  16. Review of Green

    Green 1988

    Reviewed by Sid Smith
    There’s an ambition on Green that’s not always present on their earlier albums.
  17. Review of Document

    Document 1987

    Reviewed by Tim Cunningham
    The album that took them from college radio favourites to mainstream success.
  18. Review of Lifes Rich Pageant

    Lifes Rich Pageant 1986

    Reviewed by Nick Reynolds
    REM can do anything they want, including conquer the world.
  19. Review of Reckoning

    Reckoning 1984

    Reviewed by Al Spicer
    R.E.M. remain ferociously indie and seemingly uninterested in mainstream success.
  20. Review of Murmur

    Murmur 1983

    Reviewed by Sid Smith
    Unapologetically intelligent, Murmur is a fully-fledged classic.
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