Murmur [Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition]

Murmur [Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition]

by R.E.M.
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Murmur [Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition]

Leaving behind the garagey jangle pop of their first recordings, R.E.M. developed a strangely subdued variation of their trademark sound for their full-length debut album, Murmur. Heightening the enigmatic tendencies of Chronic Town by de-emphasizing the backbeat and accentuating the ambience of the ringing guitar, R.E.M. created a distinctive sound for the album -- one that sounds eerily timeless. Even though it is firmly in the tradition of American folk-rock, post-punk, and garage rock, Murmur sounds as if it appeared out of nowhere, without any ties to the past, present, or future. Part of the distinctiveness lies in the atmospheric production, which exudes a detached sense of mystery, but it also comes from the remarkably accomplished songwriting. The songs on Murmur sound as if they've existed forever, yet they subvert folk and pop conventions by taking unpredictable twists and turns into melodic, evocative territory, whether it's the measured riffs of "Pilgrimage," the melancholic "Talk About the Passion," or the winding guitars and pianos of "Perfect Circle." R.E.M. may have made albums as good as Murmur in the years following its release, but they never again made anything that sounded quite like it. [As far as deluxe editions go, Universal's 2008 expansion of R.E.M.'s 1983 debut Murmur leans toward the skimpy: it may spill over to two CDs, but the only bonus material is a live show recorded at Larry's Hideway in Toronto, just three months after the album's release. There was enough room on the first disc to add both the early Hib-Tone single of "Radio Free Europe" and their first EP, Chronic Town, plus assorted stray tracks; much of this material has shown up on various releases over the years -- the bulk being reissued on 1987's clearinghouse Dead Letter Office, which also had Chronic Town on the CD, but the Hib-Tone single has popped up on Eponymous and the rarities disc, 2006's And I Feel Fine -- so most R.E.M. fans have this in their collection, which is necessary as it's not here. Any lingering resentment over this missing music should be soothed by the live show on the second disc, which captures the band in full flight. This release constitutes the first official release of an early R.E.M. concert (there are bootlegs containing a slightly longer set but this is close enough to qualify as a full show) and it's a welcome addition to their catalog as it crackles with an energy that is missing from the hazy, ethereal Murmur. R.E.M. barrel through the bulk of the album -- only "Moral Kiosk" and "Shaking Through" are absent -- plus a chunk of Chronic Town, throwing in a cover of "There She Goes Again" and early versions of Reckoning's "Harborcoat," "7 Chinese Bros.," and "Just a Touch," which didn't surface until 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant. This wasn't a showcase night for R.E.M., it was just another gig on the tour, and that's the great thing about it: the band isn't self-conscious, they're just tearing through their songs, rocking harder than they did on any of their studio albums. It's direct and a little raw -- with microphone feedback on occasion -- in a way that none of their early albums are, and that's what makes it worthy of a special edition, even if it's hard not to wish that first disc had just a few extra cuts as well.]

Product Details

Release Date: 11/24/2008
Label: A&M
UPC: 0602517882881
catalogNumber: 001225102

Album Credits

Performance Credits

R.E.M.   Primary Artist
Mike Mills   Bass Guitar
Michael Stipe   Piano,Vocals
Bill Berry   Percussion,Drums
Bertis Downs   Group Member
Jefferson Holt   Group Member

Technical Credits

Don Dixon   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Lou Reed   Composer
Peter Buck   Composer
Mitch Easter   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Mike Mills   Composer
Michael Stipe   Composer
Bill Berry   Composer
Dana Smart   Reissue Producer
Carl Grasso   Collaboration
Neil Bogan   Composer
Andrew Kinney   Collaboration
Pat Lawrence   Executive Producer
Ryan Null   Photo Coordination
Sandra Lee Phipps   Collaboration

Customer Reviews

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Murmur 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Murmur is the strongest CD that R.E.M. has made, every song on it is good. Don't listen to the other reviewers who say that other R.E.M. Cd's are better. Murmur is clearly superior, yes even better than Out of Time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This guy is batting .000 with his reviews. Anyway, Murmur is great. This album INVENTED the genre we now call alternative. Propulsive, beautiful songs like Radio Free Europe, Talk About the Passion, Laughing, and all the rest provide a great look back at the beginnings of R.E.M. and a great listening experience. It's just a preview of the even greater albums to follow (like Green, Automatic for the People and YES Out of Time, among others)
Guest More than 1 year ago
REM, rewards the attentive listener. Their music is bursting with pleasant surprises which begin to surface only after a few plays. Influences ranging from the Byrds to Hermans Hermits to the Dave Clark Five abound, while the band still sounds truly distinctive. Songs which on first listen seem to be filler begin to take on life and power-you may find your favorite track changing with each play. Although the lyrics are often unclear-even when they're comprehensible through Michael Stipes throaty vocals-it doesn't-really matter. In R.E.M.'s music, vocals are more than just lyrics, they add to the total experience by blending with and contrasting to the music. And when a lyric does come through (again, with repeated listening) the imagery is often startling. Murmur is a truly superb debut album, showcasing a new and innovative approach to rock and pop music. Just ashy made U2 the most talked about 1981's Chronic Town, Murmur makes R.E.M. the band to watch in 1983.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The headline may seem like a bit of an overstatement, but this really is an amazing collection of songs. The entire album is this incredible murky mix of Bill Berry's driving and accented beats, Mike Mills' strong bass grooves, and Peter Buck's jangling, syncopated guitar. Not to mention Michael Stipe's and Mills' dueling vocal leads and harmonies. Lesser-known standouts include ''Pilgrimage,'' ''Laughing,'' ''Moral Kiosk,'' ''Sitting Still,'' ''9-9,'' and ''Shaking Through.'' This is in addition to the more-famous ''Radio Free Europe'' and ''Talk about the Passion.'' Get this album.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago