Recorded during and immediately following R.E.M.'s disaster-prone Monster tour, New Adventures in Hi-Fi feels like it was recorded on the road. Not only are all of Michael Stipe's lyrics on the album about moving or travel, the sound is ragged and varied, pieced together from tapes recorded at shows, soundtracks, and studios, giving it a loose, careening charm. New Adventures has the same spirit of much of R.E.M.'s IRS records, but don't take the title of New Adventures in Hi-Fi lightly -- R.E.M. tries different textures and new studio tricks. "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us" opens the album with a rolling, vaguely hip-hop drum beat and slowly adds on jazzily dissonant piano. "E-Bow the Letter" starts out as an updated version of "Country Feedback," then it turns in on itself with layers of moaning guitar effects and Patti Smith's haunting backing vocals. Clocking in at seven minutes, "Leave" is the longest track R.E.M. has yet recorded and it's one of their strangest and best -- an affecting minor-key dirge with a howling, siren-like feedback loop that runs throughout the entire song. Elsewhere, R.E.M. tread standard territory: "Electrolite" is a lovely piano-based ballad, "Departure" rocks like a Document outtake, the chiming opening riff of "Bittersweet Me" sounds like it was written in 1985, "New Test Leper" is gently winding folk-rock, and "The Wake-Up Bomb" and "Undertow" rock like the Monster outtakes they are. New Adventures in Hi-Fi may run a little too long -- it clocks in at 62 minutes, by far the longest album R.E.M. has ever released -- yet in its multifaceted sprawl, they wound up with one of their best records of the '90s.
Performance CreditsR.E.M. Primary Artist
Scott McCaughey Piano,Autoharp,ARP
Peter Buck Banjo,Bass,Bouzouki,Guitar,Mandolin,Vocals
Andy Carlson Violin
Mike Mills Organ,Synthesizer,Bass,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals,Moog Synthesizer,Mellotron,farfisa organ,Fuzz Bass
Patti Smith Vocals
Michael Stipe Synthesizer,Vocals
Bill Berry Synthesizer,Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Drums,Human Whistle
Nathan December Guitar,Tambourine,Guiro
Technical CreditsPeter Murphy Composer
Steve Stills Composer
Daniel Ash Composer
David J Composer
Peter Buck Composer
Kevin Haskins Composer
John Keane Engineer
Scott Litt Producer
Patrick McCarthy Engineer
Mike Mills Composer
Michael Stipe Composer
Bill Berry Composer,Contributor
Adam Kaspar Engineer
Joe Oherigy Engineer
Jo Ravitch Engineer
Jeff Wooding Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
New Adventures in Hi-Fi based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
I am a HUGE R.E.M. fan but I have to say this album is just a let down. The songs here are mostly soundchecks of songs left off of Monster and you can hear why. The beautiful melody you find on all of their other albums (even the hard rocking Monster)just isnt there. These songs just DONT SOUND GOOD. The one keeper is "New Test Leper" which is incredible, but every band is going to miss at some point and R.E.M. did here. All that said, even at their worst I'd take R.E.M. and this album over most of the cr@p now populating the airwaves
When first listening to this fabulous collection, you may wonder what direction R.E.M. took. Definitely live, definitely raw, it's an odd one, both live and studio mixes. After the first listen, you begin to recognise the outstanding traits that make R.E.M. E-Bow the letter is a particular favourite, and I would recommend anyone this album if just for this one track!
This album has plenty of good songs to listen to. It is a change from their older music but it will still keep their fans happy.