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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Revisiting: Green - R.E.M. (1988)

Green - R.E.M.
Warner Bros.
Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M.
Released 7th November 1988
US Chart #12
UK Chart #27

Air Side

Metal Side
    Bill Berry – drums, percussion, backing vocals, bass guitar on "You Are the Everything", "The Wrong Child", and "Hairshirt"
    Peter Buck – guitar, mandolin, drums on "Eleventh, Untitled Song"
    Mike Mills – bass guitar, keyboards, accordion, backing vocals
    Michael Stipe – vocals

Additional musicians
    Bucky Baxter – pedal steel guitar on "World Leader Pretend"
 Keith LeBlanc – percussion on "Turn You Inside-Out"
    Jane Scarpantoni – cello on "World Leader Pretend"

Singles On Green
(They were released on different formats and where different tracks appear I'll try and add links for those particular songs

7" US Single
A-Side: Orange Crush
Released December 1988
UK Chart #28

UK 3" CD Single

UK Cassette Single
A2/B2 - Ghost Riders (Previously Unreleased)*

*was also included as the B-Side of the UK 7" and the Limited Edition 7" Box Set that included Tour Poster

UK 12"
B1- Ghost Riders

US 7"
A-Side: Stand
Released January 1989
US Chart #6
UK Chart #48
** Not totally sure why the US single had the same B-Side as the Orange Crush 7"!

UK 12"***
B2- Skin Tight (Live)

*** Another UK 12" had Memphis Train Blues and Eleventh Untitled Song as the B-Side and the same track listing was on the UK 3" Mini CD Single

UK 7" Die Cut Sleeve
A-Side: Stand
B-Side: Pop Song '89 (Acoustic Version)

US 7" and Cassette Single
A-Side: Pop Song '89
B-Side: Pop Song '89 (Acoustic Version)
Released May 1989
US Chart #86

US 7"
A-Side: Get Up
B-Side: Funtime
Released September 1989
Did Not Chart

B-Side: Turn You Inside-Out
Spanish 7" Promo


R.E.M.'s Green album is my favourite LP of theirs. Maybe because it was the one that really hit home to me (I had heard some of the others and a few songs had struck me as being good but I wasn't totally drawn in by them) and it was the first one I bought right there on the spot in a record shop whilst it was blaring out over the sound system on the day of its release.

Unlike their previous albums, Green was released on a major label and of course sounds were heard far and wide that the band had sold out because of the move! It's always a shame when people think like that. They can be so precious about protecting that Indie/Alternative label that they often fail to actually take note of the band or artist's attitude towards such a move. For R.E.M. signing to Warner Bros. gave them a much bigger platform and also it gave them creative control over their releases (that is very important). If they had stuck around with I.R.S. Records I'm not totally convinced that they would have had such huge success seeing that MCA Records (who distributed I.R.S. Records) felt that they were not much of a priority and yet were putting pressure on the band to sell more records! There's only so much you can do in such circumstances and R.E.M. went label hunting for any who might be interested in them. Though some labels offered the band more money it was Warner Bros. who were offering them total creative control. They picked what was the best for them as a band I think no matter how loud the dissenters were shouting!

The album overall is a real mixture of sound mixing up Pop, Rock and a quieter acoustic side with instrumentation ranging from mandolin, accordian and steel guitar. Mike Mills said it was quite experimental resulting in an album that was "haphazard, a little scattershot". Peter Buck said that the album didn't feature "typical R.E.M. songs". Band biographer David Buckley wrote, "Sonically, Green is all over the place, the result being a fascinatingly eclectic album rather than a unified artistic move forward". Whatever the case I think it's an absolute belter of an album.

The album was released on this day back in 1988 and on the following day (8th November) in the USA, timed nicely to coincide with the 1988 Presidential Election that was between Republican George H. W. Bush (who had born much criticism from the band) and Democratic Nominee Michael Dukakis (who the band had been supportive of). Bush of course won by 53.4% of vote!

It's very fitting to be posting about this album on the eve of the anniversary of last year's Presidential Race where America made the bizzarest decision to elect Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States! I say fittting because my favourite song on Green and the only song to have the lyrics printed on the inside cover of the album was World Leader Pretend!

If the song was a dig at George H. W. Bush back in 1988 it surely seemed to fit in 2016 the Reality TV Star and Businessman Donald Trump (though of course it's up for grabs whether he should ever be called a good businessman!).

World Leader Pretend
written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe

I sit at my table and wage war on myself
It seems like it's all, it's all for nothing
I know the barricades
And I know the mortar in the wall breaks
I recognise the weapons, I've used them well

This is my mistake
Let me make it good
I raised the wall
And I will be the one to knock it down

I've a rich understanding of my finest defences
I proclaim that claims are left unstated
I demand a rematch

I decree a stalemate
I divine my deeper motives
I recognise the weapons
I've practised them well
I fitted them myself

It's amazing what devices you can sympathize
This is my mistake, let me make it good
I raised the wall
And I will be the one to knock it down

Reach out for me
Hold me tight
Hold that memory
Let my machine talk to me
Let my machine talk to me

This is my world,and I am the World Leader Pretend
This is my life, and this is my time
I have been given the freedom to do as I see fit
It's high time I razed the walls that I've constructed

It's amazing what devices you can sympathize
This is my mistake, let me make it good
I raised the wall
And I will be the one to knock it down

You fill in the mortar
You fill in the harmony
You fill in the mortar
I raised the wall
And I'm the only one
I will be the one to knock it down

The catalogue of failure, broken promises, insults, attacks on the media, poor response to national tragedy, failure to deal with home grown terror (by stating "it's a mental health thing and not a gun thing") and the continuing despair surrounding Trump's tenure as POTUS can be seen elsewhere on news sites on a daily basis and go to prove that he's one World Leader Pretend who clearly has bitten off more than he can chew!

A huge World Tour was undertaken in support of the album with some being filmed for what became the Tourfilm video, here's a few selections from it.

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