25 February 2011
Look at me eating my own words – a few weeks ago I was quite convinced that “Mine Smell Like Honey” was not a very good song. However, R.E.M. have just released the live video – another one from the batch of videos filmed at the Hansa Studio in Berlin last summer – and it turns out that this song actually rocks! (I still think that it was a poor choice for the first U.S. single though – the studio version is just not very radio-friendly.) You know, that’s the usual thing with R.E.M. – they are such a fantastic live band, that somehow their studio albums never really do them justice. In my humble opinion Scott Litt was really the only producer who could capture what R.E.M. are really about and make their albums sound lush and gorgeous, but not overproduced (or underproduced). Think of Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Lifes Rich Pageant, or Reveal, Around the Sun, Accelerate – so many brilliant songs, but they all sound 100 times better live than on the actual studio cuts.
Such a shame that R.E.M. have decided not to tour this year… at least let’s hope that sometime in the future they’ll release these live recordings from Berlin on a DVD. Anyway, here’s “Mike Smell Like Honey” in the band’s superb interpretation.
Next up, Kirsten has translated more song discussions from German Rolling Stone. This time, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills elaborate on “Discoverer” and “All The Best”:
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Mills: The song might link directly to “Accelerate” in so far as it has dirty, crashing guitars. We like to start with a rocker. Not always, but often. We knew from very early on that we wanted the album to start with it. This time, determining the song order was surprisingly easy.
Stipe: “Up” for example was too long, eleven, maybe twelve songs would have been sufficient. Back then, in the final stages of the recordings, we just weren’t on a level of communication on which we would have been able to discuss and change that, so it happened that way, and that was that. But this time we communicated on so many levels, Mike, Peter and me, that it was clear what would end up on the album and what would not. That was good. A couple of good songs didn’t make it, but whatever.
“All the Best”
Mills: Funnily enough, I don’t even know anymore where we recorded what one. Actually almost everything was recorded everywhere – in New Orleans, Berlin and Nashville. After Berlin we felt pretty confident of how we wanted the album to sound. However Michael still had to record quite a few vocals, including this one.
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Thanks, Kirsten! Finally,Billboard has a new interview with Mike Mills. Aside from the usual promo stuff, Mike says that their decision not to tour in 2011 might or might not hasten R.E.M.’s next album, especially since there’s a substantial number of songs and ideas still around that did not make it on Collapse Into Now. Now, this is something that we all wanted to hear: a) they do not intend to stop at album No. 15, and b) we might not have to wait for 3-4 years for the next record. Oh and guess what, Mike says that the demos for Lifes Rich Pageant (about to be reissued this year as part of the special 25th anniversary edition) actually sound better that the finished record – which sort of supports what I have said above…