Lifes Rich Pageant

Performers R.E.M.

I.R.S. Records | July 12, 2011 | Compact Disc

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Fables of the Reconstruction was intentionally murky, and Lifes Rich Pageant was constructed as its polar opposite. Teaming with producer Don Gehman, who previously worked with John Mellencamp, R.E.M. developed their most forceful record to date. Where previous records kept the rhythm section in the background, Pageant emphasizes the beat, and the band turns in its hardest rockers to date, including the anthemic "Begin the Begin" and the punky "Just a Touch." But the cleaner production also benefits the ballads and the midtempo janglers, particularly since it helps reveal Michael Stipe's growing political obsessions, especially on the environmental anthems "Fall on Me" and "Cuyahoga." R.E.M. haven't entirely left myths behind -- witness the Civil War ballad "Swan Swan H" -- but they sound more contemporary both musically and lyrically than they did on either Fables or Murmur, which helps give the record an extra kick. And even with excellent songs like "I Believe," "Flowers of Guatemala," "These Days," and "What If We Give It Away?," it's ironic that the most memorable moment comes from the garage rock obscurity "Superman," which is sung with glee by Mike Mills. [EMI’s deluxe 25th anniversary edition of Lifes Rich Pageant sidesteps some of the bonus tracks and B-sides added onto the 1993 U.K. IRS Vintage Years reissue in favor of a full disc of live demos cut in Athens, Georgia. This is similar to the tactic for the 25th anniversary edition of Fables of the Reconstruction, and if the live disc here isn’t as galvanizing or revelatory as the one on Fables -- which did benefit from lifting some of the inherent murk of Joe Boyd’s production -- it’s nevertheless equally fascinating. Of particular interest is the sizable number of rough and unfinished songs, including the unreleased songs “Two Steps Onward,” “Mystery to Me,” and “Wait” (plus the instrumental snippet “Out of Tune”). None of these are major songs -- although “Mystery to Me” possesses the hurtling energy of “All the Right Friends,” “Bad Day,” and “Just a Touch” -- but they’re quite strong also-rans and sit nicely next to the embryonic “King of Birds” (titled “March Song” here), the rough instrumental early draft of “Underneath the Bunker” called “Salsa,” a “Fall on Me” where Michael Stipe is fumbling his way through the words, and an “I Believe” where he largely hums the melody. The rest of the live disc is devoted to run-throughs of the rest of the album (plus “Rotary Ten”) that are hardly short on infectious energy even if the bandmembers are still getting a handle on where they want to take these songs. It’s a true treat for any longtime, hardcore fan of R.E.M.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Format: Compact Disc

Released Date: July 12, 2011

Genre: Alternative

Style: Rock & Pop

Number of Discs: 2

Stereo/Mono: Stereo

Label Name: I.R.S. Records

UPC: 5099908244727

Found in: Alternative

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– More About This Product –

Lifes Rich Pageant

Lifes Rich Pageant

Performers R.E.M.

Format: Compact Disc

Released Date: July 12, 2011

Genre: Alternative

Style: Rock & Pop

Number of Discs: 2

Stereo/Mono: Stereo

Label Name: I.R.S. Records

UPC: 5099908244727


Title Track Time
0.DISC 1: --
1.Begin the Begin --
2.These Days --
3.Fall On Me --
4.Cuyahoga --
5.Hyena --
6.Underneath the Bunker --
7.Flowers of Guatemala, The --
8.I Believe --
9.What If We Give It Away? --
10.Just a Touch --
11.Swan Swan H --
12.Superman --
0.DISC 2: --
1.Fall On Me --
2.Hyena --
3.March Song (King of Birds) --
4.These Days --
5.Bad Day --
6.Salsa (Underneath the Bunker) --
7.Swan Swan H --
8.Flowers of Guatemala --
9.Begin the Begin --
10.Cuyahoga --
11.I Believe --
12.Out of Tune --
13.Jazz (Rotary Ten) --
14.Two Steps Onward --
15.Just a Touch --
16.Mystery To Me --
17.Wait --
18.All the Right Friends --
19.Get On Their Way (What If We Give It Away?) --

Editorial Notes

Fables of the Reconstruction was intentionally murky, and Lifes Rich Pageant was constructed as its polar opposite. Teaming with producer Don Gehman, who previously worked with John Mellencamp, R.E.M. developed their most forceful record to date. Where previous records kept the rhythm section in the background, Pageant emphasizes the beat, and the band turns in its hardest rockers to date, including the anthemic "Begin the Begin" and the punky "Just a Touch." But the cleaner production also benefits the ballads and the midtempo janglers, particularly since it helps reveal Michael Stipe's growing political obsessions, especially on the environmental anthems "Fall on Me" and "Cuyahoga." R.E.M. haven't entirely left myths behind -- witness the Civil War ballad "Swan Swan H" -- but they sound more contemporary both musically and lyrically than they did on either Fables or Murmur, which helps give the record an extra kick. And even with excellent songs like "I Believe," "Flowers of Guatemala," "These Days," and "What If We Give It Away?," it's ironic that the most memorable moment comes from the garage rock obscurity "Superman," which is sung with glee by Mike Mills. [EMI’s deluxe 25th anniversary edition of Lifes Rich Pageant sidesteps some of the bonus tracks and B-sides added onto the 1993 U.K. IRS Vintage Years reissue in favor of a full disc of live demos cut in Athens, Georgia. This is similar to the tactic for the 25th anniversary edition of Fables of the Reconstruction, and if the live disc here isn’t as galvanizing or revelatory as the one on Fables -- which did benefit from lifting some of the inherent murk of Joe Boyd’s production -- it’s nevertheless equally fascinating. Of particular interest is the sizable number of rough and unfinished songs, including the unreleased songs “Two Steps Onward,” “Mystery to Me,” and “Wait” (plus the instrumental snippet “Out of Tune”). None of these are major songs -- although “Mystery to Me” possesses the hurtling energy of “All the Right Friends,” “Bad Day,” and “Just a Touch” -- but they’re quite strong also-rans and sit nicely next to the embryonic “King of Birds” (titled “March Song” here), the rough instrumental early draft of “Underneath the Bunker” called “Salsa,” a “Fall on Me” where Michael Stipe is fumbling his way through the words, and an “I Believe” where he largely hums the melody. The rest of the live disc is devoted to run-throughs of the rest of the album (plus “Rotary Ten”) that are hardly short on infectious energy even if the bandmembers are still getting a handle on where they want to take these songs. It’s a true treat for any longtime, hardcore fan of R.E.M.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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