Friday, 16 June 2017

The hidden world of R.E.M. #11

As I mentioned in a previous post, R.E.M.'s fan club releases were rather hit and miss affairs, but more than a few times they'd offer up something intriguing, worthy even. So this week I'm giving you three tracks from the mid-90s fan club singles. First up, 1995's single included a cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game which sounds even more laid back than the original. Stipe adopts a higher tone than Isaak did, but it somehow works. I reckon if they'd spent a bit more time on this they could have had a more than passable b-side on their hands.

That's more than can be said for the following year's rendition of I Will Survive. The band I used to be in played this song for a while, and - dare I say it - our version was better than this. Marginally. Stipe doesn't know the words and gives up twice, Mills plays a rather gloomy organ part and Buck's acoustic guitar just tries to keep things going. Like I said, they could be hit and miss affairs...

In 1998, the band teamed up with Radiohead for the fan club single. Two live tracks, side one featured Stipe fronting The 'Head for Lucky, and side two had Thom Yorke singing Patti Smith's part on E-Bow The Letter. I've opted for the latter today. It's not the best performance or recording on the planet, but it is what it is and it's one for the 'intriguing' category. The best bit, surprisingly, is Thom letting rip towards the end.



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