The 25th Anniversary Edition of R.E.M.’s Up includes a plethora of bonus material, most notably a previously unreleased live recording of the band's guest appearance on the '90s hit TV series, Party Of Five.
In the career of alt-rock pioneers R.E.M., the year 1998 marked a pivotal juncture. It was the year of Up, a record that reflected a band transformed. With founding drummer Bill Berry having amicably departed, the trio of Michael Stipe, Mike Mills,, and Peter Buck faced an unprecedented challenge. It was a crossroads that demanded innovation and resilience. Berry's absence cast a shadow, but rather than seeking a direct replacement, R.E.M. chose the path of reinvention. San Francisco's Toast Studios served as the creative center where they ventured into uncharted territory. Their decision to forego filling Berry's seat ignited a bold exploration of electronic elements, including drum machines, tape loops, and synthesizers. "Once we made the decision to continue without Bill, we had to look at it as a freeing thing, otherwise why do it at all?" reflects Mills. This transformative moment became a brave new world of unexplored possibilities.
In the producer’s seat sat Pat McCarthy, known for his work with U2 and Counting Crows, with assistance from Nigel Godrich, himself poised on the brink of success with Radiohead's OK Computer. Their collaboration was instrumental in shaping the album's unique sound. McCarthy's mastery of programming breathed life into the electronic elements, lending Up a cohesiveness that still defied categorization. It defied the band's own conventions, ushering in an era of experimentation that drew inspiration from diverse sources like Brian Eno, Leonard Cohen, and the Beach Boys. The resulting sound merged vintage flavors with the futuristic vibes of electronic music. It was a bold departure from the jangly, guitar-driven rock that had catapulted R.E.M. to superstardom in the first place, but still yielded several memorable singles, including "Daysleeper," "Lotus," "Suspicion," and "At My Most Beautiful."
Now, as the 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Up is upon us, we’re treated to some great bonus material. Notably, it includes a previously unreleased live set from the band's guest appearance on the '90s hit TV series Party Of Five. The performance, captured in 1999, features the full 11-song setlist that includes massive hits like "Man On The Moon," "Losing My Religion," and "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
The Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray edition offers even more. Alongside the live set, it includes a spoken-word introduction, HD music videos from the album ("Daysleeper," "Lotus," "At My Most Beautiful"), a six-song performance from the era titled Uptake, recorded in a London studio, the album's original EPK, and stunning high-resolution and 5.1 surround sound audio. Housed in a 32-page hardcover book, this collection is a celebration of a band that has defied conventions and never feared change. Journalist Josh Modell (A.V. Club, SPIN, Rolling Stone), delivers the liner notes, featuring fresh interviews with the band members. Up is described by Modell as "The beautiful but misunderstood, complex but overlooked, difficult but incredibly rewarding red-headed stepchild of the R.E.M. catalog." He contends that it "features some of the best songs R.E.M. ever committed to tape."