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R.E.M. for the People

29 Mar, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

Everybody hurts, as the R.E.M. song says, but the band's fans should be feeling no pain these days.

Warner Music Group started the month with a bang, reissuing the band's nine-title catalog with the label in double-disc CD+DVD sets March 1.

“They're already doing quite well,” said Peter Standish, SVP of marketing for WMG. “We saw a big renewal of interest in all of R.E.M's catalog thanks to the releases.”

The supplier would have liked to time the catalog reissue to the band's newest album, Around the Sun, which streeted in October of last year, Standish said, but 5.1 surround sound mixes take time. Each of the reissued discs feature a DVD component with the enhanced sound as well as visual elements such as photos, live performances, music videos and interview footage. The sets are $24.98 each.

“We have a lot of amazing stuff that was never released commercially,” he said. “There's something special on each release.”

It's not like these days, when everyone has digital video recorders and a lot of video content to choose from, he said. WMG went back to the vaults for behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, some of it originally filmed for electronic press kits, Standish said.

“We had a lot of footage that had just been used promotionally, and the DVD format really lent itself to showcasing it,” he said. Each disc also includes Web links, an expanded booklet with new liner notes and archival photos.

More important, he said, the sound mixes are of a better quality than anything downloadable, legally or otherwise. They were remixed by Grammy-winning engineer Eliot Scheiner.

The titles included in the R.E.M. catalog reissue, and some of the DVD elements they sport beyond the Surround Sound mixes, are:

Green (1989) — DVD extras include an unreleased documentary video and two live performances from the group's Tour Film DVD.

Out of Time (1991) — DVD extras include the unreleased “Time Piece” documentary, which mixed band member interviews with commentaries about the album's songs.

Automatic for the People (1992) — DVD extras include a short film set in Athens, Ga., made to support the release featuring in-studio footage of the band.

Monster (1994) — DVD has interviews with the band and unreleased live performances.

New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1996) — DVD features an unreleased video documentary.

Up (1998) — DVD includes extracts from the unreleased film Uptake, featuring three songs and interview footage.

Reveal (2001) — DVD includes a documentary on the album and a remixed video for “I'll Take the Rain.”

In Time: The Best of R.E.M. (2003) — DVD extras include the video for “Bad Day” in both the standard and multi-angle version.

Around the Sun (2004) — DVD includes lyrics, a photo gallery and unreleased video footage.

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