Thursday, April 29, 2010

Instrumentals: R.E.M. B-Sides

At the risk once again of becoming the guy who only posts R.E.M. songs... here's another post full of R.E.M. songs. The difference in this post being that most of these are rarities that only the most hardcore fans know about. These are all non-album tracks that mainly appeared as B-side recordings to singles the band put out at various points in their career. They mostly exist just to show a different side of the band that didn't always make it to the records. The "purchase" link for this post simply points to the R.E.M. store at

R.E.M.'s studio sessions typically yield many of these types of recordings. Peter Buck says he writes hundreds of songs every year, and many of them end up as nothing more than musical workouts for the band in the studio. Buck has also said that recording sessions for each R.E.M. album can produce roughly 20 or 30 of these "unfinished songs."

Some of these musical nuggets are born out of other songs... "Memphis Train Blues" was an improvised piece performed in the studio after the band grew tired of playing the repetitive chord structure of the song "Hairshirt" from Green. Drummer Bill Berry plays mandolin.

Some of them started out as jokes and just kept hanging around... "Tricycle" was a goofy exercise that grew out of sound checks during the Monster tour. Guitarist Peter Buck says the song kept getting "stupider and stupider" as they worked it out, but they were having too much fun to stop playing it. Buck originally wanted to call it "Four Wheels to Hell" but felt "Tricycle" was much less melodramatic.

Some are self explanitory... "Fruity Organ" and "Mandolin Strum" would seem to need no explanation.

Others just kind of appeared and had no where else to go... "New Orleans Instrumental #2" came out of the Automatic for the People sessions and was recorded the same day as that album's "New Orleans Instrumental #1." "Winged Mammal Theme" was submitted to Tim Burton for inclusion on one of the Batman movie soundtracks. It didn't make the cut.

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