REM, Murmur (Deluxe edition)

(Polydor)

REM's near-flawless debut album has had a quick wash and brush-up, and loses a star as a result. Murmur's appeal has always been based, in part, on its very murkiness. On its arrival it sounded like a field recording from a place unknown, lush with mystery and promise, its secrets revealed gradually. This remaster, by Greg Calbi, brings all those secrets - the ingredients whose taste lingered in the background without overwhelming the dish - to the fore, with sometimes unfortunate results: who knew, or wanted to know, that the second half of Pilgrimage was a veritable festival of bongos? These intrusions detract from the songs, and would have been better left interred in the mix. But the songs remain impeccable, and on occasion are helped by the new clarity: the contrast between the spindly verses and lush choruses of Talk About the Passion only amplifies its power. For those who already own Murmur, the draw is a second CD of a complete contemporary live show, which shows how thrilling a band
REM were so early in their career.

Contributor

Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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