Life’s Rich Pageant

Yesterday, R.E.M. announced that they were disbanding after over three decades of music-making. I’m a big fan of the first half of their career, though not so much the last fifteen years. That period coincided with the departure of drummer Bill Berry and, for me, I feel the band should have gone their separate ways then as well. Nevertheless, I still count albums such as Murmer, Reckoning, Document and Green amongst my favourites by a band that I saw twice in concert. The first time was Slane in 1995 in a rather eccentric lineup that also included Sharon Shannon and Oasis. They were much better three years later at Lansdowne Road when they were ably supported by The Divine Comedy. Today, I revisit a post I wrote two years ago in response to one I’d just read in another blog. The files associated with the original post are no longer available, so here’s the post in its entirety along with three covers performed by R.E.M. This one goes out to John, Dan and Erin, three friends of mine who’ll be listening to some R.E.M. over the next few days

Remembering R.E.M. (originally published April 8, 2009)

Cover Lay Down is one of my favourite blogs and I’ve been following it since its inception in 2007. It’s a music blog and each song on the site is a cover version. In addition, all the songs featured are either covers of folk artists or folk versions of songs by non-folk performers. Last weekend, the band chosen for coverage was REM, the Athens, Georgia outfit who have been performing for nearly three decades now. The post features ten covers of REM songs plus three tracks covered by REM. You should definitely check out the versions by Grant Lee Phillips, Rosie Thomas and Redbird as well as REM’s brilliant version of Gentle on My Mind, a song made famous by Glen Campbell. Below you’ll find three more songs covered by REM. The original performers of these songs are certainly not folk performers, but I think that REM bring an element of folk to each of the tracks. Only one of the songs features drums and all three feature some nicely strummed acoustic guitar and at least two of them feature acoustic bass

The Troggs were an English group who had a number of hits in the sixties, most notably Wild Thing. Love Is All Around was a top ten hit for them in Britain and the US in the late sixties. In 1991, they made an album called Athens Andover with three members of REM. In the same year, REM recorded Love Is All Around as a b-side of their single, Radio Song, and also for their MTV Unplugged appearance. The song features bassist Mike Mills on lead vocals with Michael Stipe not doing too badly on backing vocals. Apparently, the song was also a hit for an alliterative English band a few years later, although that particular version seems to reside somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain

Love is All Around (The Troggs cover) – R.E.M.

Arms of Love was the b-side of Man on the Moon (1993) from their album Automatic For the People (1992). The song was written by Robyn Hitchcock and would appear to have been kicking around on live albums by him since 1991. Hitchcock began his career in the late seventies with The Soft Boys and has mainly been backed by the Egyptians as a solo artist. He has also appeared with REM’s Peter Buck in The Venus 3. He is not related to Alfred, but has made minor appearances in two films by Jonathon Demme, who also directed Storefront Hitchcock, a live gig filmed in a department store

Arms Of Love (Robyn Hitchcock cover) – R.E.M.

REM performed a version of the Editors‘ Munich for BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge series in March 2008. The Editors’ original version appears on their debut album, The Back Room (2005). The song was also covered for the BBC by Corinne Bailey Rae in 2006. The Editors had previously covered REM’s Orange Crush

Munich (Editors cover) – R.E.M.


5 thoughts on “Life’s Rich Pageant

  1. Pingback: Dancing at the Zombie Zoo | Town Full of Losers

    • Cheers, Boyhowdy! I’ve updated the above link to the repost. Thanks a million for all the great covers you’ve posted over the years

  2. I didn’t buy the Man on the Moon single when it came out, but I heard that version of ‘Arms of love’ on a collection called Single Action Green. It was b-sides and out-takes from the Out of Time/Automatic for the people, days. A dead letter office warner bros. style

    • It’s a good song and it even sounds like an R.E.M. song. I’m sure loads more of those kind of compilations will start to surface now that the band has jacked it in

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