R.E.M. Builds a Bigger Monster

An album that was represented in every used CD discount bin 24 years ago, usually with multiple copies, R.E.M.’s Monster is now getting the expanded reissue treatment.

The new deluxe edition of the band’s ninth album, originally released in 1994, will be available in various physical formats, as well as digital, come November 1. The bulkiest of these – a 5-CD/1 Blu-ray box set – will include the original album, a fresh remix of it from producer Scott Litt (including entirely different vocal takes and instrumental parts), a bunch of demos, audio of a full live show recorded in Chicago on the band’s 1995 tour, and – on the Blu-ray – a concert film from the tour and all the music videos for the singles from it.

Monster is not an album that has aged particularly well. The band’s attempts to largely abandon their signature sound in favor of glammy plastic alt-rock seemed awkward and cheesy then, and even more so now; they never were going to be Sonic Youth, or Smashing Pumpkins, or Stone Temple Pilots, or whatever the fuck they were shooting for. Perhaps Litt’s overhaul/remix will redeem it in some way, but the new mix of “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” released in advance of Monster25, actually weakens the impact by erasing the tremolo guitar! Whatev… Wake me up when they do the New Adventures 25th anniversary edition, it’s a far stronger album.

Photo by Keith Carter.