R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction 25th Anniversary Edition CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Sunday, July 25, 2010

R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction 25th Anniversary Edition CD Review

STREAM: R.E.M. - "Throw Those Trolls Away" aka "When I Was Young"

R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction 25th Anniversary Edition CD Review"Legacy" and "anniversary" edition releases seem to be the latest cash-in effort from the major labels and I've found these discs, in general, to be either spot-on or rubbish (with very little middle ground). Unfortunately, the reissue of R.E.M.'s third disc, Fables of the Reconstruction, falls into this later category. This two disc set includes a remastered version of Fables of the Reconstruction along with a second disc which contains fourteen tracks recorded at an Athens rehearsal in February 1985 prior to the band's heading off to England to record Fables.

R.E.M. always seemed to attract both the record collectors and the tapers as they released numerous non-LP b-sides and were still playing a number of eclectic cover tunes in concert so there is a lot of material that could have been included on this release. At a minimum, I would have expected the non-LP singles ("Crazy" (Pylon Cover), "Burning Hell", "Bandwagon" and "Driver 8" (live)) that were on the 90's IRS reissue of Fables to be used to flesh out the 40 minute studio disc. Unfortunately, Disc One has no bonus tracks.

The Athens rehearsals on Disc Two are interesting but non-essential and incomplete. The fourteen tracks cover all eleven tracks from Fables plus "Bandwagon", "Hyena" and "Throw Those Trolls Away" (which was originally known as "When I Was Young" and later morphed into "I Believe"). While played at a bit slower tempo, these rehearsal versions aren't radically different from the final LP versions. Where I get a bit grumpy is that the original rehearsal was seventeen tracks and "Just A Touch", "Theme from Two Steps Onward" and "Burning Hell" aren't included on Disc 2.

For the long-time fan looking to upgrade from their vinyl version of Fables of the Reconstruction, this might be an interesting (yet somewhat expensive) option. I don't see this appealing to the casual fan...if you have been in a cave for the last 25 years and haven't heard this disc, go chase down the IRS reissue which you can probably find cheap in a used CD shop.