The reflection on their 15-album legacy comes following the release of the second season of the award-winning drama The Bear, which features a number of the band’s tracks – including multiple iterations of ‘Monster’ album classic ‘Strange Currencies’.
Now, in an NME exclusive, frontman Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry have hand-selected their top 40 songs from their past for a playlist of their personal favourites.
Of the 40-track playlist, each member of R.E.M chose their top 10 tracks, with Stipe choosing the first quarter of the playlist – which kicks off with ‘World Leader Pretend’, a track from their 1988 album ‘Green’.
From there, tracks 11-20 are hand-picked by Buck, and include songs ‘All The Way To Reno’ and deep-cut ‘You’re In The Air’, while tracks 21-30 are chosen by Mills and feature fan-favourites ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’ , ‘Orange Crush’ and ‘What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?’.
The final 10 songs on the playlist are the favourites of drummer Bill Berry and includes the lesser-known song ‘Rotary Ten’ – from their 1986 album ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’ – as well as hit 1992 track ‘Find The River’. Check out the full playlist below.
Released in the UK earlier last week, the latest episodes of The Bear have seen yet another resurgence in popularity for the iconic rock band. This comes as it frequently includes tracks from their discography, including multiple iterations of their track ‘Strange Currencies’.
Taken from their ninth studio album, ‘Monster’, these variations include the original 1994 mix, a Scott Litt remix created in 2019 and a never-before-heard demo of the song that is shared exclusively for the show.
Additionally, R.E.M and the show’s creators at FX also joined forces to create a new full-length music video for the song – combining footage from the band’s 1995 tour alongside clips from the series, check it out below.
‘Half A World Away’, lifted from the band’s 1991 smash hit album ‘Out Of Time’, also makes a key appearance in the final episode of season two, and the integration of the band’s tracks is partly due to the creators – Christopher Storer, and Executive Producer Josh Senior – both being longtime fans of the band.
The partnership, however, also arrives as the band’s frontman has openly declared himself one of the series’ biggest fans. “The Bear is hands down my favourite show of last year… Having incorporated R.E.M. songs into their universe makes it even sweeter,” he said in a press release. “The best people at any party are always in the kitchen!”
Bassist Mike Mills also shared his fondness for the series, stating: “I’m so glad The Bear exists. It has become one of my favourite TV shows, and I can’t wait to watch more of it.”
Back in 2019, the band spoke with NME about their ‘Monster’ album – which contained the newly resurfaced track ‘Strange Currencies’ – on what was its 25th anniversary.
Speaking with Andrew Trendell, the band reflected upon their mindset when recording the album, and discussed how their sound was impacted by both external factors, as well as their attitude towards their new-found fame.
“A lot had happened to us and in the world since our last world tour in 1989. Culture had shifted, politics had shifted, things had changed dramatically. We were a part of that change, or perhaps inspired part of that in music and culture,” began Stipe.
“We found ourselves in this position of being incredibly more famous than we had ever been before … so we needed to do something really loud and raw,” he continued. “We turned to our love of glam-rock in the early ‘70s and the influence that it had on us as musicians and as fanboys. That was the beginning of ‘Monster’.”
Mills agreed, adding how the album was a balance between both a lively sound and darker undertones. “There are some conflicted characters in those songs – but the music is upbeat, and uplifting, or it should be for the most part,” he explained. “On the other hand, we were ready to have a good time, go hit the stage and leave the place feeling positive. Part of that noise and the fun of the record overlays some darker characters on the album. That’s what we were after.”
Speaking of album anniversaries, this year also marks four decades since the members released their iconic debut album ‘Murmur’ in 1983. Back in 2008, the band re-released the album to mark its 25th anniversary.
Fans are also eagerly awaiting news of Michael Stipe’s debut solo album – which he said “should come together” at some point in 2023.
Craft Recordings continues to celebrate the band’s enduring legacy through vinyl reissues with their long-out-of-print albums 2004’s ‘Around the Sun’, 2011’s ‘Collapse Into Now’, ‘Reveal’ (2001) and ‘Accelerate’ (2008). Order them all here.