B0012251-02 Murmur
Produced by Mitch Easter and Don Dixon
Released on March 12, 1983
US CHART POSITION #36 . . . GOLD RECORD
Find it at GEMM
B0012251-02 cover
[high resolution scan]

K ronomyth 1.0: RADICAL FREEZE, YOU’RE UP. The first time you heard “Radio Free Europe,” you became part of something young and hip and fresh called alternative rock. You didn’t know what to call it, of course, because “alternative rock” hadn’t been invented yet. But you knew it was something illicit, loosed like pirate radio over the airwaves to wreak havoc and change the established order of things. On Murmur, the band’s first long-play record, R.E.M. took the hybrid music of The Byrds (most noticeable in Peter Buck’s arpeggiated Rickenbacker) and added punk and angst to create a completely new hybrid. At the center of it all was Michael Stipe, spokesmen for the unheard and misunderstood, whose incoherence articulated the frustration and isolation of a generation. Behind them, Mike Mills provided the punch and elasticity with his outstanding bass playing and backing vocals while Bill Berry could kick up a storm (“West of the Fields”) or lay it down like gentle rain on a ballad (“Perfect Circle”). Murmur for many (myself included) remains the band’s best album, perhaps because it was the beneficiary of much practice. Many of the songs recorded for Murmur had already been a part of the band’s setlist for a year or two. Songs like “Moral Kiosk,” “Sitting Still” and “Laughing” feel lived in, while “Radio Free Europe” was already in its second incarnation at this stage. The Deluxe Edition of Murmur (and gripe all you want about the price, it’s still worth it) includes a July 1983 show that features most of Murmur and pretty much nails it track by track. One of the few “new” tracks on Murmur, “Talk About The Passion,” feels almost brittle compared to the rest of the album (although it’s still a great song) and you can’t help but wonder if a year of maturation wouldn’t have loosened some of its rigidity. The punk influence (check out the Gang of Four-styled “9-9”) and humor (“We Walk,” “Shaking Through”) would fade with time, replaced by a more studied songcraft as R.E.M. shifted from countercurrent to mainstream rock artists. Murmur is both too inexperienced to be self-conscious and too young not to be. It cannot be reproduced, this murmur against the steel and glass of the status quo; it can only be replayed.

B0012251-02 picture sleeve
B0012251-02 picture sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. RADIO FREE EUROPE
  2. PILGRIMAGE
  3. LAUGHING
  4. TALK ABOUT THE PASSION
  5. MORAL KIOSK
  6. PERFECT CIRCLE
  7. CATAPULT
  8. SITTING STILL
  9. 9-9
  10. SHAKING THROUGH
  11. WE WALK
  12. WEST OF THE FIELDS    (Bill Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe/Neil Bogan)

    JPN/NET CD reissue bonus tracks
  13. THERE SHE GOES AGAIN    (Lou Reed)
  14. 9-9 (LIVE)
  15. GARDENING AT NIGHT (LIVE)
  16. CATAPULT (LIVE)

    Disc Two: Live At Larry's Hideaway (Toronto, Canada, July 9, 1983)
  17. LAUGHING
  18. PILGRIMAGE
  19. THERE SHE GOES AGAIN    (Lou Reed)
  20. 7 CHINESE BROS.
  21. TALK ABOUT THE PASSION
  22. SITTING STILL
  23. HARBORCOAT
  24. CATAPULT
  25. GARDENING AT NIGHT
  26. 9-9
  27. JUST A TOUCH
  28. WEST OF THE FIELDS    (Bill Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe/Neil Bogan)
  29. RADIO FREE EUROPE
  30. WE WALK
  31. 1,000,000
  32. CARNIVAL OF SORTS (BOX CARS)

    All songs by Bill Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe unless noted

CREDITS

BILL BERRY --
PETER BUCK --
MIKE MILLS --
MICHAEL STIPE --
Don Dixon -- engineer
Mitch Easter -- engineering
Ann Kinney -- cover collaboration
Carl Grasso -- cover collaboration
Sandra Lee Phipps -- cover collaboration, photographs

return to R.E.M. discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US/UK April 12, 1983 I.R.S. LP/CS SP/CS-70604  
AUSL 1983 I.R.S. LP ELPS-4380  
JPN 1983 CBS LP 25AP-2659  
NET 1983 I.R.S. LP ILP 465378-1  
US   I.R.S. LP/CD/CS SP/CD/CS-70014 picture sleeve
JPN   CBS CD CSCS-6080  
UK   I.R.S. CD/CS CDMID/CMID-129  
JPN 1992 EMI CDX TOCP-7266 w. bonus tracks
NET   I.R.S. CDX 13158-2 w. bonus tracks
US 1995 Mobile Fidelity LP MFSL-1-231 200g vinyl, original master recording, gatefold cover
US 1996 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-642 original master recording
JPN 2005 EMI/I.R.S. CDX TOCP-53571 w. bonus tracks
US November 24, 2008 I.R.S. 2CD B0012251-02 Deluxe Edition remaster w. bonus live disc
UK 2008 I.R.S. 2CD 1788288 Deluxe Edition remaster w. bonus live disc
UK 2009 Universal LP 2707005 180g vinyl digital remaster

 

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