Monday, January 28, 2008

The Acoustic Lounge - R.E.M - MTV Unplugged

R.E.M.’s first appearance on MTV Unplugged took place on April 10, 1991, the year the band came to worldwide attention, at Chelsea Studios in New York City. The band, along with hired hand Peter Holsapple, lined up on stools in front of an invited audience. Michael Stipe defied the studio lights by wearing the black fisherman’s hat he favored that year and a three-quarter-length mustard-colored coat (over a yellow shirt, no less), although for the latter part of the set he did resort to rolling the legs of his jeans up over his knees.

Of the less predictable selections, "It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" was the strangest candidate for an acoustic revamp, and it certainly didn't occur to the band themselves initially, as Stipe announced that it was a last-minute request from MTV. Indeed, they had to have the lyric faxed through from Athens. The vocals, for their part, received more care and attention than it had on the Green tour, and the attempt amused both the band and the audience alike.

Although the edited broadcast program was structured like a non-stop concert, recording actually took two hours. In addition to breaks while the band members exchanged instruments and Berry went to the men's room, there were delays while technical adjustments were made. During these moments, the band entertained themselves and the audience by playing a quartet of cover versions: Classics IV's "Spooky", the Undisputed Truth's "Smiling Faces Sometimes", "Egyptian Reggae" (Jonathan Richman), and J. J. Jackson's "But it's Alright". They also recorded second takes of "Disturbance at the Heron House" (Buck having broken a string during the first attempt) and "World Leader Pretend". The latter song, "Fretless", "Swan Swan H", and "Get Up" were subsequently dropped from the final running order, which aired on April 24, 1991:

The cover of Reg Presley's "Love Is all Around" was subsequently included on the longform video This Film Is On. A photograph taken during the performance by Retna’s Frank Micelotta can be found in the image section in the middle of Adventures in Hi-Fi: The Complete R.E.M., a book written by Rob Jovanovic and Tim Abbott, issued in 2001.


1. "World Leader Pretend"

2. "Half a World Away"

3. "Disturbance at the Heron House"

4. "Spooky" (Classics IV)

5. "Fretless"

6. "Swan Swan H"

7. "Smiling Faces Sometimes" (Undisputed Truth)

8. "Radio Song"

9. "Low"

10. "But it's Alright" (J. J. Jackson)

11. "Perfect Circle"

12. "Fall on Me"

13. "Belong"

14. "Egyptian Reggae" (Jonathan Richman)

15. "Love Is All Around" (Reg Presley)

16. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

17. "Losing My Religion"

18. "Pop Song 89"

19. "Get Up"

20. "World Leader Pretend" (re-take)

21. "Disturbance at the Heron House" (re-take)

22. "Endgame"


1. "Half a World Away"

2. "Disturbance at the Heron House"

3. "Radio Song"

4. "Low"

5. "Perfect Circle"

6. "Fall on Me"

7. "Belong"

8. "Love Is All Around" (Reg Presley)

9. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

10. "Losing My Religion"

11. "Pop Song 89

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could you please repost this REM show? Thanks a million