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Green was R.E.M.’s first release after signing a deal for a rumoured $6 Million to Warner Bros. The boys were leaving Miles Copeland’s IRS, a label they’d been with since 1981. This would help their recordings get better distribution outside of America. Released in 1988, Green captured a band on the verge of mega stardom; a band on the edge of change and a band fed up with touring. It was also a time when their political attitudes began to boil over and become more public.

Green
The Album
Green is a transitional album, it indicated the experimental route R.E.M. were beginning to take, their influences were changing and so was their sound. It was a subtle adjustment but they were defiantly changing lanes. The band themselves deliberately set out to make an album that didn’t sound like R.E.M..

It’s angry but sensitive, of its time but from anytime and delicate with rockin’ guitars. Because it’s filled with these musical contradictions it still sounds fresh some seventeen years after it was recorded.

Starting with Pop Song 89, a track destined to become a set list favourite, kicks the album off well, immediately grabbing you attention which flows into Get Up which continuous this more access R.E.M. sound. Its haunting music box in the middle section remains incredibly eerie.

Green
The beautiful You Are the Everything reminds us of their folk roots with its gentle mandolin and chirping sound effects. Stipe’s vocal stabs through in classic R.E.M. style. In complete contrast, Stand which follows, is probably their most commercial sounding single to that date with strong chorus, childlike ringing bell and smart guitar solo in the middle.

World Leader Pretend is also early R.E.M. with better production values but
The Wrong Child is the weakest track of the album. Peter Buck gets his mandolin out again for this slow track that has too much echo and is repetitive.

They return to hard guitar rock with Orange Crush, as song about Agent Orange, the defoliant used by American Troops during Vietnam. It’s the albums strongest track, filled with anger and a roaring message. It’s also the best 5.1 remixed track. Turn You Inside-Out is also a fine rock song, deep and brooding with a dark edge to it. Mike Mill’s backing vocal is haunting and filled with angst. It also displays what a fine drummer Bill Berry was.

Green
The album becomes personal during Hairshirt, a track that’s been cruelly overlooked over the years with acoustic instruments coming to the front. I Remember California is based on the idea of the State falling into the sea because of man made causes and is probably the albums strongest track. Stipe’s ecological lyrics have never been stronger and evoke many images.

The album finishes with a track that has no name on the cover. It’s quirky and pleasant, but basically R.E.M. by numbers.

Image Quality
The extras on the disc have been transferred from what seems to be NTSC video masters and so don’t have that much detail to them. Colours are sometimes incredibly garish and the whole thing lacks any real detail. The menus are pin-sharp though and have various scenes form R.E.M. promo videos showing—even the uncensored version of Pop Song 89.

Green
Audio Quality
You can choose between a few different sound mixes: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, DVD-A Advanced Resolution Stereo and Surround. Obviously the DVD-A versions are the highest quality of the lot. Both have an exceptional tone to them with Stipe’s vocal sounding as clear as the day it was recorded. It makes such a difference to the audio experience, especially during vocal heavy tracks such as Turn You Inside-Out. Even in stereo there's much to gain from this release.

For those without DVD-A players there is still much to be gained from investing in this collector’s edition. Orange Crush is a prime example of how superb surround mixing can be and add to an albums atmosphere. The rears are used to maximum effect, never there just to add the odd hand clap or music stab, but used to create a feeling of depth. Instruments, especially the drums take on a new solid tone which add slight amounts of aggression to tracks such as Get Up

Green
Extras
The disc contains some interesting material, something you don’t normally expect on a normal DVD-A release. For starters this is a deluxe edition and contains a CD which holds the original album on it as well as a small booklet with entertaining sleeve notes.

The unreleased video documentary is a promotional interview recorded in 1988 to announce the release of Green. It contains the full promo video for Orange Crush and Stand. All four members are interviewed over its twenty-five minute duration with Stipe getting the most airtime.

The Discography and Videography sections are basically pictures of the product and its track listing. Didn’t realise they’d released so many videos. The very small but perfectly assembled photo Gallery is a fine collection of snaps of the band. A Weblink to the official R.E.M. website rounds off the extras package.

Overall
Even though the band set out to produce a non-R.E.M. sounding album, this is classic sounding R.E.M.. Stipe is at the front here, vocals loud, proud and totally audible. What was to follow would put them at the top of the music pile for the first time. R.E.M. world domination would soon follow.


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