.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/rem-1399046966.jpg Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions

R.E.M.

Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions

Rhino
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
May 19, 2014

No band but Nirvana made more breathtakingly transformative use of MTV Unplugged than R.E.M., the only act to headline the show twice. This set of 33 songs, 11 of which never aired, revisits both sessions, boiling their magical greatness down to two base elements: achingly sugared melodies and Michael Stipe's potent voice, in all its deep grain, swooning vibrato and radiant empathy. 

The '91 sessions came just as the semi-acoustic Out of Time was taking R.E.M. from big to huge. The hits "Losing My Religion" and "Radio Song" (appealingly rap-less here) gain intimacy; ditto beloved deep cuts like "Perfect Circle," even more of a 4 a.m. confidence than the Murmur original. B-listers – "Disturbance at the Heron House," "Fretless," "Half a World Away," "Low," "Swan Swan H" – bloom in wonderful new ways, as Stipe recalibrates phrasing and Mike Mills repositions his fragile backing vocals. By 2001, drummer Bill Berry and some of the campfire vibe are gone. But new songs like "At My Most Beautiful," with its neo-Beach Boys harmonies, and the elegiac bubblegum of "Imitation of Life" show a band that could still sucker-punch hearts, while quietly magnificent takes on "Cuyahoga" and "So. Central Rain" conjure the same triumphant melancholy they did in the last century. How about a reunion like this in 2021, guys?

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Wake Up Everybody”

    John Legend and the Roots | 2010

    A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com