R.E.M. rolled out plans this week for a deluxe reissue of their 1995 hit album Monster. The four-CD, one–Blu-ray set will feature a remastered version of the album, unheard demos, a new remix of the disc, a complete concert from the Chicago stop of the Monster tour, the tour documentary Road Movie, and six music videos. It will be released on November 1st.
Monster was R.E.M’s heaviest album to date, coming right after the relatively mellow discs Out of Time and Automatic for the People. Those were the two biggest albums of their career, but the band didn’t tour behind either of them. And so when they went out to tour behind Monster, they’d been off the road for six years and the demand to see them was extraordinary. It led to them booking 137 dates all over the globe.
Less than two months into the tour, drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm during a show in Lausanne, Switzerland. He could have easily died, but Switzerland has excellent hospitals and Berry was released in under two weeks and back on the road with the band in two and a half months. But that July, bassist Mike Mills had surgery to remove an intestinal tumor that wound up being benign. And before the tour wrapped up, Michael Stipe had surgery to deal with a hernia that he blamed on pushing himself too hard onstage every night while he sang. (Somehow, guitarist Peter Buck escaped the curse of the Monster tour without undergoing any sort of surgery.)
The tour wrapped up with a three-night stand at Atlanta’s the Omni in November 1995. Cameras were presented to capture the performances for the film Road Show. Here’s video of “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and “Crush With Eyeliner” from those gigs. What nobody realized at the time was that these were the last complete shows that R.E.M. would ever play with Bill Berry. When the tour wrapped, the drummer realized he wanted to live a quiet life and left the band to become a farmer. After the nightmare of the Monster tour, it’s hard to blame him.