R.E.M.'s Reckoning resurfaces 

The Athens band's second studio album stands up (with cool extras)

For those younger R.E.M. fans who came aboard in the 1990s and consider Green and Out of Time to be the veteran Georgia band's "cool early stuff," it's imperative that they take note of this upcoming re-release: the two-disc "deluxe edition" of R.E.M.'s 1984 album Reckoning, their second full-length after 1983's Murmur.

Jointly released by I.R.S./A&M/UMe, Reckoning's relaunch is set for June 23. The package features the original 10-song album — from "Harborcoat" to "Little America" — plus a bonus disc of a previously unreleased concert recorded during the band's "Little America Tour" at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom, and broadcast on WXRT. In addition, Reckoning and Murmur will be simultaneously reissued on audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl in their complete original packaging.

The first generation of R.E.M. fans and wannabes still celebrate the collection for such faves as "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville," "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)," "Letter Never Sent," and "Pretty Persuasion" (click on the audio sample at the right) — all of which featured some mighty fine mumblin' and croonin' from the lead singer … and sweet harmonies from the bespectacled bassist as well.

According to the Deluxe Edition liner notes by author Tony Fletcher, producers Mitch Easter (of Let's Active) and Don Dixon and bandmembers Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe saw the Reckoning sessions as a "chance to turn up the volume, tear up the rule book, and capture instead R.E.M.'s on-stage mojo," as opposed to the careful and painstaking process involved in the making of Murmur.

British trade mag New Music Express wrote in 1984 that "Reckoning confirms R.E.M. as one of the most beautifully exciting groups on the planet." Beautifully exciting? Sure, and mysteriously bohemian, melodically weird, and vaguely Byrdsian, too. Great and essential early stuff, for sure.


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