If there is any good reason to give money to a legitimate media source, NPR should be your choice. On top of being impressive on the news circuit, currently they are also streaming, R.E.M. Live At The Olympia.
For the past 15 years or so, R.E.M.'s willingness to dig deep in their catalog could be aptly compared to being shackled to your bed while your partner tortures you...sexually of course. Their live setlists often feature the songs at the shows you don't attend and jealousy persists when they talk about their former lovers (setlists of prior years). Of course, if the band chose to perform such an act it would result in premature ejaculation on your part which would offer no satisfaction to the band. In this release, the shackles are removed and we are graced with an amazing release.
As I have been listening to this album, I am finding very little wrong with it so far. The small errors in the performances give the album some heart, reminding listeners that in the early days, R.E.M. was not about precision but reckless abandon, while the "Whirling Dervish" Michael Stipe would parade onstage. While Stipe is not the W. Dervish that he once was, the band does give listeners a glimpse into soundtracks of the misfits of Generation X. Sure, they are not the band from 1983, but the songs are not treated as some prepackaged tchotchke from China. They do not sound overly rehearsed but very fresh and unique.
Several weeks ago, R.E.M. released a teaser EP of four songs the band played during their time in Dublin, Ireland in 2007. I have been listening to this performance in relation to ‘LIVE’, R.E.M.’s rookie entry into the concert album foray. The first thing that I have noticed about the songs that were played, are their intimacy. We do not hear the emptiness of the concert venue but the thick nasaly voice of Michael Stipe as he serenades the paying audience with Mike Mills playing a mean bass and adding the essential backup vocals and Peter Buck, janglying his way to heaven.