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Side Effects

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R.E.M.'s 30th Anniversary Continued

On this very special day of days I do have some unfinished business before it strikes 12 o’clock.


First off, a very happy 50th to Kathleen O’Brien (KO).  Her role in the “R.E.M. Saga” is well documented and continued happiness, health and prosperity to her and her family.


There is another band that made it’s debut on April 5th as well and were there that fateful day playing before R.E.M. Their name is the The Side Effects. The Side Effects, included Paul Butchart on Drums, Kit Swartz on guitar and Jimmy Ellison on Bass. Their role in the R.E.M. story is equally as intriguing as Paul and Jimmy Ellison were originally going to play with Peter Buck and Michael Stipe before the formation of R.E.M. but never showed up to practice, according to Peter Buck.


Paul Butchart has become a bit of an Athens Music Historian himself, giving tours, and providing in-depth insight into the time and period of this explosion of the Athens sound. I would unequivocally say that Paul should write his own memoirs of this period as it would be an instant buy not just for R.E.M. fans but for music fans in general wanting a more complete understanding of this period of music.


With this birthday celebration there was a posting of a show that the Side Effects had taped thanks to Chris Rasmussen who made a copy and the late Randy Bewley of Pylon who gave a copy of this to Paul. The show was from May 16, 1980 at the 40 Watt Club, and according to Paul, is “most likely is the same set played at the Church on April 5, 1980.”  To listen click here


Fellow REMringer Martine Hollander has also posted some videos from the REM 30 event at the Melting Pot in Athens, Georgia. The video below is Mitch Easter performing ‘Stumble’, however, I would suggest you try stumbling through all of Martine’s videos from this event. I guess I had to feature this song as it happens to be one of my favorites, plus I was listening to an amazing boot version of this song today that R.E.M. played at Merlin's in Madison in 1982. 






Finally, I would like to conclude with a very special nugget that I found on the REMring Facebook page thanks to David Ersmarker. WOUG was hosting a 30th anniversary special of R.E.M. songs and they provided the world premiere of ‘Throw Those Trolls Away’ or more commonly known as “When I Was Young”.


For those that have heard of neither of those songs, “When I Was Young” was a very early rendition of what would later become ‘I Believe’ which was featured on ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’. This would appear to be a very early demo during the Fables sessions and my understanding is that it will be released on the upcoming 25th Anniversary issue of ‘Fables of the Reconstruction’. This should pique the interests of some fans as to the content of this package considering that this is not a live track but a demo and so we will have to wait and see what the rest of the package will look like.


I guess now that the official title is ‘Throw Those Trolls Away’ it would be best to start referring to that as the title from now on. The song was performed very early in the Fables tour performed and quickly abandoned. In fact, I think it was only known to have been played a total of 3 times.


While this demo is somewhat difficult to make out what Michael Stipe is singing, if you compare this songs lyrics to ‘I Believe’ you will notice some very familiar phrases being uttered.


In terms of the decision to scrap this song and rewrite much of it for ‘I Believe’, in my opinion it was the right decision. ‘I Believe’ is an instant classic in my eyes and this is for better or worse, just an early working of a song that just didn’t pass off as something special. At the same time, the very fact that it is being released should be something to look forward in the coming months with the Fables rerelease. You can enjoy the song here. (Note: That there is no guarantee this link will remain active).


Thanks to everyone above and so many more for making R.E.M.'s 30th a very special occasion. Even if you chose to put on some tunes and reflected on this moment, part of the fun is not just dissected the band, in many cases we begin to dissect our own lives and the amount of fulfillment they have provided to us via their music.  



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