R.E.M. reissues 'Fables of the Reconstruction': Stream an exclusive preview track here!

REM-1985Image Credit: Bob Leafe/Retna Ltd.Having already reissued Murmur and Reckoning, R.E.M. is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Fables of the Reconstruction by releasing a fancy new remastered and expanded edition of the album that brought “Driver 8,” “Life and How to Live It,” and “Can’t Get There From Here” into our lives.

The reissue (due July 13) comes with a bonus disc of demos including Lifes Rich Pageant‘s “Hyena” and the previously-unreleased “Throw Those Trolls Away” (known as “When I Was Young” to the R.E.M. obsessives out there). And right here, right now, you can stream the demo version of “Can’t Get There From Here,” which is the closest any of us are gonna get to being in that Athens rehearsal studio in 1985. When you’re done geeking out, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Psyched for this reissue? Hoping they unearth any other unreleased gems during these anniversary digs? As we progress through the R.E.M. catalog, which album re-release are you gonna be first in line for? (Monster: coming fall 2019!)

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Comments (21 total) Add your comment
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  • nodnarb

    I used to get psyched about reissues, but now that they’ve reached a point where I actually purchased the original when it was released, they just make me feel old. See also: The Cure’s Disintegration, which I played until the tape fell out when I was 17.

    • darclyte

      Yeah, they do make one feel old, but it’s great to hear some of these remastered with improved sound, as well as unreleased songs from the same sessions. I’m not a big fan of demos of previously released songs though.

  • couchgrouch

    I like REM…to a point. but re-releasing these albums isn’t on the same level as a new edition of Exile on Main Street. Driver 8 has a weak melody and a lyric that’s not much better. compared to Tumbling Dice, it’s not much. I’ll stick with my original editions which I still like and listen to. it’s just that REM(and U2 for that matter) aren’t in the musical realm of bands from the 60s or 70s.

    • Rob

      @couchgrouch. Totally disagree, but I guess it’s a question of taste. First of all, I’ll take REM over the Stones anyday of the week. Stipe can outsing Jagger without even trying. Second, I prefer the “laid-back” melodies of REM over the Stones. Third, I would say “Fables of the Reconstruction” is one of my favorite REM albums of all time–along with “Life’s Rich Pageant” and “Automatic for the People.” I grew up with REM, saw them in concert (saw the Stones in concert too), and never got tired of them. I’m glad they’e remastering “Fables.” Now I wish they’d remaster “Life’s Rich Pageant.”

      • couchgrouch

        as the lead singer of a rock n roll band, Stipe isn’t in Jagger’s league. while Mick lacks the power of say Muddy Waters, he can phrase and sing very soulfully such s on Let It Loose, Moonlight Mile and dozens of others. REM’s melodies aren’t laid back, they’re weak. I like Automatic..it’s my favorite REM record. but as a band REM’s no match for bands that emerged in the 60s and 70s…the musicianship and songwriting just isn’t there. hell, as a band Los Lobos is better than REM.

      • Rob

        Comparing REM to the Stones is like comparing apples to oranges. REM is an American rock band whereas the Stones are a British rock band. Dating back to the 60s and 70s, American rock bands were mostly into folk rock, such as Dylan, Baez, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Janis Joplin, Mamas & Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Eagles, etc. British rock was mostly into psychedilic rock, such as the Beatles (Sgt. Pepper on), Stones, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, Who, etc. Personally, I prefer folk rock. REM has been compared to The Byrds. That’s why I like REM more than the Stones.

      • Scott

        Couchgrouch seems confused about things. The Stones are great (or used to be). REM are great, too (or used to be!). But why do we have to say one’s good but the other’s weak and can’t compare? I’m pretty sure no one in REM is sitting around thinking, “Why aren’t we more like the Stones?” There’s no comparision to be made and there’s no reason to try to make it, either. Isn’t is possible to like both bands. Maybe it’s just that couchgrouch is one of these confused people that feels the need to put down things, to berate things….just to do it, just to be negative, just to have something bad (however slightly) to say.

        REM’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They didn’t get there because they were viewed as being a weak band.

    • Rob

      Another thing–”Driver 8″ isn’t the only GREAT song on “Fables of the Reconstruction.” The other standouts are: “Green Grow The Rushes,” “Maps and Legends,” and “Life And How To Live It.”

  • LOL

    Nice to see a real band featured here.

  • Boof

    I guess if you can’t come up with anything new, you reissue the old. Hell, they do it on TV and in the movies all the time. Why not music?

  • Stan

    Driver 8 – most awesome intro in rock, ’cause I can actually PLAY it!

  • Blake

    Driver 8 has a fantastic melody and REM is an extremely important band particuraly their 80s material. Get over it.

  • S.O.

    I like when classic albums get re-issued/re-released when they are digitally remastered & contain bonus material (DVD, b-sides, etc…). As a huge Depeche Mode fan, their re-release/remastered of every one of their 1st 10 albums w/ bonus features was such a treat.

  • Frank from MusicNerdClub.com

    I would like to see R.E.M. re-release expanded versions of “Out Of Time” and “Automatic For The People”. Those albums really captured R.E.M. at their creative and commercial peak. Both still sound exploratory and relevant today.

    • Matthew Jonathan

      “Out of Time” and “Automatic for the People” were already re-released a few years ago on the high fidelity DVD-Audio format. Doesn’t make sense re-issuing them again since the DVD-A version trounces the CD.

  • Scoot

    I’m gonna root around and find my oft listened to old cassette version of “Fables…” and play it head to head against my soon to be purchased digital remaster. I think its an excellant benchmark to gauge the quality of analog vs. digital. “Fables …” is still my favorite of REMs albums, yet I do beleive it was their least liked. No accounting for taste is there.

  • Train Conductor

    Played this tape till it gave out. Bought it again, and still have the 2nd copy. Was a REM fanatic in college. Lost a little luster with me with their politcal views, but Life’s Rich Paegant remains on my desert island list.

  • Rob W

    I was disappointed from original release day with the muddy production on “Fables of the Reconstruction”, so I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. In concert, these songs had a lot more power and energy; even this demo sounds way more lively and crisp than the original LP or (horrors!) cassette.

  • Cheryl N

    Thanks for putting this up for us! Unusual backing vocals on Can’t Get There… I’ve got to admit I prefer the video version, because the video is just so darned entertaining!

  • Cheryl N

    Oh, forgot to add–love the group photo you selected!

  • RandBall’s Stu

    This is probably the weakest of their IRS records (I think the band agrees on that). Of course, I’ll still buy it anyway, because they’re REM.

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