Originally issued in May of 2014 as half of Unplugged 1991 & 2001: The Complete Sessions, this live recording is of R.E.M.'s 1991 show only. Following their exhaustive touring schedule for 1988's Green, the band decided they wouldn't tour for 1991's Out of Time, which proved to be the commercial breakout album they'd long been leading up to. As "Losing My Religion" slowly rose to number one, the band only turned in a handful of shows, the most visible of which was their debut set of MTV Unplugged; the show was also at the height of its power and influence. The material from Out of Time was well-suited to the show's acoustic format and their versions of tracks like "Half a World Away," "Radio Song," and of course, "Losing My Religion" sound strong and relevant. There are a handful of tunes from Life's Rich Pageant ("Fall on Me" and the already acoustic "Swan Swan Hummingbird") and Document ("Disturbance at the Heron House" and the immortal "It's the End of the World as We Know It [And I Feel Fine]") alongside the more recent material from Green as well as one early chestnut ("A Perfect Circle") from their 1983 debut Murmur. This earthy, Baroque folk sound came to define the R.E.M. of this era with 1992's Automatic for the People following a similar bent. Unlike their second Unplugged appearance in 2001, the 1991 show features the original lineup with Bill Berry on congas along with Peter Buck's guitar and mandolin playing, Mike Mills' acoustic bass and tenor vocals, and Michael Stipe's rich, thoughtful drawl. Auxiliary cohort Peter Holsapple further colors the set on additional guitar and organ. When the band eventually returned to touring several years later, they had essentially gone electric again making this show a unique snapshot of a very specific time in R.E.M.'s career when they finally came into the world's greater consciousness in a surprisingly organic way. ~ Timothy Monger
- Format: Vinyl
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Meta Artist: R.E.M.