Title: “Live at The Olympia”
Format: Compact disc (Spotify)
Recorded during a five-night “live rehearsal” at a Dublin, Ireland, venue in 2007, R.E.M. revisits its early years.
“This is not a show,” Michael Stipe tells the crowd. “This is what we do when you’re not looking.”
Across 39 songs, most of “Live at The Olympia” is a combination of the band’s jangle pop ’80s material as well as test runs for songs from 2008′s “Accelerate,” many of which are fully fleshed out.
The selections include 80 percent of the band’s debut EP, “Chronic Town,” which, given the break up in September 2011, feels like they were cycling back to where they started.
Melding the two eras together is a purposeful effort to synthesize the two periods, the same way Metallica’s “Death Magnetic” booted most studio material between its release and “the black album” from set lists.
In R.E.M.’s case, the effort works better here than it did on the finished product, where “Accelerate” sounded more like a natural, decade-late follow-up to “New Adventures in Hi-Fi.”
Fans of the band’s jangle pop ’80s will be thoroughly satisfied with “Live at The Olympia.” Fans of the band’s big hits should try 2007′s “R.E.M. Live” first.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.