We Review The New R.E.M. DVD Set "REMTV"!

With the just-released REMTV 6-DVD set having just hit the market, folks are suddenly talking about R.E.M. again, which is never a bad thing, but, like the set itself,  most seem to focus on the band's commercial peak that followed their defection to Warner Brothers - you know, the one that led the once unintelligible Stipe to sing "Shiny Happy People" in day-glo Cosby kid attire.

What gets lost in the static of the band's near-world domination in the early '90s is the fact that that version of the band was a far cry from the idiosyncratic and vaguely folk-inspired one that lurched out of the gothic swamplands of Georgia in 1981 armed with only a Hibtone single and a dream.

Considering the fact that there is over 14 hours of footage spread across six DVD's, it's puzzling to see so little attention paid to the band's IRS Records era, which saw the band popping up on MTV in all sorts of settings.

The most glaring omission would have to be the band's 1984 performance in Passaic, NJ, during their Reckoning tour, which was broadcast on MTV.

Additionally, early appearances on shows LiveWire (on the Viacom-owned Nickelodeon) and The Cutting Edge are presented here in edited versions when it would have been entirely possible to include the unedited live performances and interview footage.

While what we get here is a treasure trove of great footage, for die-hard fans, it feels as if either R.E.M. or Viacom (owners of the MTV footage) are stringing us along for yet another cash-grab next holiday season instead of making this collection as good as it could have been.

The one truly essential aspect of this collection is the documentary "R.E.M. by MTV", which tells the entire R.E.M. story through interviews with the band and key players (IRS Records' Jay Boberg, early producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, etc.).  Of course, MTV and VH1 have been airing the documentary and are expected to continue doing so through December.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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