New R.E.M. Album Coming (Sort Of)

Compilation includes alternative takes, live versions and one short song not available elsewhere.

A new R.E.M. album is on its way.

But it's not the new one you've been hearing about, and the band doesn't necessarily even want it to be released.

A 15-track compilation entitled In the Attic, comprised of b-sides, alternate takes, live tracks and one previously unreleased track, will be released by Capitol/EMI on Oct. 7. The album is comprised of material acquired by EMI following their purchase of the now-defunct IRS Records.

The collection covers the band's career from 1985-1989, and is one of several limited-edition retrospectives (Beach Boys, Blondie, David Bowie) being released by Capitol/EMI on the same day in celebration of EMI's 100th anniversary.

But the album only boasts one song which has not appeared elsewhere during the Athens band's career.

Included in the collection is the minute-long, previously unreleased "Tired of Singing Trouble," (from the Life's Rich Pageant sessions), live B-side versions of "Driver 8," "Disturbance at the Heron House," "Maps and Legends," "The One I Love," all previously released, and the eight-minute "Time After Time Etc. (Medley)," which features the song "Time After Time," a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain" and the band's early hit "So. Central Rain," recorded at a Sept. 1987 show in Utrecht, Holland.

Additionally, the album, which will only be available for six months, will feature alternate mixes and edits of "Finest Worksong," "Gardening at Night," "Just a Touch," Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic," "Crazy," "Can't Get There From Here" and "Last Date," as well as two songs on the soundtrack to the 1987 indie film Athens Inside/Out, "Swan Swan H" and a re-titled cover of the Everly Brothers' "(All I've Got To Do Is) Dream."

R.E.M. manager Bertis Downs would not comment on the album, which he said the band did not have a hand in compiling.

Downs did, however, confirm reports that the band plans to re-convene this fall in Georgia to begin pre-production on their 11th album. Scheduled for inclusion in those sessions are two musicians who've spent the past year collaborating with guitarist Peter Buck, Young Fresh Fellows/Minus 5 leader Scott MacCaughey and Screaming Trees/Tuatara drummer Barrett Martin. Following a holiday break, R.E.M. will enter a Northern California studio in early '98 for two months to record the album, although Downs said it was unclear if MacCaughey and Martin would participate in those sessions. No release date has been set yet for the untitled album.

Tuatara, whose line-up includes Buck, Martin, Skerik of Critters Buggin and Justin Harwood of Luna have already begun work on their second album. They will be joined in the studio this time around by MacCaughey. Tuatara have been in and out of a northwest studio recording the still-untitled follow-up to their world-music-sampling debut, Breaking the Ethers, which they are producing themselves, with Ed Brooks engineering.

The band has already recorded several songs and will re-enter the studio in October to finish. Melissa Dragich of the group's label, Epic Records, said the group is eyeing a mid-1998 release and that no additional musicians have been brought in to guest on the effort so far, but added, "I'm sure there will be some surprises."

As for R.E.M.'s contribution to the soundtrack of the film A Cool, Dry Place, for which bassist Mike Mills is overseeing the soundtrack, Downs said the spangled-suit lovin' bassist has been to the set twice already, but that the band hasn't yet recorded their contribution.

When the song is completed, it will mark the first time R.E.M. have produced a song specifically for a movie soundtrack. [Thurs., Sept. 18, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]