R.E.M.'s New Adventures In Hi-Fi Rocks Long & Hard

Raging guitar from Peter Buck on new album.

As usual,

there won't be a photo of R.E.M. on the cover of the group's upcoming

album, which is titled New Adventures In Hi-Fi. What you will

find are some long songs, and plenty of them; the album clocks in at

65 minutes, 25 seconds. Six of the album's 14 songs are over five

minutes long, including "Leave," which is a substantial seven minutes,

seventeen seconds. The album, out September 10, was produced by Scott

Litt. Four songs--"Departure," "Undertow," "Binky the Doormat" and

"The Wake-up Bomb" were written and recorded backstage and at sound

checks during the group's 1995 "Monster" world tour (those tracks were

then worked on in the studio). The other ten-- "E-bow The Letter,"

"How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us," "Bittersweet Me," "New

Test Leper," "Be Mine," "Zither," "So Fast, So Numb," "Low Desert,"

"Electrolite" and "Leave"--were recorded at studios in Los Angeles,

Seattle, and Athens, Georgia, although most of the work took place in

Seattle according

to a source close to the band. Patti Smith, who has become friends

with Michael Stipe, makes a high-profile appearance on "E-bow The

Letter." "For those who have heard it [the album], the common

comparison is that it falls between Automatic For The People

and Monster," says our source. "It has the depth and range of

Automatic. It's a deeper, richer album like Automatic,

but like Monster it's a guitar raging kind of album. At least

some of the songs hark back to 'What's the Frequency, Kenneth?' and

'Star 69.' It has better rock stuff than Automatic. The softer

stuff is very strong too. It hits a lot of places across the spectrum:

acoustic guitar moments, drumless moments. But then there are things

as raging as they've ever done." A second source who has heard the

album says "there's some techno-reverb stuff happening on one track

which would lend itself to a dance remix. Over all, it's mellower than

Monster but cooler than Automatic For the People. " The group

plan to make a video for the first single, but they haven't settled

on a director yet. They will not tour, and in fact are planning to

take a year off. "They're gonna scatter," says our first source.