R.E.M.- Murmur/Reckoning- Michael Stipe, Peter Buck

My conversations with R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe and lead guitarist Peter Buck about their first two full length albums, Murmur  and Reckoning, reveal a band remarkably cohesive and certain about its vision. This interview includes the earliest days of the Athens, GA R.E.M. with songs from their first three full albums, Murmur (a perennial “desert island disc” for me, released April 1983); Reckoning a year later and peaking at #27 on Billboard; and then Fables of the Reconstruction.

“We played for $40 a night for years,” R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck says matter-of-factly. “There were many $8 nights. Yet we never lost money on a tour. We’d always start in Athens GA, and make $800. And then we’d go to North Carolina and make $300. Then when we got out of that area we’d open for somebody, and they’d give us $50 or $100 to open for Bow Wow Wow in Detroit.” R.E.M. Murmur quietly emerged April 12, 1983 and has never left my essential music list, along with its follow-up Reckoning forty years ago. Songs here include “Radio Free Europe”,”Pilgrimmage”, “Talk About the Passion”, “South Central Rain”, “Pretty Persuasion”, “Can’t Get There from Here”,”Driver 8″, and an ultra-rare live acoustic performance of “Maps and Legends” from McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Murmur peaked on Billboard sales chart at #36 initially, but has only grown in esteem ever since. Rolling Stone magazine declared it their pick for Best Album in 1983; then #8 on their 100 Greatest Albums of the Eighties; #18 on the 100 Best Debut Albums; and on Rolling Stone‘s most recent 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Murmur by R.E.M. sits at an impressive #165. This edition of In the Studio lovingly dedicated to the memory of Barney Kilpatrick, who tirelessly promoted all of these early albums for R.E.M.- Redbeard