When Monster was released in September 1994, the members of R.E.M. were at a crossroads in their career. Singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry were decompressing from the massive commercial and critical success of 1991’s Out of Time and 1992’s Automatic for the People. In just a few years, the Athens, GA, four-piece had become one of the biggest, most recognizable bands in the world, thanks to hits like “Losing My Religion,” “Man on the Moon” and “Everybody Hurts.” It had also been six years since the group had toured. By the time the work began on Monster, they were itching to end their self-imposed hiatus and get back on the road. The band was also looking for a sonic shake-up. While R.E.M.’s last two albums were full of ballads, acoustic rock songs and intricate arrangements, the group was ready to record something grittier, brasher and highly playable on stage. In his liner notes, journalist Matthew Perpetua writes that Monster “had no precedent in the band’s catalog,” adding that R.E.M. had “never been this distorted and dirty, or this glam or this flirty.” Buck recalls, “We were trying to feel like a different band … We wanted to get away from who we were.”
In addition to having the chance to reflect on Monster, R.E.M. also had the opportunity to revisit the album creatively with their long-time producer, Scott Litt. Litt, who struggled with the original mix, recalls, “I had told the band through the years that if there was ever a chance to take another shot at mixing the album, I wanted to do it.” Now, 25 years later, he’s had the chance, and the results are striking. On some songs, according to Perpetua, Litt’s work features “Entirely different vocal takes and instrumental parts that were either buried or excised from the original album mix.” Mills adds, “I think as he listened to it over the years, he began to hear a different way to realize those songs.” Ultimately, with this reissue, fans will not only have the opportunity to re-discover Monster but also, perhaps, see the album in a completely new light.
Having established a powerful legacy as one of the most enduring and essential rock bands in popular music history, R.E.M. pioneered the alt-rock movement of the ’90s, influencing the likes of Radiohead, Nirvana, Pavement and Pearl Jam. Formed in 1980, the group enjoyed an extraordinary three-decade-long run of creative vitality and multi-platinum sales before amicably disbanding in 2011. Despite great success, the band members never lost track of their core values-remaining outspoken in their views about political, social and environmental issues, and never wavering when it came to artistic integrity. Throughout the course of their career together-an immense legacy which approaches a 40-year tenure in 2020-R.E.M. released a total of 15 studio albums, won three GRAMMY® Awards and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
#Monster25 is out now as a Deluxe Box Set, on 2-CD, 2-LP, 1-LP and digital.
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