R.E.M.’s New Hits Collection Excludes Numerous Singles

Four days ago in this space, I wrote about R.E.M.’s upcoming greatest hits package and openly questioned the necessity of it.  At the time, it wasn’t clear what was going to make the cut but regardless, I expected to be disappointed.

Now we know and I am.  Yes, before even hearing a single note, I already have complaints.  The band announced that Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011 will feature 40 tracks spread out over two discs.  As noted previously, there will be new material. 

We All Go Back To Where We Belong, a fitting title for a farewell release, will be the first single.  (It will drop October 18.)  A Month Of Saturdays and Hallelujah (presumably not the Leonard Cohen version) are the other new songs.  All three were recorded over the summer.

The rest of the collection is a mix of singles (both hits and flops) and album cuts.  (To view the entire track list, click here.)  When you look at what’s in, you can’t help but be discouraged by what was excluded.

Let’s start with Monster, the 1994 album that marked the band’s return to hard, noisy rock and roll and their last multi-platinum success (not counting In Time).  The CD spawned brilliant radio hits like Bang And Blame, Crush With Eyeliner, the controversial Strange Currencies (which detractors felt sounded too much like Everybody Hurts) and Star 69.  How many songs from this record are represented on the new hits package?  One.  What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? is the only one that made it.  Ridiculous.

Also missing in action are Drive, Ignoreland and Find The River (from Automatic For The People), Can’t Get There From Here (from Fables From The Reconstruction), Superman (from Lifes Rich Pagent), E-Bow The Letter, The Wake-Up Bomb and Bittersweet Me (from New Adventures In Hi-Fi), Daysleeper and Lotus (from Up), and Radio Song (from Out Of Time).  There are a few others but you get the general idea.

Wouldn’t it have been a much better plan to offer a triple CD so almost nothing would’ve been excluded?  God knows there’s an audience for it.  I mean if Sting can offer a triple-disc sampling of his solo work (while not perfect, it has its own share of exclusions (albeit far fewer than Part Truth), it features almost all of his biggest hits in their most familiar forms), why can’t R.E.M. follow his lead?

At any event, I still want to hear the record, particularly the new songs.  Those hoping this would be the best of all their hits packages will, like myself, not be terribly pleased by its utter lack of comprehensiveness.  A three-disc set of singles, featuring both hits and misses, would’ve been the best move. 

Let the grumbling from fans begin.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
3:15 a.m.

Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 3:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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