News

R.E.M. seal deal with Concord to reissue Warner-era albums

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Bad news and really bad timing for Warner Bros., because as we approach the 25th anniversaries of R.E.M.‘s landmark Out of Time and Automatic For The People albums, the band (who split in 2011) have entered into a multi-year, worldwide licensing agreement with “leading independent music company” Concord Bicycle Music Company for those albums and in fact all their recording output spanning the years 1988 through 2011 (the Warner years).

This era resulted in album sales which are said to have reached 85 million across the globe and longtime R.E.M. manager, Bertis Downs said “The band and all at REMHQ are very happy to be joining with Concord Bicycle Music for this next phase of curating and extending R.E.M.’s recorded legacy,” adding,  “The albums covered by this agreement are some of the band’s most successful, both artistically and commercially, and we know the people at Concord share our enthusiasm about this partnership.  We leave the Warner Bros. family, a great label where we are certainly grateful for some of our career highlights. But moving forward, we knew this was the right time to change it up, and Concord is the right home for this key part of R.E.M.’s catalog.”

This deal sees R.E.M. working once more with Sig Sigworth (SVP Catalog Management & Development, Concord Bicycle Music) who worked with the group in the I.R.S. Records years. He commented: “I’ve had the good fortune to consult with the band on their catalog for the past several years, but to now, all these years later, be able to bring the band and their incredible post-I.R.S. legacy to the Concord Bicycle Music family is very rewarding.”. The irony won’t be lost on fans because the band left the ‘indie’ IRS but have now been snatched back from Warners by another ‘indie’ in Concord Bicycle Music.

“It was disappointing when the band left to go to Warner Bros.” was Sigworth’s understated comment in yesterday’s announcement which also confirmed that fans can expect “deluxe reissues with special bonus material, exclusive packaging and much more”.

Warners did reissue their R.E.M. catalogue back in 2005 with CD+DVD-A combo-packs which boasted some excellent 5.1 surround sound remixes along with some small elements of video footage, but the label arguably underplayed their hand and could have created more extensive sets at that time. To be fair, we were a quite a few years from a mature market for super deluxe edition box sets at that point in time. Green was reissued again in 2013 (for the 25th anniversary) but perhaps the writing was on the wall at that point, because that 2CD set was far from a serious archival exploration of the 1988 album.

Concord have worked successfully with Paul McCartney on some very well-presented archive reissues, so we will wait in anticipation to see what they come up with for the R.E.M. back catalogue.

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40 responses to R.E.M. seal deal with Concord to reissue Warner-era albums

  1. Charles K. says:

    This is good news but I really hope they don’t go the same route that the IRS albums went when remastered. The packaging inexplicably changed after the first two and the boxes the later ones came in were unnecessary considering the fluff contained within. I would hope they go the Edsel route and use a book format. Either way, it will be nice to see these releases revitalized.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I get the feeling this is very much a fresh start and hopefully the reissues will be elevated to a whole new level (but no marbles, thanks).

      • Tom of FIN says:

        Hopefully there will be real unreleased bonus tracks worth repeated listening.

        Everybody knows most alternative or live takes, demos etc. are only for the most die hard freaks. At least I do not purchase any deluxe boxes by anyone without proper studio songs.

      • Tom of FIN says:

        Hopefully there will be real unreleased bonus tracks worth repeated listening.

        Everybody knows most alternative or live takes, demos etc. are only for the most die hard freaks. At least I do not purchase any deluxe boxes by anyone without proper extra studio songs.

    • Andrea says:

      I really hope they DON’T go the Edsel route in terms of sound quality, which is appalling. By the way, that’s what really matters; not the package, not the book(let), not the format.

    • noyoucmon says:

      The packaging changed because Murmur & Reckoning were owned by a different company than owned Fables and thereafter. If you recall, even during the IRS era, distribution switched to (or from, I can’t remember) MCA from another company–I want to say A&M. Anyway, that’s why the packaging is different. And now that Concord Bicycle owns it we can be sure to get yet a third type of packaging.

  2. patjoller says:

    This is incredible. Of course I became a fan of the band with Out of time, and automatic is for me one of the greatest record ever. So hearing this raise my expectations for the future releases, now I want the bingo hand job concert, lots of demos and I really wish the automatic cd will be massive. Awesome news….

    • Michael says:

      Is Bingo Hand Job a part of this,,As I was there for the 2nd night and of course it would be a treasure to have or hear as a proper release

  3. Graham Ricket says:

    Need all the b-sides included rather than just live albums as they did with previous reissues. Happy to have the latter as well! Really want a four or five disc boxset with all of this and a 5.1 mix.

  4. Craig Holmes says:

    A shame there was no consistant format across the albums, with Murmur / Reckoning in the thick digi style things followed by a succession of lift off lids boxes – I must admit I enjoyed the box presentations and was hoping for a full set of those at some point.
    Anyway as Paul says above it’s clearly a fresh start and back to the drawing board in terms of packaging/formats.

    Anyway as they’re one of my very favourite bands I’ll buy whatever is released – just hoping any vinyl aspect is kept seperate to avoid being forced down the route of superdeluxe box = you must buy vinyl.

  5. Glenn says:

    Hoping for complete B-sides etc. before anything unreleased appears.

    Have bought Green on cassette, CD, CD+DVDA and then 2xCD already so looking forward to buying it again. ;)

  6. kauwgompie says:

    Yes, good news but pls no live album as a bonus. Any artist who has ever played live can do a deluxe version by remastering the original album and throw in a live album as a bonus and be done with it. Pls give us alternative versions, b-sides and remixes.

  7. wardo says:

    B-sides would be a big help. Though I really don’t want to buy Green again.

  8. Simon says:

    Not interested in 5.1 mixes (just don’t listen to them often enough to merit my buying them) but I would be interested if they follow the same approach as the IRS ones. I play those sets a lot (although, like Charles K. I don’t look at the, frankly ludicrous posters and postcards!)

    Some well-curated multi-disc box sets (priced below £50 hopefully) would draw me in. Come on Warner, make me happy!

  9. Robert says:

    Excellent. I like the box sets they released so far but they’ve been inconsistent. REM will always be one of my favorite bands- I saw them at the Bayfront Center in St Pete with the Minutemen opening back in ’85 or so and last saw them on the Green tour at the USF Sundome with Drivin’ N Cryin’ opening. I recall they went a few years without touring at all. Im looking forward to anything from them.

  10. Andrew says:

    Well, this is excellent news.

    All the B sides and alternative versions are available on the digital only bundles released last year. I thought I had everything and there was stuff on there even I had never heard of.

    As others have said, this is the chance to do things properly. Original album remastered (properly, not just made louder), B sides and rarities, the 5.1 mixes on Blu ray audio (they were stunning) and any live tracks available. Plus a book. And PLEASE don’t make them limited. I have a baby on the way and am likely to be made redundant in the new year, so I need time to buy these. Oh – need vinyl versions too!

  11. Paul Nolan says:

    They will Probably go The Led Zeppelin Reissue route, releasing a couple of Albums at a time. March 2016 is the Out of Time 25th Anniversary… Double/Triple vinyl and Cds and the Super deluxe with everything.

    I personally would love A 12″ Vinyl Singles Box set with all the b-sides and an alternate version of Albums in any release they do

    • Nathan says:

      That is a great comment, Paul.

      What we haven’t seen is a vinyl super deluxe box with the album and its associated 12’s. I suspect the market for that is as big if not bigger than the market for a CD SDE.

      It would be best if each of the 12’s gathered all the b-sides for that single across the many formats. For example, for Out Of Time, the “Losing My Religion” 12″ had 2 b-sides, but there were an additional 5 CD singles, so the 12″ could conceivably have the single, plus the 7 b-sides.

  12. JuzzyB says:

    I love R.E.M. but having bought some of these albums more than once already I find myself replete. Even if they do find some rare stuff in the cupboard.

  13. richie says:

    I remember seeing REM for the first time at the Royal Court in Liverpool in November 1984. The place was about a third full and it was bloody freezing. I seem to remember they played well over 20 songs, Michael Stipe coming out to `Moon River` appacella in a huge greatcoat. Great show. We drank loads of draft Guinness.

  14. richie says:

    I`m going to have to dig out the CD singles I have, this has made me want to here the `b` sides.

  15. Woody says:

    I too was disappointed by the 25th anniversary releases. Postcards with the faces of band members? A fold-out poster? It’s like they thought their target market was 16 year olds. It would be great to get comprehensive packages that pair the remastered album with all the relevant B-sides, singles, non-album tracks, demos, alternate takes and unreleased songs of the period, but I’m not sure that’s likely at this point. The band presumably made the decision, in consultation with Universal and Warner, to limit their anniversary releases to remastered album plus live disc (or demos) (but not both). Why would they change that approach now? Do they stand to make more money releasing their vault material through Concord Bicycle than Warner? Do they have greater control than they had with Warner? I’d be curious to learn how decisions on how to “curate and extend” the band’s recording legacy get made.

    • Michael L says:

      I expect the band had a lot of control under the Warners deal – wasn’t their 1995 deal the largest advance that had been paid at the time? $85m?

      This new deal more than likely involves a payday that wasn’t going to be forthcoming for re-issues at Warners, particularly if they were covered by an existing deal.

      I have all the Warners albums, will wait and see what’s on the re-issues. If it’s album + live set and nothing else then I’m out.

  16. Joe says:

    Hopefully the format will be similar to the recent tears for fears and simple minds box sets. Would like to see the unplugged sessions on dvd included with out takes etc. Big hopes for these releases.

  17. Charles Hodgson says:

    Used to be a big fan – from “Reckoning” up to “New Adventures In Hi-Fi” anyway – and was lucky enough to see them live several times. And they were capable of pure telepathic magic. They started to become less interesting -live anyway – around the time of the “Green” World Tour. Less fun, more regimented set-lists, bigger venues and expectations. U2 syndrome, I suppose.

    The “New Adventures” set should be the most interesting, they were writing and recording loads of new stuff at that point, ‘off the cuff’, as the ill-fated and gargantuan “Monster” tour lumbered around the world. I think that’s what kept them going at that stage, although Berry could understandably take no more and quit thereafter. Effectively ending the balance between the Mills/Stipe and Buck/Berry ‘factions’ that had anchored the band so well up until then.

  18. Eric says:

    Doubly glad now that I never caved and wasted £15 on that rubbish Green deluxe from a year or two back.

  19. Mystery Shopper says:

    Good news indeed. Where it would get interesting is if they include the fanclub singles (their covers of Academy Fight Song and See No Evil are exceptional) on the reissues. There’s some good tracks they put out on various compilations/soundtracks around the early WB years but on the whole there isn’t a great deal of studio B sides as the singles generally contained loads of live tracks that on the whole were taken from their concert DVDs.

  20. Rodolfo Martin says:

    I hope that the bonus material is more generous and abundant than McCartney’s reissues.

  21. MFG says:

    My main concern for the WB reissues is the remastering. The I.R.S. album reissues were too loud, with too much dynamic range compression. The sound was too in-your-face and harder on the ears than the original CDs, especially for Murmur and Reckoning. I have the 2005 WB reissues, and the DVD-A tracks ripped to WAV files sound good enough to me, with a small volume boost and very little compression.

    I did not buy the Green 25th anniversary reissue – any comments on remastering and sound quality compared to the original?

  22. RJSWinchester says:

    I really enjoyed Murmer, New Adventures in Hi-Fi and there’s a couple of good albums in between. However, aside from three songs I’ve never understood the praise heaped upon Automatic for the People. It’s painfully dull in parts, particularly ‘Night Swimming’.

  23. Paul English says:

    I really liked the 1993 reissues of the IRS LPs.

  24. Mark A says:

    Along with the others who have expressed this desire, I am hoping for bonus discs with b-sides, etc. instead of those live albums you listen to once and shelve forever.

    I also wish that R.E.M. would have their catalog released in Japanese papersleeve format (in this case, bonus tracks be damned). AFAIA, none of their albums have ever been released in this format.

  25. William says:

    They need to reissue Green in a totally different format than what they already issued. Possibly B-sides w/ a DVD. But am looking forward to the other albums as deluxes. Even offer Automatic For The People and Out Of Time as SDEs.

  26. Renato says:

    Hope they’ll release proper deluxe editions – the original albums, ALL B-sides (and different A-side versions whenever applicable), outtakes, radio sessions, alternative versions, live tracks, remixes and rarities. All the promo videos and their alternative versions would also be very welcome, same as TV performances. Let’s hope these will be proper “definitive” editions.

  27. Shawn says:

    Please just no card sleeves. It would be nice to actually listen to the music without scratching it all up just getting it out of those damn things. The jewel case is a friend to the collector and the everyday listener, I say.

  28. Pingback:SDE Reissue Preview for 2016 | superdeluxeedition

  29. Jonesy says:

    This is g ood news if we get proper special editions of the albums. I consider the Mobile Fidelity release of Murmur & Reckoning to be the definitive releases of those two, and I think the 24 bit high rez stereo mixes from the DVD-A discs will be tough to beat from a sonic standpoint. However, b-sides and outtakes would be a great addition for the Warner years. A long time ago, R.E.M. use to talk about a box set release of b-sides – perhaps we’ll see something like that released.

  30. Scott says:

    Vinyl…straight from the analogue master tapes. No digital in the chain. Restore the beautiful feedback and stray noises on “Fables Of The Reconstruction” that was edited away when it was brought into the digital realm. The new HD Tracks versions are NOTHING like original R.E.M. vinyl from the 1980s.
    So, do it up…just make sure it’s analogue. Do it right.

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