September 11, 2006

Free Range Music: R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, Metheny/Mehldau

R.E.M. -- And I Feel Fine...>> As a(n officially old) person who began listening to the band shortly after its indie swan song Document was stocked on the shelves of our long-gone hometown record store (we still have the cassette), we feel we've earned sufficient perspective to expend a few sentences talking about how awesome R.E.M. once was. With the release of the new compilation And I Feel Fine…: Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987, which collects on two discs selections from the band's amazing output on said defunct label, we now even have a news peg upon which to hang our whining. But our sentiments duplicate those of many; they are far from unique. You've heard it all before -- but have you heard it recently?

We were blown away revisiting this stuff this afternoon, much of it for the first time in more than 10 years. AOL Music has the collection in its pre-release album stream corral, and we implore you to have a listen, if only because you probably haven't heard "Pretty Persuasion" in a while. And the tune "I Believe" -- damn that's good... Amazon has R.E.M. performance videos for "Radio Free Europe" and "Wolves, Lower," which are presumably from a companion DVD of videos that is also being released today. You can stream them right off the Amazon site for the record here. Also well worth hearing over at AOL Music are streams for the much-talked-about Yo La Tengo set as well as a very enjoyable collaboration of Brad Mehldau and Pat Metheny. Streams linked below:

Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau -- Metheny/Mehldau -- Nonesuch
R.E.M. -- And I Feel Fine…: Best Of The I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 -- I.R.S.
Yo La Tengo -- I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass -- Matador

>> Despite all the troubles we had finally hearing it, we will say that the final, released mixes of the TV On The Radio set that streets tomorrow are stellar. More guitars, more sonic definition, just all around more pristine-sounding goodness. You'll be surprised to learn that we know this based on the pre-release album stream that was supposed to be a bonus for those pre-ordered Return To Cookie Mountain. As you know from our ongoing rants, the stream offer was a dud, a bait-and-switch. Magically, we received an email from Amazon this morning stating the issue was fixed and we could now access the stream. So we hit it right away just to make sure Amazon wasn't selling wolf tickets -- again. Lo and behold, there was the stream.

Our conspiracy theory? Interscope held the stream up until the last minute to minimize any financial damage a captured and re-distributed rip of the stream might do. Just a conspiracy theory, mind you, but we've read bits here and there from other music bloggers indicating that any pre-release MP3 bloggery of Return To Cookie Mountain was being policed pretty hard. Of course, most everyone in the world already had snatched up the muddy version that had been floating around the Internet since the springtime. Anyway, it was nice to have some closure to this ongoing frustration, but don't expect us to be linking to Amazon too much in the future, the link above to R.E.M. withstanding.

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