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New Adventures in Hi-Fi is the tenth studio album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was their fifth major label release for Warner Bros. Records, released on September 9, 1996, in Europe and Australia and the following day in the United States. New Adventures in Hi-Fi was the last album recorded with founding member Bill Berry (who left the band amicably the following year), original manager Jefferson Holt, and long-time producer Scott Litt.

Composition and recording



The album was recorded during and after the tour in support of Monster in 1995. The material on the album mixed the acoustic, country rock feel of much of Out of Time and Automatic for the People with the rock sound of Monster and Lifes Rich Pageant. The band have cited Neil Young's 1973 album Time Fades Away as a source of inspiration.

The band noted that they borrowed the recording process for the album from Radiohead, who recorded some of the basic tracks for The Bends while on tour and who were supporting the band in 1994 and 1995. R.E.M. brought along eight-track recorders to capture their live performances, and used the recordings as the base elements for the album. As such, the band's touring musicians Nathan December and Scott McCaughey are featured throughout the album with Andy Carlson contributing violin to "Electrolite." After the tour was over, the band went into the Bad Animals Studio and recorded four additional tracks, "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us," "E-Bow the Letter," "Be Mine," and "New Test Leper." Patti Smith came to the sessions and contributed vocals on "E-Bow the Letter." Audio mixing was finished at John Keane Studio in Athens and Louie's Clubhouse in Los Angeles with mastering by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine.

In part due to the nature of the recording process, several of the songs are about travel and motionâ€"including "Departure", "Leave", and "Low Desert". The album's liner notes contain pictures from the road and the deluxe edition of the album is a hardcover book in a slipcase featuring more photographs of R.E.M.'s tour.

Critical reception



Critical reaction to the album was mostly favorable. Several publications lauded the album for its rich diversity, including Rolling Stone, Q, and Mojo. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic says "in its multifaceted sprawl, they wound up with one of their best records of the '90s." At the same time, however, Melody Maker criticized the album's empty and flat sound caused by recording in arenas and soundchecks.

Awards

New Adventures in Hi-Fi has since appeared on several lists compiling the best albums of the 1990s or all time:

  • Magnet: Top 60 Albums 1993â€"2003 (#20)
  • Mojo: The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime 1993â€"2006 (#20)

It was also featured on several year-end best-of lists for 1996:

  • Eye Weekly (#11)
  • The Face (#28)
  • Magnet (#26)
  • Mojo (#4)
  • New Musical Express (#16)
  • Q (unranked)
  • Rock Sound (French edition) (#2)
  • Rolling Stone (#4)
  • Spin (#11)
  • Village Voice (#11)

Track listing



All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe:

The Hi Side
  1. "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us" â€" 4:31
  2. "The Wake-Up Bomb" â€" 5:08
  3. "New Test Leper" â€" 5:26
  4. "Undertow" â€" 5:09
  5. "E-Bow the Letter" â€" 5:23
  6. "Leave" â€" 7:18
The Fi Side
  1. "Departure" â€" 3:28
  2. "Bittersweet Me" â€" 4:06
  3. "Be Mine" â€" 5:32
  4. "Binky the Doormat" â€" 5:01
  5. "Zither" â€" 2:33
  6. "So Fast, So Numb" â€" 4:12
  7. "Low Desert" â€" 3:30
  8. "Electrolite" â€" 4:05

Unlike most R.E.M. albums, this vinyl release did not have custom side names and was instead released as a double album. Record one has tracks 1â€"6 (3 songs per side) and record two has tracks 7â€"14 (4 songs per side). However, the tape release had custom side names. The first side was called the "Hi-side" and the second side was called the "Fi-side."

Singles and B-sides



New Adventures in Hi-Fi consisted of material written during some of the same sessions as Monster and its following promotional tour; consequently, there were few outtakes or left-over tracks for inclusion as b-sides. The first three tracks were international singles, with "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us" being released only in Germany.

"E-Bow the Letter"
  • "Tricycle" â€" 1:59 Recorded during soundcheck at the Riverport Amphitheater, St. Louis, United States on September 22, 1995.
  • "Departure" (Rome soundcheck version) â€" 3:35 Recorded during soundcheck at the Palaeur, Rome, Italy on February 22, 1995.
  • "Wall of Death" (Richard Thompson) â€" 3:07 Taken from the Richard Thompson tribute album, Beat the Retreat.
"Bittersweet Me"
  • "Undertow" (Live) â€" 5:05 Recorded at the Omni Theater, Atlanta, Georgia on November 18, 1995. Taken from the live performance video, Road Movie.
  • "Wichita Lineman" (Jimmy Webb) â€" 3:18 Recorded at The Woodlands, Houston, United States on September 15, 1995.
  • "New Test Leper" (Live acoustic) â€" 5:29 Recorded at Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, United States on April 19, 1996.
"Electrolite"
  • "The Wake-Up Bomb" (Live) â€" 5:07 Recorded at the Omni Theater, Atlanta, Georgia on November 18, 1995. Taken from the live performance video, Road Movie.
  • "Binky the Doormat" (Live) â€" 5:01 Recorded at the Omni Theater, Atlanta, Georgia on November 18, 1995. Taken from the live performance video, Road Movie.
  • "King of Comedy" (808 State remix) â€" 5:36
"How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us"
  • "Love Is All Around" (Reg Presley) â€" 3:04 Previously released on the 1996 soundtrack for I Shot Andy Warhol.
  • "Sponge" (Vic Chesnutt) â€" 4:08 Previously released on the Chesnutt benefit album Sweet Relief II in 1996.
  • "Be Mine" (Mike on the Bus Version) â€" 4:54

"Revolution" was also released from these sessionsâ€"initially on the Batman & Robin soundtrack and later on disc two of In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003.

Other singles

"New Test Leper" and "The Wake-Up Bomb" were released as promotional singles for the album; the former had a music video directed by Lance Bangs and Dominic DeJoseph. All five videos from the album would later be collected on In View: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003.

The R.E.M. fan club releases a single every Christmas time, with two singles recorded during these sessions: 1996's "Only in America" (originally by Jay & The Americans)/"I Will Survive" (a Gloria Gaynor cover) and 1997's R.E.M. original "Live for Today" was backed with Pearl Jam's "Happy When I'm Crying".

Personnel



"How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
  • Bill Berry â€" drums, percussion, "ennio whistle"
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, bass guitar
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, piano, backing vocals, synthesizer
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals, synthesizer
"The Wake-Up Bomb"
Recorded live at the North Charleston Coliseum, in Charleston, United States on November 16, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" guitar
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, backing vocals, organ
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"New Test Leper"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
  • Bill Berry â€" drums, percussion
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, backing vocals, organ
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Undertow"
Recorded live at the Fleet Center in Boston, United States on October 3, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" guitar
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"E-Bow the Letter"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
  • Bill Berry â€" drums, percussion
  • Peter Buck â€" e-bow guitar, electric sitar
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, backing vocals, organ, Moog synthesizer, Mellotron
  • Patti Smith â€" vocals
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Leave"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Omni Theater in Atlanta, United States on November 18, 19, or 21, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums, acoustic guitar, synthesizer
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" guitar
  • Scott McCaughey â€" ARP Odyssey
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, keyboards
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Departure"
Recorded live at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, United States on June 6 or 7, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" guitar
  • Mike Mills â€" fuzz bass, backing vocals, Farfisa organ
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Bittersweet Me"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, United States on November 7, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Scott McCaughey â€" piano
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, organ, Mellotron
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Be Mine"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" bass guitar
  • Mike Mills â€" guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Binky the Doormat"
Recorded live at the Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix, United States on November 4, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums, backing vocals
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" guitar
  • Scott McCaughey â€" Farfisa organ
  • Mike Mills â€" fuzz bass, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Zither"
Recorded in the dressing room of The Spectrum in Philadelphia, United States on October 12, 13, or 14, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" bass guitar
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" tambourine
  • Scott McCaughey â€" autoharp
  • Mike Mills â€" organ
  • Michael Stipe â€" count in
"So Fast, So Numb"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, United States on November 15, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Scott McCaughey â€" piano
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, backing vocals, organ
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Low Desert"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Omni Theater in Atlanta, United States on November 18, 19, or 21, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" guitar
  • Nathan December â€" slide guitar
  • Scott McCaughey â€" piano
  • Mike Mills â€" bass guitar, organ
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
"Electrolite"
Recorded at a soundcheck the Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix, United States on November 4, 1995
  • Bill Berry â€" drums
  • Peter Buck â€" banjo
  • Andy Carlson â€" violin
  • Nathan December â€" guiro
  • Mike Mills â€" piano
  • Michael Stipe â€" vocals
Technical crew
  • William Field â€" assistant engineering, Athens
  • Sam Hofstedt â€" assistant engineering, Seattle
  • Victor Janacua â€" assistant engineering, Los Angeles
  • Adam Kasper â€" recording engineering, Seattle
  • John Keane â€" recording and mixing
  • Scott Litt â€" mixing
  • Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering â€" mastering
  • Pat McCarthy â€" recording, Los Angeles
  • Mark "Microwave" Mytrowitz â€" technical assistance
  • Joe O'Herlihy â€" tour recording engineer
  • Jo Ravitch â€" tour recording engineer
  • Eric Stolz â€" digital editing
  • Jeff Wooding â€" tour recording engineer

Chart performance



While New Adventures in Hi-Fi began the band's sales decline in the United States, it topped the charts in over 10 countries and reached #1 on the Top European Albums for 5 consecutive weeks. The album peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and spent 22 weeks on chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it has sold 994,000 units in their homeland as of March 2007. The first single "E-Bow the Letter" received only modest radio airplay in the U.S. and peaked at #49 on the U.S. charts. In the UK, however, the single became the band's biggest hit at that point, reaching #4.

Certifications

Release history



Like all R.E.M. albums since 1988's Green, New Adventures in Hi-Fi was released in a limited edition packaging containing a 64-page hardcover book designed by Chris Bilheimer and featuring photos from the Monster tour. In 2005, Warner Brothers Records issued an expanded two-disc edition of the album which included a CD, a DVD-Audio disc containing several new audio mixes of the album (5.1-channel surround sound, high resolution, AC3, Dolby Stereo, and DTS 5.1) done by Elliot Scheiner, and the original CD booklet with expanded liner notes. In addition, the DVD includes a video documentary, lyrics, and a photo gallery.

References



External links



  • New Adventures in Hi-Fi from REMHQ.com
  • New Adventures in Hi-Fi press release
  • New Adventures in Hi-Fi at MusicBrainz (list of releases)
  • New Adventures in Hi-Fi on Lyric Wiki, an external wiki


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