REM – Out of Time (25th Anniversary)

Out of Time returns to vinyl in this 3-LP reissue to commemorate the 25th Anniversary. John Earls reports…

Out of time


Although Automatic For The People tends to get the reverence, it was Out Of Time that turned R.E.M. stadium-sized, complete with Losing My Religion and Shiny Happy People. Perhaps it’s that latter song’s frivolity that means Out Of Time is relatively overlooked, but it’s at least the equal of its lauded follow-up.

True, the opening rap-rock Radio Song and its verse from KRS-One has aged badly, but from there on in Out Of Time is the sound of a band experimenting while keeping melody to the fore. Country Feedback and Texarkana are as beautiful as anything R.E.M. ever did, and Near Wild Heaven is as delicious a pop song as the past 25 years has produced.
For its anniversary, Warner has added 19 demos, all present across the triple-vinyl format. There’s a fine interview booklet too, with contributions from all of the band as well as producers Scott Litt and John Keane. Yet, at £60, you’d hope there’d be a download link to the live songs featured on the deluxe CD edition too. And why has Warner dropped altogether excellent B-sides from the era, which include It’s A Free World Baby? For that price, a disc featuring the extra tracks from the album’s four singles would have felt more thorough.
There’s never been a definitive edition of any R.E.M. album. Thanks to Warner not quite seeing the job through, there still isn’t.