25th Anniversary 5CD + Blu-ray Box Set featuring Original Album Remastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, Special 2019 Remix by Monster Producer Scott Litt, Previously Unreleased Demos, and Unreleased Live Performance Plus Monster in Hi-Resolution Audio and 5.1 Surround Sound
Craft Recordings present a 25th anniversary five-CD plus Blu-ray deluxe box set reissue of R.E.M.'s acclaimed ninth album, Monster featuring the original album remastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound, a special 2019 remix from Monster producer Scott Litt, a CD of previously unreleased demos from the album and a complete live 1995 performance captured in Chicago. The accompanying Blu-ray offers Monster in both hi-resolution audio and 5.1 Surround Sound, as well as a host of video content: the 90-minute film Road Movie, which documents R.E.M.'s 1995 tour, and all six music videos from Monster. The collection will be packaged in a five-and-a-half-inch portfolio book, featuring liner notes by journalist Matthew Perpetua – with new insight from band members – and archival photographs.
When Monster was released in September 1994, the members of R.E.M. were at a crossroads in their career. Singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry were decompressing from the massive commercial and critical success of 1991's Out of Time and 1992's Automatic for the People. In just a few years, the Athens, GA, four-piece had become one of the biggest, most recognizable bands in the world, thanks to hits like "Losing My Religion," "Man on the Moon" and "Everybody Hurts." It had also been six years since the group had toured. By the time that work began on Monster, they were itching to end their self-imposed hiatus and get back on the road. The band was also looking for a sonic shake-up. While R.E.M.'s last two albums were full of ballads, acoustic rock songs and intricate arrangements, the group was ready to record something grittier, brasher and highly playable on stage. The group was also reeling from the strange nature of celebrity and identity, and many of the songs in this album reflect that. As dark as some of the subject matter is, though, R.E.M. still infuses the songs with a dash of absurdity, irony and a humorous wink.
Highlights include the distortion-soaked first single, "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" which plays off the farce of media and marketing that pervaded Gen X pop-culture, while the catchy "Star 69" is a detective story, based on the ‘90s phone service of the same name (a precursor to caller ID). The second single, "Bang and Blame," features Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, as well as actress Rain Phoenix – whose brother, River, had recently passed away and was Monster's dedicatee. "Let Me In" is an ode to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who had died by suicide just months before. Mills, who swapped his bass for Cobain's guitar on the track, shares, "It's Michael's cathartic release in response to the loss of a good friend and someone we all felt creatively aligned with." The band's new artistic direction proved to be a hit. Monster debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and would be certified four-times Platinum in the U.S. Rolling Stone offered this praise: "R.E.M.'s exceptional pop craftsmanship, their luminous melodic inventions, their sense of mission – in short, everything fundamental – are still there and shining more brightly than ever ... Monster is one urgent-sounding album, and that's as it should be."
In addition to having the chance to reflect on Monster, R.E.M. also had the opportunity to revisit the album creatively with their longtime producer, Scott Litt. Litt, who struggled with the original mix, recalls, "I had told the band through the years that if there was ever a chance to take another shot at mixing the album, I wanted to do it." Now, 25 years later, he's had the chance, and the results are striking. On some songs, according to Perpetua, Litt's work features, "Entirely different vocal takes and instrumental parts that were either buried or excised from the original album mix." Mills adds, "I think as he listened to it over the years, he began to hear a different way to realize those songs." Ultimately, with this reissue, fans will not only have the opportunity to re-discover Monster but also, perhaps, see the album in a completely new light.
• 25th anniversary 5CD + Blu-ray Box Set reissue from Craft Recordings
• CD1 - Original album remastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound
• CD2 - 15 previously unreleased demos
• CD3 - Special 2019 remix by original producer Scott Litt
• CD4&5 - Two disc unreleased live set from the 1995 Monster Tour
• Blu-ray - Monster in both hi-resolution audio and 5.1 Surround Sound, 90-minute film Road Movie and 6 music videos
• Porfolio book with new liner notes from Matthew Perpetua featuring interviews with members of the band plus archival photos
• Reimagined artwork by original cover artist Chris Bilheimer