Spun: R.E.M.

By Peter Hemminger

Let’s throw it out there right away: this is two full discs and a DVD of live R.E.M. material. If you don’t like R.E.M., you likely won’t like this. Alright, now that that’s over with, Live at the Olympia in Dublin is a collection of songs recorded during a five-night stand in the summer of 2007 in Dublin where they played old favourites and mixed in new songs from their since-been-released Accelerate. The live workings of the new songs helped the band release their best album since the mid-’90s, which unfortunately isn’t saying a lot.

Because there are some recently written songs, there are a few mistakes, but they add to the raw feeling of the new material. The rest, a collection of songs ranging mostly from earlier releases, will appeal to fans of the band’s ’80s albums, when they were college radio darlings before hitting it big with their first Warner Brothers’ releases.

R.E.M. has only released two live albums so far in their extended career: this and 2007’s R.E.M. Live. The 2007 release appeals more to the average R.E.M. fan as it features some of their more popular hits. Live at the Olympia doesn’t have “Everybody Hurts” or “Man on the Moon” or pretty much any R.E.M. song you’d hear on the radio. But if you’re a fan of their newer stuff, and haven’t heard their older catalogue, this might be a good way to get into an enjoyable collection of songs — though it might be better just to buy their first greatest hits collection, Eponymous, instead.