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New Adventures in Hi-Fi Import

208 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, September 10, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

After finishing the Monster tour with a huge quantity of newly written material, R.E.M. quickly began the task of transforming it into an album. The result is New Adventures In Hi-Fi, the most dramatic and wide-ranging musical statement the group have ever made. The 14 songs range from hushed acoustic to full-on electric, from studio recordings in Seattle to an acoustic jam in a Philadelphia bathroom. Both spontaneous-sounding and intensely focused, the album represents the band at the pinnacle of their creative powers. Certified gold by the RIAA. (6/93)

New Adventures, despite its studiocentric title, is a snapshots-from-the-road record in the tradition of Neil Young's Time Fades Away and Jackson Browne's Running on Empty. Like them, it captures a where-am-I-and-why ambience, even with its concert and sound-check material reworked in post-tour sessions. This is very much a transitional album, its feel somewhere between the chamber-folk sweep of Out of Time and Automatic for the People and the distortion-pedal party that raged on Monster. It's the work of a band pretty near its peak consolidating familiar sounds and styles while tinkering with the edges. --Rickey Wright

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 10, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B000002N9S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,797 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By M. Swinney on January 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
For R.E.M, the group we grew up with, "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," is really their coda. After "New Adventures," with the loss of drummer Bill Berry, the band morphed into something different. So this is the last chance we have to capture the R.E.M. of old, but be warned this just isn't a group comfortable with their lofty position of pop and rock icons and churning out the same old stuff (not that the same old stuff was anything to ignore). This is R.E.M at their experimental and expanding best. As they made their last album with Berry, they were still growing. Now they still make good music, but come across more as the Michael Stipe Group with, "Up" and "Reveal."
This album was made on the road during the "Monster" tour in which untold tragedies, infirmities and maladies befell the band. Instead of coming off like sound checks and a semi-live album though, it really does reach the listener as coming from the studio, sound-wise. But maybe there is an immediacy behind the songs, a one take, no overlays sound that belies its live origins. Whatever it is, this is one great, energetic, mysterious and beautiful record.
"Undertow" does for water what "Fall on Me" did for the sky. "Go down to the water, get down in the water, walk up off the water...I'm drowning." E-bow The Letter lets Stipe get to duet with one of R.E.M.'s big influences Patti Smith as she drones a mother in the background, "I'll take you over," Stipe answers, "aluminum it tastes like fear" and in the cold bite of aluminum on your teeth the fear analogy works deep and real.
One of R.E.M's best songs is on this album, but hardly noticed to the world at large, "Leave.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1998
Format: Audio CD
I have an extremely difficult time choosing between this one and "Automatic for the People" as the best R.E.M. album, so I don't bother anymore. "Automatic" was more intrinsically moving and gorgeous, but "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" is much more varied. It runs the gamut from soothing ballads ("How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us") to hard rockers ("So Fast So Numb"). Another thing in this album's favor is that its instrumental, "Zither," is better.
But, on its own merits, this album is harrowing in its disillusionment, yet it's not depressing. It's great that you can understand Michael Stipe in most of the songs. The lyrics tell of disillusionment of posturing ("The Wake-Up Bomb") and religion ("New Test Leper").
I simply love most of the music, too. "E-Bow the Letter" has one of the most haunting melodies in any R.E.M. song, and Patty Smith's backing vocals only add to that effect. "Bittersweet Me" has probably the best mix of mellow sensibility and guitar work of any R.E.M. song. I've always adored Stipe's vocals over piano, so it shouldn't surprise that "Electrolite" is one of my favorite songs. Everything: piano, vocal, strings, percussion, guitar blend so well in it, and what better way to end an album than with "I'm outta here"? Of course, it's a bit eerie now since Bill Berry left, but it's still very apropos. Another great song in terms of sonic effect is "Leave," with its awesome guitar/bass/drum lines and Stipe's soaring vocals in the refrain. "Undertow" is exceptional in the way it builds throughout the verses, and the music and harmonies here are superb in execution.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Vikram Joseph on May 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
After the globe-conquering high of Automatic For The People, REM looked in danger of burning out, with the not-quite-properly-realised Monster and the stress of the tour which followed. But out of that tour's ashes rose this astonishing collection. It became perhaps inevitably their darkest album yet, but, crucially, that never makes it hard to listen to.
It's pretty long at 66 minutes, but it hardly ever drains the listener. It's a collection of studio takes, live performances and soundchecks, and a lot of the energy filters through onto the CD.
The album opens in characteristically uncharacteristic fashion, with the distorted beats and edgy piano line of How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us, a stark and twisted country-rock piece with a unnervingly off-kilter piano solo in the middle. The Wake-Up Bomb could hardly be more different, a blazing glam-rock storm which carries the listener along on a tide of acidic sentiment. "I had to write the great American novel," sneers Michael Stipe sarcastically, "I had a neutron bomb." The interesting thing about New Adventures is that, whereas on Monster they tried desperately to rock out and always sounded a bit contrived, here they do it with great natural ease.
New Test Leper has a wonderfully pretty, lilting melody. It tells of a AIDS sufferer's awful experience on a TV chat show, and Stipe does it brilliantly, making his character totally sympathetic without ever being patronising. The lyrics are actually essential reading. "When I tried to tell my story, they cut me off to take a break. I sat silent five commercials - I had nothing left to say."
Undertow is one of the album's most intriguing tracks. Based around just two chords, it feels oppressive and claustrophobic, but in a positive way.
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