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Adam Scott Aukerman continue on this week to discuss R.E.M.’s tenth studio album New Adventures in Hi-Fi. We’ll hear from a listener during an episode of “How’s Your Baby” and Adam tries to figure out which Parks & Rec character he would be. Then they cover how an onstage aneurysm in Switzerland led R.E.M. to produce the looser 1996 album before listening through song by song.

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Tea and crumpets and New Adventures In Hi-Fi on the gramaphone is a jolly-good spiffing way to spend an afternoon as far as I'm concerned!

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Electrolite >> Bittersweet Me, and i agree with Adam on E-Bow being 1) Way too weird to be a single; and 2) Beautiful, and my favorite.

 

Also, i feel like i almost, almost, know how it feels like to be in R.E.M.

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I definitely remember my roommate getting this album and being unimpressed. Sounded like they were running out of steam, and running out of hooks. I agree with Scott, the rockers should have been more rockin'. I am curious to hear the coming episodes because to me REM basically ended here. I liked a couple things on Up and then I stopped listening. Seeing them live in 2004 in a theater they were very much in late-career rock band mode, trying to slip a couple new album tracks into what otherwise was very much a greatest hits show.

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I'd like to register a complaint about the sub-podcast "How's Your Baby?":

 

The theme song should clearly be "Baby Baby Baby" by Justin Bieber as it has 3 times as many "baby"s in the title as Eddy Money's "Baby Hold On to Me."

 

Thank you.

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I'm a huge fan of Hi-Fi, and am one of those who think it's an underrated masterpiece. The songwriting throughout is just so very good, and interesting, and unique. I recognize some of Scott's points: it is too long as a whole (a common '90s thing tho), and some of the production isn't quite 100% there. But there's just so very many GREAT songs: "How The West Was Won" and "E-Bow" are brilliant. I've had periods where both "Undertow" and "Low Desert" were my favorite REM song, I love the hypnotic atmospheric melodic riff style of things. I always forget about "Be Mine" but I love it too. "Bittersweet Me." The whole thing is beautifully capped by "Electrolite".

 

If I had to cut anything to make it shorter, I'd probably just cut the "Binky"/"Zither"/"So Fast" run and leave the rest as is.

 

This was an especially thought-provoking episode for me though, esp. with Scott's points. And I'm curious to try rearranging it myself. But generally I wouldn't want to change anything here. There is so many directions and contours and stuff here, it's a jam-packed record.

 

Also, I listened to this whole episode while waiting at jury duty yesterday (have to go back this afternoon ugh). Thanks to Scott & Adam for the well-timed entertainment (as always). :)

 

Current album rankings:

 

1. Automatic For The People

2. Fables Of The Reconstruction

3. New Adventures In Hi-Fi

4. Murmur

5. Reckoning

6. Out Of Time

7. Document

8. Monster

9. Lifes Rich Pageant

10. Green

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Also, i feel like i almost, almost, know how it feels like to be in R.E.M.

 

Good! (I don't mean that it feels good, because I don't know how it feels to be in REM; I mean that it's good that you feel like you almost know how it feels.)

 

If they can't do another series, I hope they can at least do a ten-part spin-off where they dissect each of those Jim Nabors records.

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How I rank the songs:

1. E-Bow the Letter

2. Undertow (Scott is SO wrong about this one)

3. How the West Was Won and Where it Got Us

4. Electrolite

5. Leave

6. New Test Leper

7. The Wake-Up Bomb

8. Bittersweet Me

9. Binky the Doormat

10. So Fast, So Numb (sorry, Adam)

11. Departure

12. Be Mine (sorry, Scotts!)

13. Low Desert

14. Zither

 

It's weird how I prefer almost all the songs on side one to the ones on side two (if Departure and Electrolite switched places, it would be an exact split).

 

My album rankings so far:

1. Automatic for the People

2. Document

3. Green

4. New Adventures in Hi-Fi

5. Monster

6. Lifes Rich Pageant

7. Fables of the Reconstruction

8. Murmur

9. Reckoning

10. Out of Time

 

New Adventures would be in the number 1 position if you created a tight 10-track album by removing the four weakest songs. That being said, I do like Departure and Be Mine.

 

I'm looking forward to the criminally underrated Up.

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God this song is the gift that keeps on giving. I'd be pretty happy if they found a reason to play it and laugh during it each episode.

 

 

Hey!! Thank you!

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Kinda surprised that this album is as highly regarded as it is, seeing as how 1) it was a tour document album, with all the looseness and post-grunge bloat that implies, and 2) it was kinda commercial suicide for them. I've never been a fan of Stipe's beat poetry songs (and yes, that includes "Country Feedback"), and this album's got two that they thought would be singles. "Bittersweet Me" absolutely should have been the leadoff single, but "Leave" could have maybe been a single if they'd shortened it considerably and taken at least 40% of the siren guitar out. The concert treatment livens up "So Fast, So Numb" considerably (see the video of that all-request concert from Germany)

 

The discussion on alternate track listings proves to be a fascinating direction. I'd probably keep it mostly as is other than maybe swapping sides for "Bittersweet Me" and "New Test Leper" and taking "Binky" and "Low Desert" out.

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