The End Of The Album As We Know It And I Feel Fine

THE FINEST HOUR: R.E.M., The Mann, 6/18/08 [Photos by JONATHAN VALANIA]

BLACK RIM GLASSES: Last week marked  the release of an album I have been associated with in some form for two years now. That doesn’t mean that I had anything to do with its creation, just that I was associated with it. To that regard, I was there for mixing, marketing and release. The record is from a group of people collectively known as R.E.M. I predict it is the last “Album” they will release. In fact, I predict that 2011 is the last year of the Album (capital A). In the press right now, Michael Stipe is talking about the 12 videos (or films) he is having made for the record, one per song. In his press quotes he describes the videos as representing to him the concept of what an album is and could be in the 21st century. During recording, he and I spoke somewhat about the nature of what it means to make a “record” and what that entails. As part of this discussion, and thinking about ideas for what we could do to break the mold (the video project, an app, something on the web), I started outlining the evolution of what I considered an album since I started buying them. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: I can count on two hands the number of times I have seen R.E.M. over the years, and last night was by far the best — for reasons far too innumerable to go into here, and for most to mean anything you had to be there. Sorry. You had your chance. But the one thing will I never forget is the image of the bookish, bespectacled girl next to me awkwardly dancing her little double-latte heart out — kinda looked like she was flapping her wings, to the casual observer — during “Losing My Religion.” She looked like somebody who is rarely, if ever, so physically demonstrative in public and for good reason — her semi-private choreography was straight out of the Elaine Benes Big Book Of How Not To Dance. And I thought, you go girl: This is what REM was always about — the bookish, the arty, and the awkward finally feeling like they belong and trying, in their own way, to be free. MORE

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