Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Certain Songs #1760: R.E.M. – “1,000,000 (Dublin, 2007)” | Medialoper

Album: Live At The Olympia In Dublin 39 Songs
Year: 2007

. . .

File Under Deadlier

Not counting the bonus discs that came with the 25th anniversary editions of Murmur and Reckoning, both of which reclaimed key bootlegs — and not counting video-only releases — R.E.M. put out only two live albums in their existence.

Both were recorded in Dublin, Ireland, and both had a two-year gap between recording and release. And that’s pretty much where the similarities end. In fact, I don’t even think they share any songs.

The first album, simply titled R.E.M. Live, was recorded in 2005, on the Around The Sun tour, and is just. too. big, the aural equivalent of seeing them at the butt end of a giant stadium, and maybe if I hadn’t been digging various bootlegs — and it relied less on Around The Sun songs — I might have enjoyed it. But when it came out in 2007, I played it a couple of times and went back to the boots.

Ah, but the second live album, clumsily titled Live At The Olympia In Dublin 39 Songs, is fucking fantastic, like I’m standing right there in front of them while they play a shitton of songs from their entire career. The only record not represented was Out of Time.

Essentially a public rehearsal to get them up to Accelerate’s return to rock — recorded before, but released after — a hilarious and self-depreciating Michael Stipe called the whole “an exercise in terror.”

Because Accelerate was a concept album about rocking out once again, the whole band — including drummer Bill Reiflin and everything Scott McCaughey — was loose and limber, with the tracklist focusing heavily on the early songs, especially Reckoning and Chronic Town. Which, of course, was fucking catnip to me. Put it this way: including this song right here, I will have written about 22 of the 39 songs on this record. Which is a great batting average.

On Chronic Town, “1,000,000” is one of the most controlled of the songs: Peter Buck’s guitar chimes and jangles and Michael Stipe keeps on the melody line. The only real frisson comes from Bill Berry’s tumbling tom fills.

Secluded in a marker stone
Not only deadlier but smarter, too
Smarter, too
All along the tomb
All along the ruin
Secluded in a marker stone
Not only deadlier but smarter, too
Smarter, too

A quarter-century later, with nothing to prove nor lose, “1,000,000” comes roaring out of the gates with the guitars of both Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey set for maximum fuzz, even on the jangly parts, and with Bill Reiflin deep in the pocket, it rocks the fuck out, with Michael Stipe having fun pronouncing “stone” as “stoin” and stretching out “smarter too-ooo-hooo” in the second verse.

Oh, and there’s also a great harmony on the chorus from Mike Mills that helps capture both the ludicrousness and hope of “I could live a million years.

Breathing new life into songs your fans have treasured and listened to for decades is no mean feat, but “1,000,000” is hardly the only great performance of a great song that exists on the clumsily-titled Live At The Olympia In Dublin 39 Songs, which is easily my favorite R.E.M. release of the 2000s and as such is highly highly recommended to both people who have never heard them and hardcore fans alike.

“1,000,000” live at the Olympia, 2007

Fan-shot bootleg of R.E.M. performing “1,000,000” at the Olympia 2007

“1,000,000” performed live in Raleigh, 1982

“1,000,000” from Chronic Town

The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page


No comments: