In the history of R.E.M., one of our most storied bands, the 1994 album Monster occupies a strange place. When R.E.M. made Monster, they were straight-up arena stars riding a career pinnacle. 1992’s Automatic For The People had sold 18 million copies, an absurd number for a band that had started out as a college-rock underground sensation a decade earlier, and figures as vaunted as Kurt Cobain and Thom Yorke considered Michael Stipe to be a mentor and a positive example. But when they could’ve gone on making pretty and life-affirming music forever, R.E.M. switched things up, abandoning the stately and folk-informed sounds of their previous albums and diving instead into revved-up, glam-influenced distorto-rock. The results were… divisive.
Monster was not a flop. It debuted at #1, went quadruple platinum, and spun off five singles. A lot of critics loved it. But the album was still received as something of a letdown after Automatic For The People and Out Of Time. Monster sold a lot less than those previous albums, and a lot of critics and fans weren’t into the louder new sound. R.E.M. would never return to their previous all-conquering success. But Monster has aged awfully well. The sound is bright and engaged and layered, and it has hooks for days. (“Crush With Eyeliner” is a fucking banger.) It’s due for reappraisal, especially after the joyous vision of an ultra-stoned Andrew Garfield dancing to “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth” in this year’s perplexing neo-noir Under The Silver Lake.
Later this fall, Craft Recordings will release a grand 25th-anniversary reissue of Monster in a bunch of physical formats. (It’ll also be available digitally.) The deluxe version is a six-disc box set with five CDs and one Blu-Ray. That set will include the original album, a remixed version from R.E.M. producer Scott Litt, a CD of previously unreleased demos, and a live album that captures a 1995 performance in Chicago. The Blu-Ray will have the 90-minute documentary Road Movie and all six of the album’s music videos, and the set will also have a portfolio book with archival photos and liner notes from writer Matthew Perpetua.
Along with the announcement, R.E.M. have shared audio of the remixed “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” Listen below.