New Adventures in Hi-Fi

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New Adventures in Hi-Fi
A black and white photograph of a hot desert
Cover to the standard edition of the album
Studio album by R.E.M.
Released September 9, 1996 (1996-09-09)
Recorded 1995–1996 at various locations in the United States
Genre Alternative rock
Length 65:33
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Scott Litt and R.E.M.
R.E.M. chronology
Parallel
(1995)
New Adventures in Hi-Fi
(1996)
Road Movie
(1996)
Singles from New Adventures in Hi-Fi
  1. "E-Bow the Letter"
    Released: August 27, 1996 (1996-08-27)
  2. "Bittersweet Me"
    Released: November 5, 1996 (1996-11-05)
  3. "Electrolite"
    Released: December 1996 (1996-12)
  4. "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us"
    Released: April 1997 (1997-04)
  5. "The Wake-Up Bomb"
    Released: 1997 (1997) (promo only)
  6. "New Test Leper"
    Released: 1997 (1997) (promo only)
Special Edition
Special edition of the album—a cardboard slipcase covers a 64-page hardback book

New Adventures in Hi-Fi is the tenth studio album by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was their fifth major label release for Warner Bros. Records, released on September 9, 1996, in Europe and Australia and the following day in the United States. New Adventures in Hi-Fi was the last album recorded with founding member Bill Berry (who left the band amicably the following year), original manager Jefferson Holt, and long-time producer Scott Litt.

Composition and recording[edit]

The album was recorded during and after the tour in support of Monster in 1995. The material on the album mixed the acoustic, country rock feel of much of Out of Time and Automatic for the People with the rock sound of Monster and Lifes Rich Pageant. The band have cited Neil Young's 1973 album Time Fades Away as a source of inspiration.[1]

The band noted that they borrowed the recording process for the album from Radiohead, who recorded some of the basic tracks for The Bends while on tour and who were supporting the band in 1994 and 1995. R.E.M. brought along eight-track recorders to capture their live performances, and used the recordings as the base elements for the album. As such, the band's touring musicians Nathan December and Scott McCaughey are featured throughout the album with Andy Carlson contributing violin to "Electrolite." After the tour was over, the band went into the Bad Animals Studio and recorded four additional tracks, "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us," "E-Bow the Letter," "Be Mine," and "New Test Leper." Patti Smith came to the sessions and contributed vocals on "E-Bow the Letter." Audio mixing was finished at John Keane Studio in Athens and Louie's Clubhouse in Los Angeles with mastering by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine.

In part due to the nature of the recording process, several of the songs are about travel and motion—including "Departure", "Leave", and "Low Desert". The album's liner notes contain pictures from the road and the deluxe edition of the album is a hardcover book in a slipcase featuring more photographs of R.E.M.'s tour.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars [2]
Blender 3/5 stars [3]
Entertainment Weekly A [4]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars [5]
The New York Times Positive [6]
Q 5/5 stars[citation needed]
Robert Christgau A− [7]
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars [8]
Stylus Magazine Positive [9]

Critical reaction to the album was mostly positive. Several publications lauded the album for its rich diversity, including Rolling Stone, Q, and Mojo and Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic says "in its multifaceted sprawl, they wound up with one of their best records of the '90s."[2] At the same time, however some publications including Melody Maker, criticized the album's empty and flat sound caused by recording in arenas and soundchecks.[10]

Awards[edit]

New Adventures in Hi-Fi has since appeared on several lists compiling the best albums of the 1990s or all time:

  • Magnet: Top 60 Albums 1993–2003 (#20)[11]
  • Mojo: The 100 Greatest Albums of Our Lifetime 1993–2006 (#20)

It was also featured on several year-end best-of lists for 1996:

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe:

The Hi Side
  1. "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us" – 4:31
  2. "The Wake-Up Bomb" – 5:08
  3. "New Test Leper" – 5:26
  4. "Undertow" – 5:09
  5. "E-Bow the Letter" – 5:23
  6. "Leave" – 7:18
The Fi Side
  1. "Departure" – 3:28
  2. "Bittersweet Me" – 4:06
  3. "Be Mine" – 5:32
  4. "Binky the Doormat" – 5:01
  5. "Zither" – 2:33
  6. "So Fast, So Numb" – 4:12
  7. "Low Desert" – 3:30
  8. "Electrolite" – 4:05

Unlike most R.E.M. albums, this vinyl release did not have custom side names and was instead released as a double album. Record one has tracks 1–6 (3 songs per side) and record two has tracks 7–14 (4 songs per side). However, the tape release had custom side names. The first side was called the "Hi-side" and the second side was called the "Fi-side."

Singles and B-sides[edit]

New Adventures in Hi-Fi consisted of material written during some of the same sessions as Monster and its following promotional tour; consequently, there were few outtakes or left-over tracks for inclusion as b-sides. The first three tracks were international singles, with "How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us" being released only in Germany.

"E-Bow the Letter"
"Bittersweet Me"
  • "Undertow" (Live) – 5:05 Recorded at the Omni Theater, Atlanta, Georgia on November 18, 1995. Taken from the live performance video, Road Movie.
  • "Wichita Lineman" (Jimmy Webb) – 3:18 Recorded at The Woodlands, Houston, United States on September 15, 1995.
  • "New Test Leper" (Live acoustic) – 5:29 Recorded at Bad Animals Studio, Seattle, United States on April 19, 1996.
"Electrolite"
  • "The Wake-Up Bomb" (Live) – 5:07 Recorded at the Omni Theater, Atlanta, Georgia on November 18, 1995. Taken from the live performance video, Road Movie.
  • "Binky the Doormat" (Live) – 5:01 Recorded at the Omni Theater, Atlanta, Georgia on November 18, 1995. Taken from the live performance video, Road Movie.
  • "King of Comedy" (808 State remix) – 5:36
"How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us"

"Revolution" was also released from these sessions—initially on the Batman & Robin soundtrack and later on disc two of In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003.

Other singles

"New Test Leper" and "The Wake-Up Bomb" were released as promotional singles for the album; the former had a music video directed by Lance Bangs and Dominic DeJoseph. All five videos from the album would later be collected on In View: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003.

The R.E.M. fan club releases a single every Christmas time, with two singles recorded during these sessions: 1996's "Only in America" (originally by Jay & The Americans)/"I Will Survive" (a Gloria Gaynor cover) and 1997's R.E.M. original "Live for Today" was backed with Pearl Jam's "Happy When I'm Crying".

Personnel[edit]

A view of the Pyramind Arena on the river
Memphis, Tennessee's Pyramid Arena was one of several locations used to record New Adventures in Hi-Fi
A photograph of Patti Smith looking to the side of the camera while performing onstage
Patti Smith—an influence on Peter Buck and Michael Stipe—added vocals to lead single "E-Bow the Letter"
Scott McCaughey holding a guitar and smiling onstage
New Adventures in Hi-Fi represented the beginning of R.E.M.'s long-time association with Seattle-based multi-instrumentalist Scott McCaughey (pictured here in 2011)
"How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
"The Wake-Up Bomb"
Recorded live at the North Charleston Coliseum, in Charleston, United States on November 16, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Nathan December – guitar
  • Mike Mills – bass guitar, backing vocals, organ
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"New Test Leper"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
  • Bill Berry – drums, percussion
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Mike Mills – bass guitar, backing vocals, organ
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Undertow"
Recorded live at the Fleet Center in Boston, United States on October 3, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Nathan December – guitar
  • Mike Mills – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"E-Bow the Letter"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
"Leave"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Omni Theater in Atlanta, United States on November 18, 19, or 21, 1995
"Departure"
Recorded live at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, United States on June 6 or 7, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Nathan December – guitar
  • Mike Mills – fuzz bass, backing vocals, Farfisa organ
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Bittersweet Me"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, United States on November 7, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Scott McCaughey – piano
  • Mike Mills – bass guitar, organ, Mellotron
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Be Mine"
Recorded at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle, United States
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – bass guitar
  • Mike Mills – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Binky the Doormat"
Recorded live at the Desert Sky Pavilion in Phoenix, United States on November 4, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums, backing vocals
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Nathan December – guitar
  • Scott McCaughey – Farfisa organ
  • Mike Mills – fuzz bass, backing vocals, keyboards
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Zither"
Recorded in the dressing room of The Spectrum in Philadelphia, United States on October 12, 13, or 14, 1995
  • Bill Berry – bass guitar
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Nathan December – tambourine
  • Scott McCaughey – autoharp
  • Mike Mills – organ
  • Michael Stipe – count in
"So Fast, So Numb"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, United States on November 15, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Scott McCaughey – piano
  • Mike Mills – bass guitar, backing vocals, organ
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Low Desert"
Recorded at a soundcheck at the Omni Theater in Atlanta, United States on November 18, 19, or 21, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – guitar
  • Nathan December – slide guitar
  • Scott McCaughey – piano
  • Mike Mills – bass guitar, organ
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
"Electrolite"
Recorded at a soundcheck the Desert Sky Pavillion in Phoenix, United States on November 4, 1995
  • Bill Berry – drums
  • Peter Buck – banjo
  • Andy Carlson – violin
  • Nathan December – guiro
  • Mike Mills – piano
  • Michael Stipe – vocals
Technical crew
  • William Field – assistant engineering, Athens
  • Sam Hofstedt – assistant engineering, Seattle
  • Victor Janacua – assistant engineering, Los Angeles
  • Adam Kasper – recording engineering, Seattle
  • John Keane – recording and mixing
  • Scott Litt – mixing
  • Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering – mastering
  • Pat McCarthy – recording, Los Angeles
  • Mark "Microwave" Mytrowitz – technical assistance
  • Joe O'Herlihy – tour recording engineer
  • Jo Ravitch – tour recording engineer
  • Eric Stolz – digital editing
  • Jeff Wooding – tour recording engineer

Chart performance[edit]

While New Adventures in Hi-Fi began the band's sales decline in the United States, it topped the charts in over 10 countries and reached #1 on the Top European Albums for 5 consecutive weeks.[13] The album peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and spent 22 weeks on chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it has sold 994,000 units in their homeland as of March 2007.[14][15][16] The first single "E-Bow the Letter" received only modest radio airplay in the U.S. and peaked at #49 on the U.S. charts.[17] In the UK, however, the single became the band's biggest hit at that point, reaching #4.

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Austria (IFPI Austria)[42] Platinum 50,000x
Canada (Music Canada)[43] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Germany (BVMI)[44] Gold 250,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[45] Gold 25,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[46] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[47] Gold 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[48] Gold 25,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[49] Platinum 350,000[50]
United States (RIAA)[51] Platinum 994,000[16]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[52] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Like all R.E.M. albums since 1988's Green, New Adventures in Hi-Fi was released in a special edition packaging containing a 64-page hardcover book designed by Chris Bilheimer, featuring photos from the Monster tour. In 2005, Warner Brothers Records issued an expanded two-disc edition of the album which includes a CD, a DVD-Audio disc containing several new audio mixes of the album (5.1-channel surround sound, high resolution, AC3, Dolby Stereo, and DTS 5.1) done by Elliot Scheiner, and the original CD booklet with expanded liner notes. In addition, the DVD includes a video documentary, lyrics, and a photo gallery.

Region Date Label Format Catalog
Worldwide September 9, 1996 (1996-09-09) Warner Bros. Compact Disc, cassette tape, double LP 46320
United States September 10, 1996 (1996-09-10) Warner Bros. Compact Disc 46321
Worldwide March 1, 2005 (2005-03-01) Warner Bros. Compact Disc and DVD-Audio 73950

References[edit]

  1. ^ McDonough, Jimmy. Shakey — Neil Young Biography. p. 399. 
  2. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "allmusic (((New Adventures in Hi-Fi > Overview)))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  3. ^ "New Adventures in Hi-Fi by R.E.M.". [dead link]
  4. ^ Browne, David (September 13, 1996). "Ain't That America?". ew.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  5. ^ Hilburn, Robert (September 28, 1996). "**** R.E.M. "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," Warner Bros.". articles.latimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  6. ^ Strauss, Neil (September 11, 1996). "For R.E.M., Adventures On the Run". nytimes.com (The New York Times). Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: R.E.M.". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  8. ^ Kemp, Mark (September 19, 1996). "New Adventures in Hi-Fi". rollingstone.com. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  9. ^ Cooper, Colin (June 1, 2004). "New Adventures in Hi-Fi – On Second Thought — Stylus Magazine". Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  10. ^ Melody Maker, September 30, 1996
  11. ^ Magnet Tenth Anniversary issue, January 2003
  12. ^ The "Ennio Whistle" is the two-note main theme melody of Ennio Morricone's score for Sergio Leone's 1966 spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  13. ^ Billboard – October 19, 1996. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  14. ^ "New Adventures in Hi-Fi on Billboard.com". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-03-13. [dead link]
  15. ^ a b "allmusic (((New Adventures in Hi-Fi > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums)))". Retrieved 2005-08-07. 
  16. ^ a b Gunderson, Edna (March 7, 2007). "R.E.M.: A 25-year rockin' role.". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-03-10. 
  17. ^ "allmusic (((New Adventures in Hi-Fi > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))". Retrieved 2005-08-07. 
  18. ^ "australian-charts.com R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  19. ^ "R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi – austriancharts.at" (in German). Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  20. ^ "ultratop.be — R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". ultratop.be/nl, Hung Medien (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  21. ^ "ultratop.be — R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". ultratop.be/fr,, Hung Medien (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  22. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2012-02-04
  23. ^ Billboard – October 12, 1996. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
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  25. ^ "finnishcharts.com R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  26. ^ "lescharts.com R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". lescharts.com (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  27. ^ "Album Search: R.E.M." (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  28. ^ a b Billboard – September 28, 1996. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  29. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1996" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 
  30. ^ R.E.M.-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック "Highest position and charting weeks of New Adventures in Hi-Fi by R.E.M.". oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 2011-09-18. 
  31. ^ "charts.org.nz — R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  32. ^ "norwegiancharts.com R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  33. ^ Billboard – October 5, 1996. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
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  36. ^ "Chart Stats — REM — New Adventures in Hi-Fi". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  37. ^ "Austriancharts.at — Jahreshitparade 1993". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  38. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Albums of 1996". RPM. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  39. ^ "Hitparade.ch — Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1996". Swiss Music Charts. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  40. ^ "UNITED KINGDOM (CIN) BEST ALBUMS OF 1996". Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  41. ^ "Billboard.BIZ – Year-end Charts – Billboard 200 – 1996". billboard.biz. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  42. ^ "Austrian album certifications – R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter R.E.M. in the field Interpret. Enter New Adventures in Hi-Fi in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  43. ^ "Canadian album certifications – R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". Music Canada. 
  44. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (R.E.M.; 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  45. ^ "Norwegian album certifications – R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  46. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959-2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados > 1995-1999". Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 8480486392. 
  47. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  48. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (R.E.M.; 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi')". Hung Medien. 
  49. ^ "British album certifications – R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter New Adventures in Hi-Fi in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  50. ^ "UK best albums 1996". Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  51. ^ "American album certifications – R.E.M. – New Adventures in Hi-Fi". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  52. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1996". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2012-03-05. 

External links[edit]