R.E.M.'s "All the Way to Reno" single was released in August 2001 to promote their album REVEAL. While it is a European import, R.E.M. collectors and dedicated fans should track it down as it is one of R.E.M's most interesting singles.
"All the Way to Reno" one of the most subtle and clever songs from REVEAL. The tale of a woman going to Reno for either an easy marriage or, more likely, an easy divorce, the song assures her that she's "gonna be a star." The song is catchy and radio-friendly and was a wise choice for a single. "Yellow River" is a rendition of a Jeff Christie track that, apparently, has Mike Mills doing the vocals. Mills' appearances on lead vocals are few and far between and "Yellow River" song makes the single quite unusual. "165 Hillchrest" is a Mills and Buck instrumental that sounds like a bit of winding-down in the studio. The closing track of the single is "Imitation of Live (Live from Trafalgar Square)". This version, from a concert against racism held in the heart of London, is incredibly disappointing. The song has been recorded and edited to sound like stadium-rock, and ruins the balance that the album version of the track had. For those who prefer R.E.M.'s quieter, more pensive side, this song is sheer torture.
Placing the single in a computer CD-ROM drive allows one to watch the concert footage of "Imitation of Life." (It is in late-Sorenson Quicktime format and works on Windows and MacOS, but not on Linux). Seeing the crowd of mostly young teenagers dancing to an overblown song is depressing, but Stipe's words against racism at the end of the performance are inspiring.
While R.E.M.'s singles are not essential for the casual fan, the "All the Way to Reno" deserves attention from R.E.M. collectors and dedicated fans for its instrumental and "Yellow River" with vocals from Mike Mills.