This limited edition version features a custom sleeve that measure 8 inches square, a 40 page full colour booklet which includes photography by Michael Stipe and full album lyrics.
REM have no right, at this advanced stage in their career, to be making such spirited and beautiful music as that on Reveal
. Twenty years after "Radio Free Europe", they're still jiggy as year-old pups. Reveal
is the sound of a band who have moved beyond feeling the need to change or to prove themselves to each new generation, but still want to make music that expresses a passion for life. Michael Stipe's voice has never been more evocatively beautiful than it is on "I've Been High", and Peter Buck's eclectic tunesmithery has continued in the highly accessible vein it was mining on their previous album, Up
. Those who yearn to hear the Stipe of old, mumbling incomprehensibly behind murky Byrds-u-like chords, will remain disappointed by his increasing emergence as an upfront vocalist whose lyrics, if never entirely self-explanatory, now make ingenious use of phrases, images and vignettes that anybody can identify with. Hovering over much of the album is the spirit of Brian Wilson
, whose melodic and harmonic genius is echoed in "Beachball" and almost transcended in the astonishingly plangent "Summer Turns to High". With so much to live up to from "Losing My Religion" to "Man On the Moon", it's not far short of astonishing that REM can still come up with a song like "Imitation of Life", whose gorgeously chiming and shimmering chorus sets the heart soaring and the eyes misting over. That song alone would be worth the price of admission but, fortunately, from the first synthesiser swirls of the album's opener, "The Lifting", there's not a dud to be heard in the entire dozen cuts. --Johnny Black