R.E.M.'s 2007 "working rehearsals" in Ireland for its latest studio album, 2008's "Accelerate," are the subject of the group's new live album, "R.E.M. Live at the Olympia," which comes out Oct. 27.
The two-disc set was recorded during July 2007 at the Olympia club in Dublin, where the group played five shows while in the midst of recording "Accelerate" with producer Jacknife Lee, who also helmed the "Olympia" set. It's R.E.M.'s second concert souvenir in three years, following 2007's "R.E.M. Live."
Bassist-keyboardist Mike Mills told Billboard.com that the Olympia stand "did the things we wanted it to do in terms of not only generating excitement for the record, but it also helped us, I think, to make a better record." R.E.M. had already gone into "Accelerate" with a desire to make a more rocking, live-on-the-floor kind of album than its more labored-over predecessors, "Up" and "Around the Sun." The live dates, Mills said, were a test for the new songs.
"So often when you make a record you haven't played the songs live," he explained, "and then you start taking them out on tour and they get faster or you change parts and think, 'Man, I wish we had done [i]that[/i] on the album. I didn't want to have that this time. I wanted to play them live so we could get all that out of way and really know what we wanted to do with the songs in the studio."
Guitarist Peter Buck concurred that the Olympia shows "really helped us focus on what the record was all about. It was really nice to play the songs in a kind of adrenalized setting in front of people. It helped to show us that, 'Yeah, we're on the right path' and then we did go back in the studio and re-record a couple things and clean a couple of other things up. And there was one song in particular we played and figured out that, 'Eh, we don't need to have that on the record.' "
"Olympia" features pre-release versions of "Accelerate" tracks such as "Living Well is the Best Revenge," "Mr. Richards," "Man-Sized Wreath," "Horse to Water," "I'm Gonna DJ" and the title track, as well as "Supernatural Superstitious" under its original title, "Disguise," and two songs -- "Staring Down The Barrel Of The Middle Distance" and "On the Fly" -- that ultimately didn't make the album. The set also includes as R.E.M. rarities such as "Second Guessing," "Disturbance at the Heron House," West of the Fields" and "Wolves Lover."