The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC
by David Chiu
(Promo image: By Dr.Conati Roberto De Martino [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)
In a way, the 2-CD The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC, is kind of a de facto R.E.M.’s greatest hits collection because pretty much all of the band’s well-known songs and some deep cuts are represented here, albeit as both BBC session and live recordings spanning from 1984 to 2008. To its credit, this set doesn’t skimp on anything, even if it’s an abbreviated version of a super deluxe 8-CD/1-DVD collection. Every aspect of the band’s phase is represented: from the early gems like “Radio Free Europe,” “Fall on Me,” and “Driver 8”; to the breakthrough hits “The One I Love,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Losing My Religion”; to latter-day songs such as E-Bow the Letter” (this version here on the set features a duet with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke), “Bad Day” and “Electrolite.” There are unplugged versions of familiar songs such as the normally-rocking “Supernatural Superserious,” while a live version of “Drive” does the opposite by being re-casted as a rocker than the subdued version from Automatic for the People. The set also revives underrated songs from the post-Bill Berry era such as “Lotus” and “At My Most Beautiful,” “Imitation of Life.” Thankfully these BBC recordings have been preserved and are now available commercially for people to appreciate what a great performance band R.E.M. was.