Hollywood, California —€œ September 27, 2012 —€œ Four acclaimed albums from R.E.M.’s 1980s I.R.S. Records tenure are making their high definition digital release debuts, exclusively on HD Tracks (HDtracks.com). Murmur and Document are both now available for download purchase in 192kHz/24bit and 96kHz/24bit digital resolution, and on October 2nd, Reckoning will debut in 192kHz/24bit and 96kHz/24bit digital resolution and Lifes Rich Pageant will be released in 44.1kHz/24bit digital resolution. The four albums have been digitally remastered in hi-def for the first time from their original analog masters: Murmur and Reckoning at Sterling Sound and Murmur and Lifes Rich Pageant by Robert Vosgien at Capitol Mastering.

HDtracks is a high-quality music download service offering a diverse catalog of music from around the world. HDtracks offers both AIFF and FLAC lossless files, and select titles are available in ultra-high resolution 96kHz/24bit files, providing audiophiles who demand the highest quality recordings with an online experience not available anywhere else.

Alternative rock did not begin with a bang but with a Murmur. In 1983, a band from Athens, Georgia made its full-length album debut. The band was R.E.M.; the album was Murmur, Rolling Stone’s Album of the Year and one of the first alternative rock albums to gain mainstream notice. Produced by Mitch Easter and Don Dixon in Charlotte, North Carolina and marked by singer Michael Stipe’s cryptic lyrics and equally cryptic vocal style, Peter Buck’s jangly guitar, Mike Mills’ moody bass, and Bill Berry’s R&B drumming, Murmur built on the inroads afforded Chronic Town by a handful of music critics and independent record stores, and fans mainly from the southeast. Refusing to indulge in rock clichés such as the guitar solo or the then-popular synthesizer, R.E.M. blazed its own path. Rolling Stone called the album “intelligent, enigmatic, deeply moving,” and Murmur cracked the Top 40, as did “Radio Free Europe” on the Mainstream Rock chart. But even greater acclaim would arrive in retrospect, including being listed in Entertainment Weekly’s “The 100 Greatest CDs Of All Time” and Mojo’s “The 100 Records That Changed The World.”

Whereas Murmur had been complex and painstakingly deliberate, R.E.M., along with producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, saw 1984’s Reckoning as a “chance to turn up the volume, tear up the rule book, and capture instead R.E.M.’s on-stage mojo,” according to author Tony Fletcher. Even as Stipe lyrically delved into darker subject matter and the album included the band’s first true ballads — the melancholic “Time After Time (Annelise)” and “Camera” — other tracks revealed a band steeped in the immediacy of playing gigs in a college town, from the pulsating “7 Chinese Bros.,” hard-rocking “Little America” and anthemic “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,” to the melodically evocative “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry),” “Letter Never Sent” and “Pretty Persuasion.” Reckoning “confirms R.E.M. as one of the most beautifully exciting groups on the planet,” wrote NME in 1984. The album peaked on the charts at #27, nine spots higher than Murmur and was eventually certified gold. Twenty-five years later, Reckoning remains a fan favorite for capturing R.E.M. during the youthful freshness of a new, fiercely independent American music scene.

R.E.M.’s fourth studio album, Lifes Rich Pageant was recorded by vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry at John Mellencamp’s Belmont Mall Studios in Indiana. Produced by Don Gehman, renowned for producing a string of punchy, soulful heartland-rock albums by Mellencamp, Pageant includes the singles “Fall On Me” and “Superman.” The album was R.E.M.’s first to achieve Gold certification status, and it reached #21 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart, the band’s then-highest chart position. With Lifes Rich Pageant, R.E.M. kicked open the door to a more extroverted future. As Anthony DeCurtis noted in his lead review in Rolling Stone, “Lifes Rich Pageant is the most outward-looking record R.E.M. has made, a worthy companion to the group’s bracing live shows and its earned status as a do-it-yourself and do-it-your-way model for young American bands… For R.E.M., the underground ends here.”

R.E.M.’s fifth studio album, Document, was recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium and released in 1987. R.E.M. had released four albums in the previous four years, each selling more than the last. With the release of Document, the band found itself at a crossroads of sorts —€œ all but ignored by conservative rock radio and MTV, yet reaching a broad and devoted international audience, sprung from independent media and college radio. The first of several R.E.M. albums to be co-produced by the band and Scott Litt, Document was also the group’s first to go platinum and includes the singles “Finest Worksong,” “Its The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” and “The One I Love,” R.E.M.’s first Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. In his 1987 review of the album, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke described Document as “the fifth in a series of singular state-of-our-union addresses by America’s most successful fringe band.” The album peaked at #10 in the U.S., spending 33 weeks on Billboard’s Top 200.

On September 25th, R.E.M. released an expanded 25th Anniversary Edition of Document. The new 2CD and digital edition features the remastered original album, plus a previously unreleased 1987 concert from R.E.M.’s “Work” tour. The commemorative release also adds new liner notes by journalist David Daley, with the 2CD package presented in a lift-top box with four postcards. The remastered original album has been reissued by Mobile Fidelity on 180-gram vinyl in faithfully replicated LP packaging.

R.E.M.’s early storytelling was both epic and familiar, with themes of loss and alienation, as expressed in “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)” and 1987’s Top 10 single “The One I Love,” meeting with the optimism and yearning of “Sitting Still” and “I Believe” in a marriage of ideals that was at once comforting and an awakening for all who discovered this new, transformative music emitting from the sleepy/sharp college town of Athens, Georgia. R.E.M. and other Athens bands forged a scene, which spawned a movement and ultimately led to a cultural sea change in music, launching R.E.M. and others onto the world’s stage to varying degrees of success and sustain. 1987’s “It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” was a tongue-twisting pop culture rally cry, beckoning to the tuned-out masses, listless casualties of 1980s economics, politics, and general ‘Me Generation’ malaise. By the end of R.E.M.’s run with I.R.S. Records, the band’s success had paved the way for a new generation of alt-rock and grunge acts, as Athens’ finest continued to lead the charge.

More information at HDtracks.com!