In recognition of Murmur’s 25th anniversary, Universal will release a special Murmur Deluxe Edition on Tuesday, November 25th. The two-CD set features the original twelve-song disc, remastered, as well a sixteen-track live disc taken from R.E.M.’s long-venerated, previously-unreleased 1983 performance at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto. (For more information on how you can order a copy, please click HERE).


In what follows, R.E.M. HQ’s Kevin O’Neil, who worked closely with Universal as the band’s product manager on the Murmur Deluxe Edition, offers an insider’s perspective on the process of compiling the deluxe edition which Pitchfork.com recently rated a rare 10 out of 10:

This Tuesday, November 25th will celebrate the release of the Murmur Deluxe Edition, marking 25 years since Rolling Stone honored Murmur as “Album of the Year.” To coincide with this, Universal Music will be releasing a remastered two-disc version of Murmur as part of the Deluxe Edition series. The Deluxe Edition is comprised of classic records re-released in a two-disc format. Previous releases include Elvis Costello and U2, so we are certainly in good company. The first disc in the release is Murmur as it was intended: twelve remastered songs as they originally appeared in 1983–no extra bits and pieces and no fluff. The second disc features the perfect companion piece to a great studio album: a live club show recorded only months after the record was released.

We were excited to work with Universal and appreciative of their efforts to give Murmur the treatment it deserves. From R.E.M.’s standpoint, the very first step and most important thing we could do was to get Mitch Easter and Don Dixon involved. As producer and engineer, they were essential to the process of shaping Murmur, and we wanted their ideas, opinions and ears to help present the Deluxe Edition as well. And according to Don and Mitch, the obvious and only choice for remastering was Greg Calbi, who mastered the original Murmur. With this sound team in place we knew we were in good hands… I mean ears. But that’s only half the team, as once a great record is finished a whole lot of people work very hard to make sure that record is heard on the radio and stocked on the store shelves (remember this was 1983). In the case of the original Murmur, of course those people were the staff at I.R.S. Records. We were grateful for the help of former I.R.S. employees Michael Plen, Jay Boberg, Carlos Grasso and Sig Sigworth, whose assistance, ideas and recollections were essential to the success of this release. You can hear their stories in their own words on the liner notes of the package.

With Murmur holding such a special place in R.E.M.’s discography, we approached it with two goals in mind: we wanted to maintain the integrity of the original album, and we wanted to make the second disc something of true value, not just added content for the sake of more content. With that in mind, it was important to us that Murmur appear on a disc by itself, as it was originally intended and released. As much as I enjoy b-sides, alternate takes and demo versions of great songs, it would have been a disservice to the record to clutter a cleanly sequenced album with distracting extras. For the second disc, we wanted to offer something we had not released before, but had a cohesive quality which would compliment Murmur, rather than crowding it. Everyone agreed that a live show was the perfect fit. The show we picked is a well-loved recording at a club called Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto. It was originally recorded for a radio broadcast in July, 1983, just after the release of Murmur. Nearly all the songs from Murmur are included in the show, as well as song from albums which had not yet appeared on a record. According to diehard fans, this show is not to be missed and has since become one of the most bootlegged and blogged about performances of the band’s early career. Given the fact that the performance has been remastered from the original tapes, you’ll get to hear an R.E.M. show like it hasn’t been heard in 25 years.

Mojo Magazine calls Murmur one of the “100 records that changed the world,” and I’m not one to argue with a good review.

The Murmur Deluxe Edition will be in stores Tuesday, November 25th, and if you’re in the Athens area, don’t forget the Murmur release party at the 40 Watt, “Perfect Circle–Athens Bands Play Murmur.”

-Kevin O’Neil