After rolling out a deluxe 25th anniversary edition of is multi-platinum Automatic For The People album, R.E.M. offers a new documentary, Automatic Unearthed, today (December 8) on YouTube.
The film chronicles the making of the group’s lauded eighth studio album, which has sold a reported 18 million copies worldwide and launched the singles “Drive,” “Man On The Moon,” “Everybody Hurts” and others.
The album’s slower, more atmospheric tone surprised some fans when Automatic… first came out, but bassist-keyboardist Mike Mills tells us the intent was always to make something different than R.E.M.’s previous seven efforts:
“We had no intention of making a contemplative record about mortality and passage, but when we went in one thing that we did have in mind was no R.E.M. songs — in other words, if we wrote a song that sounded too much like an R.E.M. song we dumped it…So when we tossed those away and kept the ones we thought were best we were kind of as surprised as anyone to see that they were a little slower, a little more acoustic-based than we thought we would end up with.”
The anniversary edition of Automatic… includes demos and outtakes as well as a live concert from the group’s home town of Athens, Ga.
R.E.M. split up in 2011 and has not reunited except for promotion for archival releases.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.