R.E.M. has been on my turntable a lot this week, courtesy of a couple of anniversary pieces for Diffuser.
So what better week to feature a couple of R.E.M. bootlegs from my stacks? Live and Alive is a German two volume set released during the band’s commercial peak in the early ’90s. Volume 1 probably captures a 1992 show at Athens, Georgia’s legendary 40 Watt, but I haven’t been able to verify that; regardless, it’s mostly a club recording. The crowd magically gets much bigger for “Perfect Circle,” so I think we can safely conclude that this comes from multiple sources. Volume 2 is clearly taken from a bigger show.
The sound quality is great, but what makes this particular bootleg interesting to me is the packaging. The “REM” you see on the covers of these CDs is embossed on the plastic jewel boxes, floating above the inserted cover art. Whether the Volume 1 cover was meant to evoke Madonna’s Like A Prayer is unclear, but it does. Perhaps the designers were playing off of the band’s success with “Losing My Religion.” All of the artwork — front, back, and disc — is clean and professional looking, which is rarely the case with bootlegs. At first glance one might think that he or she is picking up an official import rather than a boot.
These two discs are well worth your 12 bucks each if you can find them. Happy hunting.