Tuesday 2 August 2016

#57 REM - Passaic, NJ. June 9, 1984 (Flac)

This superb REM soundboard was first posted on analog loyalists blog - the power of independent trucking.
Because of issues with storage providers (take a bow Mediafire) and also ongoing problems with takedown notices it was unavailable. Easily one of the best bootlegs of last year, 2015. (A massive upgrade from previously existing versions) I am making it available here on the blog. I will let analog loyalist take over now with his original notes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Passaic, New Jersey

 9 June 1984

Soudboard - analogloyalist master

"Ask me what my favorite live era is for R.E.M. and depending on the day (and my mood) it'll vacillate between their 1984 (Little America) and 1985 (Reconstruction) tours.  On the one hand, in 1984 they are, at the base, still the garage band of their pre-I.R.S. days playing garage punk folk.  On the other, in 1985 what they lose of that garage sense is made up for by increased mysticism and atmosphere.

I'm not sure if Peter Buck changed his rig between tours, but the 1984 sets feature that signature jangle crunch, perhaps at its finest, while 1985 saw Buck's tone gain a fair bit of range (it sounds like he discovered chorus pedals, that is).  The difference is there, though - any of the band's pre-Fables material, when played on the Reconstruction tour, does sound markedly different in terms of guitar sonics. So depending on my mood and mental place I'll either reach for an '84 soundboard, or one of the many '85 gigs.

Of late I've been studiously evaluating my catalog of '84 soundboard recordings.  I guess one would place, from a pure sonic perspective, the July 7, 1984 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago (Brawlroom as we lovingly/hatingly referred to it, my relationship with that venue tends more to the hate side than love, but that's a story for another day) - as released on the Reckoning Deluxe Edition - at the top of the heap, with the others ranked against it as the baseline.

While there are rarer sets than today's feature, or more interesting from a setlist or performance perspective, there are - in my humble opinion - no greater-sounding sets than the band's one-off (for MTV) gig June 9, 1984 at the Capital Theatre, Passaic, New Jersey.
This set was a one-off arranged for MTV, for their "Rock Influences: Folk Rock" episode.  As such, and the band still relatively tight from having recently come off an European tour, the band wasn't as sloppily loose as sets from this era could be.  

It's obvious that the band is intent on delivering a knockout punch, both for the TV audience and for the assorted celebs/heroes that were in attendance, because the last three songs (not included here, as they were not broadcast/on the master reels) featured various Byrds and others guesting.  It's a wonderfully tight, smooth, well-executed gig by an amazing rock band.

So as not to be completely professional, the band chose this spotlight to debut not one, but three new tracks: "Hyena", "Old Man Kensey" and "Driver 8".  Except "Hyena" which is - moreso than the others - clearly a work-in-progress, the new tracks sound as if they could have been in the set for years.

I'm not sure the provenance of the tape/source used for this post, as I've had it in my collection on CD-R for years, but it's certainly not a recording of the TV broadcast, and not an after-the-fact radio rebroadcast either.  I would bet a hundred Bucks (Peter) that this is copied from the actual master or a first-generation dub of it.  There's no hallmarks of FM or TV lineage, it's got full frequency range up to 22.5 kHz (FM cuts off at ~17kHz, and TV even lower), and it doesn't have that classic FM compression feel to it.  It also is thankfully lacking in that high-frequency "smearing" (usually audible in the cymbals) characteristic of FM broadcast.  

Nearly all the other circulating soundboard sets of '84 R.E.M. are ultimately broadcast-sourced, or Nth-generation tape dubs of pre-broadcast radio show LPs (such as the Seattle "The Source" gig), and come nowhere close to sounding as good as this.

How does this Passaic set compare to the Chicago set used on the Reckoning Deluxe Edition?  I think it's of a piece with it - while I disagree with the mastering on the Chicago set, I have no quibbles with the performance or overall sound.  I would just rather listen to this gig than the Chicago set.

I spent a fair bit of time touching up this Passaic set to the point that the band could lift this set from this blog and release it tomorrow, and nobody would know it was mastered by some dork in his bedroom office.  It's *that* good.  You can put that (put that put that) on your wall.

I don't care if you've grabbed this gig in the past from any other place on the Intarwebs, this version here is the definitive version.  I place my reputation on it."

9 June 1984
Capital Theatre, Passaic, New Jersey

For MTV's "Rock Influences: Folk Rock" episode
mastered February 2012 by Analog Loyalist
Soundboard reel -> ? -> FLAC -> analogloyalist mastering -> you

01. ...intro...
02. Pale Blue Eyes
03. Second Guessing
04. Hyena *
05. Letter Never Sent
06. Harborcoat
07. Seven Chinese Brothers
08. Pretty Persuasion
09. So. Central Rain
10. Gardening At Night
11. 9-9
12. Windout
13. Old Man Kensey *
14. Sitting Still
15. Driver 8 *
16. Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars)
17. Radio Free Europe
18. Little America
-- So You Want To Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star (w/Roger McGuinn)**
-- Do You Believe In Magic (w/John Sebastian) **
-- Gloria (w/Roger McGuinn) **

* - live debut.
** - not broadcast, and not included here. (I've never seen these on any soundboard set from this gig; it appears only an audience recording captured them.)



  1. Thank you for making this available again :) I really only know them from their overplayed radio hits, but listening to an early live recording seems to be the best way to make yourself acquainted with a band.

    Onward to more glorious musical adventures!

    1. can u tell me how this is "available again"?; I can't find a download link on this page.

  2. Agreed about radio hits. REM to most people is Losing My Religion onwards but that's because of lazy radio and tv programming.
    Mind you the early 80's is a long way off now. I remember when Stipe had long hair!
    If you like the live recording check out those eighties albums from Murmur to Green.

  3. Many thanks. I find REM boots are a treat--whatever era they're from.

  4. I'm sure you will enjoy this one, a later era boot will appear in the future.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I saw it on your "best of the year" post, searched, but could not find it anywhere. It is very good. Your efforts are appreciated.

  6. really super ....many thanks indeed

  7. Thanks so much for this. It was the first time I saw R.E.M., though I missed "Pale Blue Eyes" because my girlfriend and I were arguing.

  8. Must have been a great show to see and an appropriate song to argue over see the lyric below!

    "Sometimes I feel so happy,Sometimes I feel so sad
    Sometimes I feel so happy,But mostly you just make me mad
    Baby, you just make me mad."

  9. Outstanding - thank you so much!

  10. Has anyone come upon an REM show from Minneapolis in 1985? It ended with Paint It Black with Bob Mould. Would love to hear it after all these years.

  11. Great, great blog. My ears and myself have been dancing for a while.

  12. I was at this show REM being the soundtrack to my youth along with Husker Du et al. We had to sit which I didn't like, could not stand seeing the old men jamming, the show was kind of a "SIXTIES LEGENDS w/a band that likes these old men called rem or something" thing, where the audience all turned out for REM and snoozed through lengthy buzz killing sets by some of the Byrds. Rolling Stone reviewed the show and raved about how some of the Byrds blew RFEM off the stage -- not the show I saw.

  13. This recording sounds great! Is there any way you could master some of the Replacements live shows too? ....please


  14. Good idea but you would need to go on to the analog loyalist's blog The Power Of Independent Trucking and ask him. (This was his work) It might shock him into action unfortunately after the New Order debacle he not surprisingly has lost interest in his blog.

  15. Thank you mightily.

  16. Is there away to have this bootleg somehow? I don't find any link to download the files. Is there any chance for a re-up? Thanks

    1. Some links are available with the Bootlegs of the Year document. It's an unmentioned bonus for donors. I got a copy recently and there was a whole pile of links sent as well.

  17. To William who complained 'How is this available again? That post was written in 2016, eight years later I've made it available again (for the third time) in June 2024, enjoy.