April 2018
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A continuing series of events that make me feel old. REM’s ‘Automatic For The People’ is 25 years old this year. From memory, it was one of those rare albums that got a rush release, on a Thursday or something, because the record company knew that if it came out in the US three or four days before it came out in the UK, people would buy import copies in that tiny window and, for whatever reason, they didn’t want us to do that.

I remember those early reviews. There was one by Allan Jones in Melody Maker which mentioned that opinion in the office had been divided, that some people couldn’t hear any tunes on it. And there was an immaculate review by David Cavanagh in Uncut which said that ‘Everybody Hurts’ was an amazing gift from Stipe. I agree then. I agree now.

I’ve not listened to it in years. But I listened to it in the car last week, and it’s great.

It’s also 25 years old, and it’s ripe for re-packaging.

When ‘Out of Time’ was re-released last year, I gave it a miss. I’d bought all the other REM re-releases, but the deluxe version of this was asking for silly money. When it came down to around £20 after 6 months, I bought it. I’m glad I waited – I don’t think it was worth £40.

And now? AFTP? The double CD edition is £20. That’s reasonable. The deluxe package, which includes a big old book, an extra CD and a blu-ray? That’s £80.

I won’t mention how much it is to get the package that includes a blanket and a tote bag.

I get it. It’s an album that means a lot to people. Even back in the (Warners) day, REM were happy to release deluxe editions of their albums with some nice packaging for more money, and I went along with those.

But there’s no way I’m paying £60 extra for another CD, a blu-ray and a book. Until that price becomes more reasonable, here’s a reminder why it’s still a great album.

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