Reckoning “confirms R.E.M. as one of the most beautifully exciting groups on the planet.” wrote NME in 1984. R.E.M.’s second full-length album also prompted The Washington Post to proclaim that “there isn’t an American band worth following more than R.E.M.” Twenty-five years later, Reckoning remains a fan favorite for capturing R.E.M. during the youthful freshness of a new, fiercely independent American music scene.
The two-CD Reckoning – Deluxe Edition (I.R.S./A&M/UMe), set for release June 23, 2009 features the original album remastered plus a bonus disc of a previously unreleased concert recorded during the band’s Little America tour at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on July 7, 1984 and broadcast on WXRT. In addition, Reckoning and R.E.M’s 1983 debut album Murmur will be simultaneously reissued on audiophile quality 180 gram vinyl in their complete original packaging.
On the Deluxe Edition’s bonus disc, the group not only performs eight of Reckoning’s ten songs, “Gardening At Night” from 1982’s Chronic Town EP and “Radio Free Europe,” “9-9” and “Sitting Still” from Murmur but also new songs that had yet to make it onto tape: “Driver 8” would later debut on R.E.M.’s third album and “Hyena” on its fourth.
Inclusion of the live concert is particularly appropriate for Reckoning – Deluxe Edition. Whereas Murmur had been complex and painstakingly deliberate, the band’s Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, along with producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, saw Reckoning as a “chance to turn up the volume, tear up the rule book, and capture instead R.E.M.’s on-stage mojo,” according to the Deluxe Edition liner notes by author Tony Fletcher. Even as Stipe lyrically delved into darker subject matter and the album included the band’s first true ballads–the melancholic “Time After Time (Annelise)” and “Camera”–other tracks revealed a band steeped in the immediacy of playing gigs in a college town, from the pulsating “7 Chinese Bros.,” hard-rocking “Little America” and anthemic “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” to the melodically evocative “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry),” “Letter Never Sent” and “Pretty Persuasion.”
Reckoning peaked on the charts at #27, nine spots higher than Murmur (Rolling Stone’s 1983 Album of the Year) and was eventually certified gold. R.E.M. would go on to score #1-charting quadruple platinum albums and win worldwide adoration. In 2007, in its first year of eligibility, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.