Assorted scribblings of a dog-eared music journalist

Melody Maker | Info Freako | 5 December 1992


Several years ago, Melody Maker claimed that a Michael Stipe solo album called "Field Recordings" was about to be released on the American Texas Hotel label. What the hell happened to it?

You’ve got a bloody good memory. Unfortunately, you'll also need a lot of patience with regard to the release of any Michael Stipe album. Although the R.E.M. HQ in Athens, Georgia, confirms that Stipe has recorded several solo tracks, they say there are no plans to put anything out just at the moment. If at all.

What's more, if a Stipe solo record is ever released, it's unlikely to be "Field Recordings". Despite numerous reports of this album in the music press over the last five years and the appearance of an advert for it in an American magazine, it's by no means clear that it actually exists. Stipe recently denied all knowledge of it.

"Field Recordings" was first talked about around the time of R.E.M.'s switch from IRS to Warner Brothers at the beginning of 1988. The band played live just once that year and, apart from the recording of the "Green" album, which materialised in November 1988, Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills all concentrated on extra-curricular activities. These did nothing to quash rumours of a rift in the ranks.

Stipe's outside work included singing with Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs on "Little April Showers", a track on the A&M "Stay Awake" Walt Disney tribute LP, and producing his sister Lynda's band, Hetch Hetchy. Their "Make Djibouti" album appeared on Michael Meister's Texas Hotel label. Stipe also introduced fellow Athenians The Chickasaw Mudd Puppies and Vic Chestnut to Texas Hotel and helped Meister out on a promo video for Henry Rollins' "What Am I Doing Here?".

It's a safe bet that the original idea for "Field Recordings" stemmed from the relationship Michael Stipe established with Texas Hotel and his obvious eagerness to work with a some fresh faces at this time. Whether or not it was more than just a notion will probably never be known.

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