Green (R.E.M. album)

Green is the sixth studio album by American rock band R.E.M., released on November 7, 1988, by Warner Bros. Records. The second album to be produced by the band and Scott Litt, it continued to explore political issues both in its lyrics and packaging. The band experimented on the album, writing major-key rock songs and incorporating new instruments into their sound including the mandolin, as well as switching their original instruments on other songs.

A golden yellow background with dark green impressions of leaves on it and the words "GREEN" and "R.E.M." written on top in black
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 7, 1988 (1988-11-07)
RecordedMay–September 1988
LabelWarner Bros.
R.E.M. chronology
Out of Time
Singles from Green
  1. "Orange Crush"
    Released: December 1988
  2. "Stand"
    Released: January 1989
  3. "Pop Song 89"
    Released: May 1989
  4. "Get Up"
    Released: September 1989
Green promo cover
A crimson cover with rough-hewn texture that has "GREEN" and "R.E.M." debossed on it in black
Promotional copies of Green came in a cloth case with a debossed cover. The dark colors and texture were meant to go with the album's message of environmentalism.

Upon its release, Green was a critical and commercial success. To promote Green, the band embarked on an 11-month world tour and released four singles from the album: "Orange Crush", "Stand", "Pop Song 89", and "Get Up".

Background and recordingEdit

With the release of Document in 1987, R.E.M. fulfilled its contract with I.R.S. Records. Frustrated that its records did not see satisfactory overseas distribution, in early 1988 the band told I.R.S. head Jay Boberg that it was leaving the label.[3] Guitarist Peter Buck also explained that his group felt it was being pressured to sell well by I.R.S., yet felt I.R.S.'s distributor MCA Records did not consider the ensemble a priority.[4] R.E.M.'s management then approached any record companies that expressed interest in the band.[5] Though other labels offered more money, R.E.M. ultimately signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records—reportedly between $6 million and $12 million—due to the company's assurance of total creative freedom.[6] In light of its move to a major label, the band became defensive in interviews against accusations from some fans who claimed it was selling out.[7]

R.E.M. began the album process by recording demos at Robbie Collins' Underground Sound Recording Studio in Athens, Georgia in February 1988. Bill Berry, Peter Buck and Mike Mills recorded the basic tracks in two configurations: (1) drums, guitar, and bass, and (2) percussion, mandolin, and accordion. The demos were mixed by Robbie Collins, Buren Fowler (guitar tech for Peter Buck and later member of Drivin N Cryin), and David LaBruyere (later bassist for Vic Varney, Michelle Malone, and John Mayer) and presented to R.E.M. management. Michael Stipe used these recordings for his vocal arrangements. Some of these demos, including "Title," "Great Big," "Larry Graham" and "The Last R.E.M. Song," have never been commercially released. The demo "Larry Graham" was named for Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham, who was famous for his slap-bass style. "Larry Graham" has many similarities musically with Out of Time opener "Radio Song." "Title" was an older song which had been demoed for Document the prior year and performed often on the Work Tour. "Title" is the only unreleased song from these demo sessions known to have recorded vocals.

Just one month after signing with Warner Bros., the band recorded the basic tracks for Green at Ardent Studios Studio A in Memphis, Tennessee from May 24 through July 5, 1988, with Scott Litt producing. Recording and mixing resumed later that month at Bearsville Sound Studios in Bearsville, New York. Three unreleased songs were recorded in Bearsville, including "Carnival" and two untitled songs. "The Wrong Child" was recorded and mixed under the working title "Mozart." The Bearsville sessions continued until September 3, 1988—barely two months before Green's release.


Guitarist Peter Buck interviewed in December 1988, shortly after the release of Green

Green marks the departure of the jangle pop and college rock styling of the band's previous albums.[1] In a 1988 interview, Peter Buck described Green as an album that didn't feature any typical R.E.M. songs. Describing the band's standard output as "Minor key, mid-tempo, enigmatic, semi-folk-rock-balladish things", the guitarist noted that for Green, "We wrote major key rock songs and switched instruments."[8] Singer Michael Stipe had reportedly told his bandmates to "not write any more R.E.M.-type songs". Bassist Mike Mills argued that Green was an experimental record, resulting in an album that was "haphazard, a little scattershot". Band biographer David Buckley wrote, "[S]onically, Green is all over the place, the result being a fascinatingly eclectic album rather than a unified artistic move forward".[2] In a RTÉ review of the 25th anniversary edition of the album, R.E.M. stated the album was full of "big dumb bubblegum pop songs."[1]

Green was envisioned as an album where one side would feature electric songs and the other, acoustic material, with the plan failing to come to fruition due to a lack of acoustic songs deemed fit for release. David Buckley highlighted three main musical strands on Green: "ironic pop songs" like "Stand" and "Pop Song 89", harder-hitting tracks such as "Orange Crush" and "Turn You Inside-Out", and "pastoral acoustic numbers" that had Peter Buck playing mandolin, with track 11 singled out as an anomaly. Buck had become fond of playing acoustic music with his friends in that period, and thus purchased an "oddly-shaped Italian mandolin-cum-lyre" in 1987; he would play the instrument on three of the tracks on Green. From this period onward, R.E.M. would swap instruments among members, and on Green the group also incorporated accordion, cello, and lap steel guitar.[9]

Artwork and packagingEdit

The cover art was painted by New York City minimalist line painter Jon McCafferty. Promotional copies of the album were housed in a mauve, cloth-covered Digipack, with the title and artist debossed and a number "4" embossed over both of the "R"s. The color and texture are made to imitate tree bark.

The original pressings of the album and cassette tape covers had the number 4 spot varnished over the R in both "Green" and "R.E.M." In return, "R. Stand" appears instead of "4. Stand" on the track list on the back cover. Allegedly, this was a product of an early typing mistake: due to "4" being a number very close to "R" on the keyboard, "Green" was once misspelled "G4een", and the mistake was adopted this way. The album was the first by the band to feature printed lyrics, although only the lyrics to "World Leader Pretend" appeared.

Green is the first R.E.M. album to also be released in a special edition version, though it was only released as a promotional CD. R.E.M. would go on to create a special edition version of each subsequent album they released, with the exception of their final studio album, 2011's Collapse into Now.

Release and receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [10]
Chicago Tribune    [11]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[12]
Los Angeles Times    [13]
Q     [16]
Rolling Stone     [17]
The Village VoiceB+[19]

Green was released on November 7, 1988, in the United Kingdom, and the following day in the United States. R.E.M. chose the American release date to coincide with the 1988 presidential election, and used its increased profile during the period to criticize Republican candidate George H. W. Bush while praising Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis.[20] With warm critical reaction and the conversion of many new fans, Green ultimately went double-platinum in the US, reaching number 12, and peaked at number 27 in the UK. "Orange Crush" became R.E.M.'s first American number one single on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock Tracks charts. It was the band's first gold album in the UK, making it the quartet's European breakthrough. "What I love about it is the immensely unlikely lyrics," remarked Neil Hannon, frontman of The Divine Comedy, "and, in the mandolin on 'You Are The Everything' and 'The Wrong Child', it's got a bit of what comes later but in a much purer way. It's so small and intense, it's amazing."[21] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau praised the first half of the album, calling it "rousing, funny, serious, elegiac" while panning the second half for "dubious poetry and heavy tempos."[19]

Some advance promo cassettes of the album, dating from September 1988, contained alternate mixes of "World Leader Pretend" (with different intro), "Turn You Inside-Out" (with different ending), and the untitled eleventh track (different drum mix). All of these mixes are otherwise unreleased.

The band would tour extensively in support of the album throughout 1989, before beginning work on 1991's Out of Time. Green has gone on to sell four million copies worldwide.[22]

R.E.M. supported the album with its biggest and most visually developed tour to date, featuring back-projections and art films playing on the stage.[23] The tour was much larger in scope than the "Work" tour that supported the previous album. This was especially true in venues outside of the United States due to Warner Bros. Records' ability to market the band overseas. On the final night of the 11-month trek to support Green, at the Fox Theater, in Atlanta, GA, the band performed their first full-length album, Murmur, in order, from start to finish, followed by Green, in order, from start to finish. The night was concluded by an encore set performed by Microwave & the Melons—the road crew led by guitar tech Mark "Microwave" Mytrowitz. It marked the only live performance of "The Wrong Child," and one of the few live performances of "Hairshirt." After the Green tour, the band members unofficially decided to take the following year off, the first extended break in the group's career.[24]

Some songs from Green—such as "Pop Song 89" and "Orange Crush"—had appeared occasionally on the "Work" tour in 1987. Though the lyrics were embryonic, the melodies and arrangements were similar to those that appeared on the finished record. Similarly, the band began playing versions of "Low" and "Belong" in the later part of the Green Tour, both of which would appear on their next album Out of Time.

Portions of the tour would be filmed for the band's first live video album Tourfilm.

The album was remastered in 2013 for its 25th anniversary, adding the bonus live album Live in Greensboro 1989 by Rhino Records; was released on May 14.[25] Additionally, the EP Live in Greensboro EP was released on April 20 as a promotion for Record Store Day.

Nirvana singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain listed it in his top 50 albums of all time.[26] In 1989, Sounds ranked the album at number 62 in its list of "The Top 80 Albums from the '80s."[27] In 1993, The Times ranked the album at number 70 in their list of "The 100 Best Albums of All Time."[28] In 2013, NME ranked it at number 274 in its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[27]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Michael Stipe.

Side one – "Air side"

  1. "Pop Song 89" – 3:04
  2. "Get Up" – 2:39
  3. "You Are the Everything" – 3:41
  4. "Stand" – 3:10
  5. "World Leader Pretend" – 4:17
  6. "The Wrong Child" – 3:36

Side two – "Metal side"

  1. "Orange Crush" – 3:51
  2. "Turn You Inside-Out" – 4:16
  3. "Hairshirt" – 3:55
  4. "I Remember California" – 4:59
  5. Untitled – 3:10

25th anniversary disc two – Live in Greensboro, 1989

  1. "Stand" – 3:01
  2. "The One I Love" – 3:18
  3. "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" (digital download bonus track) – 3:39
  4. "Turn You Inside Out" – 4:09
  5. "Belong" – 4:09
  6. "Exhuming McCarthy" – 3:14
  7. "Good Advices" – 3:11
  8. "Orange Crush" – 3:41
  9. "Feeling Gravitys [sic] Pull" (digital download bonus track) – 6:18
  10. "Cuyahoga" – 4:11
  11. "These Days" – 3:36
  12. "World Leader Pretend" – 4:13
  13. "I Believe" – 4:14
  14. "I Remember California" (digital download bonus track) – 5:23
  15. "Get Up" – 2:34
  16. "Life and How to Live It" – 4:23
  17. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" – 4:32
  18. "Pop Song 89" – 3:10
  19. "Fall on Me" – 2:56
  20. "You Are the Everything" – 4:29
  21. "Begin the Begin" – 3:38
  22. "King of Birds" (digital download bonus track) – 5:09
  23. "Strange" (digital download bonus track) – 2:44
  24. "Low" – 5:19
  25. "Finest Worksong" – 3:43
  26. "Perfect Circle" – 4:08

Record Store Day 2013 Exclusive – Live in Greensboro EP

  1. "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" – 3:39
  2. "Feeling Gravitys [sic] Pull" – 6:18
  3. "Strange" – 2:44
  4. "King of Birds" – 5:09
  5. "I Remember California" – 5:23


  • The digital download versions of the 25th anniversary edition include all tracks from the Greensboro concert. The five additional songs are inserted in the track list as performed in the original concert.
  • On the vinyl release, R.E.M. labeled side one (tracks 1–6) as the "Air side" and side two (tracks 7–11) as the "Metal side."
  • Track 4 ("Stand") is listed on the album as track "R".
  • Track 11, unlisted on the back cover and unnamed on the disc, is copyrighted under the title "11".[29] It is listed on the digital download version of the 25th anniversary edition as simply "Untitled". An extended instrumental version released as a B-side on certain editions of "Stand" is titled "(The Eleventh Untitled Song)".



Additional musicians


  • Bill Berry – production
  • Peter Buck – production
  • Thom Cadley – engineering (Bearsville)
  • Jem Cohen – photography
  • George Cowan – engineering (Bearsville)
  • Jay Healy – engineering
  • Tom Laune – engineering (Ardent)
  • Scott Litt – production, engineering
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering, at Masterdisk, New York City, New York, United States
  • Jon McCafferty – packaging and photography
  • Mike Mills – production
  • Frank Olinsky and Manhattan Design – packaging
  • Michael Stipe – production, packaging, and photography
  • Michael Tighe – photography

Chart positionsEdit


Year Song Chart Position
1988 "Orange Crush" Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1[37]
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 1[37]
"Pop Song 89" Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 16[37]
"Stand" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 1[37]
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1[37]
1989 "Pop Song 89" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 14[37]
Billboard Hot 100 86[37]
"Stand" 6[37]
"Turn You Inside-Out" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 7[37]
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 10[37]
"Stand" UK Singles Chart 51[38]
"Orange Crush" 28[38]
"Stand" (re-release) 48[38]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[39] 2× Platinum 200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[40] Gold 7,500^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[41] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[43] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release historyEdit

In 2005, Warner Bros. Records issued an expanded two-disc edition of Green which includes a CD, a DVD-Audio disc containing a 5.1-channel surround sound mix by Elliot Scheiner, lyrics, and the original CD booklet with expanded liner notes.


Region Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom November 7, 1988 Warner Bros. vinyl LP WX 234
Compact Disc 7599-25795-2
United States November 8, 1988 Warner Bros. LP 1-25795
Compact Disc 2-25795
cassette tape 4-25795
Canada November 8, 1988 Warner Music Canada LP 1-25795
Compact Disc 2-25795
cassette tape 4-25795
Germany November 11, 1988 Warner Music Germany Compact Disc 7599-25795-2
Japan December 10, 1988 Warner Music Japan Compact Disc 25P2-2389
Argentina 1988 Warner Bros. LP WEA 80127
Brazil 1988 Warner Bros. LP 6708035
Greece 1988 Warner Bros. LP 925795-1
Israel 1988 Warner Bros. LP BAN 925773-1
Mexico 1988 Warner Bros. LP LXWB-6813
Peru 1988 Warner Bros. cassette tape cn-wbr-0257945-4
South Africa 1988 Warner Bros./Tusk LP WBC 1654
Compact Disc WBCD 1654
Australia 1995 Warner Bros. Compact Disc 9257952
United States 2005 Warner Bros. Compact Disc/DVD-Audio DualDisc 73948
United States May 14, 2013 Warner Bros. Compact Disc 8122796570††


  • †† 25th anniversary edition, with bonus disc

Box sets

Region Date Label Format Catalog Notes
Australia 1995 Warner Bros. Compact Disc box set 9362460742 Packaged with Out of Time
Argentina 1998 Warner Bros. Compact Disc box set 9362 47180-2 Packaged with New Adventures in Hi-Fi, entitled "Doble Dosis"
France 1998 WEA Compact Disc box set WE 872 Packaged with New Adventures in Hi-Fi


  1. ^ a b c Corr, Alan (June 2, 2013). "Review: R.E.M. Green 25th anniversary edition". RTÉ. Retrieved May 29, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Buckley, p. 179
  3. ^ Buckley, pp. 173–174
  4. ^ Buckley, p. 176
  5. ^ Buckley, p. 175
  6. ^ Buckley, p. 177. Here, Jay Boberg claimed that R.E.M.'s deal with Warner Bros. was for $22 million, which Peter Buck disputed as "definitely wrong".
  7. ^ Buckley, p. 178
  8. ^ Halbersberg, Elianne (November 30, 1988). "Peter Buck of R.E.M.". East Coast Rocker.
  9. ^ Buckley, pp. 179–180
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Green – R.E.M." AllMusic. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Kot, Greg (March 24, 1991). "Traveling Through The Years With R.E.M." Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Browne, David (March 22, 1991). "An R.E.M. discography". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Boehm, Mike (November 6, 1988). "R.E.M. Falters, Doesn't Fall". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  14. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (November 12, 1988). "All American Aliens". NME. p. 39.
  15. ^ Deusner, Stephen M. (May 14, 2013). "R.E.M.: Green: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  16. ^ Gill, Andy (December 1988). "Positive". Q. No. 27. p. 135. Archived from the original on April 21, 2001. Retrieved August 6, 2022.
  17. ^ Azerrad, Michael (January 12, 1989). "The greening of R.E.M." Rolling Stone. No. 543. pp. 63–64. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Scoppa, Bud (May 23, 2013). "R.E.M – Green 25th Anniversary Edition". Uncut. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 27, 1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  20. ^ Black, pp. 155–156
  21. ^ Thornton, Anthony (November 1998). "Neil Hannon's Record Collection". Q. No. 146. p. 67.
  22. ^ Fletcher, p. 296
  23. ^ Buckley, p. 184
  24. ^ Buckley, p. 198
  25. ^ "R.E.M. Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Green". USA Today. Gannett Company. 2013-03-06. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  26. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  27. ^ a b "Acclaimed Music – Green". Archived from the original on 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  28. ^[dead link]
  29. ^ 11 (Legal Title). BMI Repertoire. Retrieved on July 2, 2011.
  30. ^ " – R.E.M. – Green". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  31. ^ " – R.E.M. – Green". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  32. ^ "R.E.M. | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  33. ^ "R.E.M. Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  34. ^ " – R.E.M. – Green" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  35. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1989". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  36. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1989". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 24, 2015. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j R.E.M. – Green: Charts and Awards — Billboard Singles. Allmusic. Retrieved on September 3, 2011.
  38. ^ a b c Buckley, pp. 357–358
  39. ^ "Canadian album certifications – R.E.M. – Green". Music Canada. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  40. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – R.E.M. – Green". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  41. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (PDF) (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. p. 958. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  42. ^ "British album certifications – R.E.M. – Green". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  43. ^ "American album certifications – R.E.M. – Green". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved January 31, 2020.

Works cited

  • Black, Johnny. Reveal: The Story of R.E.M. Backbeat, 2004. ISBN 0-87930-776-5
  • Buckley, David. R.E.M.: Fiction: An Alternative Biography. Virgin, 2002. ISBN 1-85227-927-3
  • Fletcher, Tony. Remarks Remade: The Story of R.E.M. Omnibus, 2002. ISBN 0-7119-9113-8.
  • Platt, John (editor). The R.E.M. Companion: Two Decades of Commentary. Schirmer, 1998. ISBN 0-02-864935-4

External linksEdit