“I built my whole summer around this day,” I complained from the backseat as my younger brother, Chris, drove away from the parking lot of suburban Denver’s Waterworld, which had been closed for the day thanks to a fleeting thunderstorm and, by my count, about seven drops of rain. This was our second trip to Waterworld that had been drowned out by bad weather, which wasn’t helped by the fact that Denver had consistently been enjoying weather in the high 90s since about December.
“Hey Seth, where’s the closest record store?” I asked my friend in the front passenger seat, as if a few rare vinyls could replace a ride down Waterworld’s human toilet bowl. My fellow music enthusiast suggested Twist & Shout Records near downtown Denver, a shop he said would cure my water slide blues.
Although we were taunted by a Waterworld billboard (complete with a shining sun wearing Ray-Bans) on our way there, I had all but forgotten about the afternoon’s troubles by the time I arrived at the R.E.M. vinyl section. Much to my delight, Twist & Shout had somehow been the beneficiary of a hoard of promo singles from defunct Birmingham, Alabama Top 40 station WERC.
My favorite finds of the day were all three 12” singles released from R.E.M.’s 1986 album Lifes Rich Pageant, “Fall on Me,” “Superman” and “I Believe,” the latter of which I must admit I didn’t know existed. I wish the station’s call letters weren’t written in giant font across the front cover of each record, but I suppose I’m fortunate to have come across these rare records at all, especially at $2.99 apiece.
The “Fall on Me” radio single differs slightly from the more-common U.K. import – both feature an orange sleeve with white text and illustration, while the promo copy adds a picture of band members Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Bill Berry looking somewhat plaintive. The “Superman” single is adorned with a big baby on the front, while “I Believe” sports a beautiful white/dark purple color scheme and etchings of some indistinguishable creatures.
Much to my surprise, I was also able to find a couple of releases by two R.E.M. side projects. The first, Full Time Men’s 1985 12” EP Fast is My Name, features Buck on guitar and the Fleshtones’ Keith String on vocals, while the second, Hindu Love Gods’ “Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight/Narrator” 7” single from 1986, is essentially R.E.M. (minus Stipe) backing Warren Zevon. I knew I’d come across the latter eventually, but figured Fast is My Name had been limited to a thousand or so copies and never sold outside Georgia. A quick Google search revealed it’s a bit more common than I’d previously thought.
As part of my never-ending quest for new R.E.M. items, I also picked up the “Talk About the Passion” (printed on gray-green quiex vinyl) and “Ages of You” (on brown quiex) radio promos, a bootleg CD radio interview called “Shiny Chatty People” (a couple of mid-’80s interviews that were perfect for the five-hour drive back to my parents’ home in southern Colorado) and VHS copy of Out of Time promo film Timepiece.
I suspect my girlfriend will apply for me to be on Hoarders if I bring any more R.E.M. memorabilia into our apartment. Any leads on good storage sheds in the Twin Cities?