On this day in music history: September 1, 1987 – “Document”, the fifth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by R.E.M. and Scott Litt, it is recorded at Sound Emporium in Nashville, TN and Master Control in Los Angeles, CA from April 30 – May 2, 1987. By 1987, R.E.M. have steadily climbed the ladder of success, going from a having a small but loyal following in the early 80’s, to scoring consecutive Gold albums with minimal airplay. Having worked with co-producer Don Gehman on their fourth album “Life’s Rich Pagent”, the band intend to work with him again on the follow up. Gehman is unable to work with them, when sessions on Mellencamp’s “The Lonesome Jubilee” drag on for nearly nine months. Instead, he suggests they work with recording engineer Scott Litt. R.E.M. and Litt establish an instant rapport, and marks the beginning of a successful working relationship that spans five albums. Several songs on the new album make commentary on the conservative political environment of the US, under Ronald Reagan’s presidency, on tracks like “Exhuming McCarthy” and “Welcome To The Occupation”. The Athens, GA band’s fifth release marks a major turning point in their career, providing them with their long awaited mainstream breakthrough. The release of “Document is led by the single “The One I Love” (#9 Pop),which becomes R.E.M’s first US top ten hit, and their highest charting single to date. It is followed by “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (#69 Pop), giving a verbal nod to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, with its vivid stream of conscious word play and imagery. The album spins off a third and final single with “Finest Worksong” in March of 1988. R.E.M. reaches a new plateau of chart success and record sales with “Document”, just as the band’s contract with I.R.S. Records is coming to an end. Unable to hold on to their biggest band, I.R.S. loses them to Warner Bros. Records, who offer R.E.M. a lucrative multi-album deal. “Document” is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, issued in a mini LP sleeve that replicates the original vinyl album release. The album is also remixed into Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound, and released as a DVD-A disc in 2003. The disc also includes the music videos for all three singles. In 2005, it is issued as a hybrid DualDisc featuring the original stereo mix and the DTS 5.1 surround mix, along with the aforementioned music videos. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary in 2012, “Document” is reissued as a double CD box set. Featuring the original eleven song album on disc one, the second disc features a live concert recorded at the Musikcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht, Holland on September 14, 1987. The album is most recently reissued as a limited edition (to 2,500 copies) 180 gram gold vinyl pressing on May 31, 2018. “Document” peaks at number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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