- 14 Dec 17
80's Rock Saviours Are Sweeney's Men In Brilliant New Radio Documentary
Ken Sweeney travels to Georgia to hear how REM set out from their home town of Athens as evangelists for a new alternative music which returned to simple melody and jangling guitars. Featuring contributions from REM's Michael Stipe and Mike Mills, producers Joe Boyd and Mitch Easter, members of 10,000 Maniacs and Athens band Pylon, various REM road crew, long time REM associate and tour guide Paul Butchart, and REM manager Bertis Downs, Sweeney goes in behind classics from 'Radio Free Europe' to 'Nightswimming' to get the full ballistics on what made REM so special in the first place.
Downs himself has this to say about the production, ""REM: Out Of Athens really captures the time and the place. Well researched and always interesting, We'd like to thank Ken for coming all the way to Georgia to make it."
It's hard to credit now, but there was a time when the biggest bands in the world reached that elevated position through years of thankless road work, playing gigs and shaking hands, inspiring those who came after them. As Mike Mills tells Sweeney, "We didn't pave the way (for Nirvana), we just gave them a template, we showed that it could be done, and, if you hold through to your own selves, you can still become successful, you don't have to do what the man tells you to do."
Sweeney knows a bit about this road lark himself, having released albums and singles under the name 'Brian' in the 90s. He's a dab hand at this documentary jazz too, last year's In Search Of The Blue Nile received rave reviews, including nods from Peter Gabriel and Ryan Adams. That programme was dedicated to the late George Byrne, formerly of this parish. There is little doubt that George would approve of this one too.
REM: Out Of Athens airs on RTE Radio One at 2pm on Thursday 28th December, but Hot Press is (Shiny) Happy to share it with you People right here.