R.E.M. Document Production Notes

Production Notes

By all accounts there was a steely sense of purpose about R.E.M. throughout the making of Document. Soon after the release of Lifes Rich Pageant in 1986, the band were back in their demo studio in Athens, Georgia with engineer John Keane, working on new songs. 'Their usual method was for Peter, Mike and Bill to come in and record instrumental takes of musical ideas they had worked up in practice', Keane recalled to David Buckley in his book R.E.M. Fiction. 'It was not unusual for them to record 20 or 25 different pieces of music.'


Michael Stipe would then come in, often by himself, to hum potential topline melodies or lyrical ideas over them. 'Sometimes he would complete a full set of lyrics, only to scrap them and start over with a completely different approach', Keane added.

Scott Litt began work with the band in around March 1987, and they spent the whole of April recording the new album in Nashville, Tennessee at Sound Emporium Studios. By this point many of the group's songs had already been worked into live sets and given an extra flinty edge.

There was still further decoration to be added in a couple of places. Los Lobos' Steve Berlin added his distinctive saxophone skills to 'Fireplace', while lap steel guitar and dulcimer gracefully haunted 'King Of Birds'. Ultimately, though, the day was carried by a quartet in ebullient form. 'I remember being impressed by the intensity of their performance', Keane said later. 'Pete's guitar was becoming crankier and more distorted, and Bill was really punishing the drum kit. Meanwhile, Michael's vocal abilities had reached an amazing level.'