R.E.M. won't tour behind its new album Plus: The week's music releases
Credit: Anton Corbijn

The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer

When drummer Bill Berry quit rock & roll last year to devote himself to the more laid-back life of farming, R.E.M. was just starting rehearsals for “Up,” the group’s 13th album (in stores today). Singer Michael Stipe says the three remaining bandmates thought about quitting “for about three minutes,” then decided to bring in a few new drummers (including Beck’s Joey Waronker); they also experimented on a variety of instruments (Stipe on guitar, guitarist Peter Buck on bass, and bassist Mike Mills on keyboards). The result is “Up,” an uncharacteristically lo-fi album that Stipe hopes will cause fans to say, “I can’t believe this is R.E.M.”

Those fans will have to settle for just the record, however, because R.E.M. aren’t taking their show on the road. Aside from a concert taped last week at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom and airing tomorrow on MTV at 9 p.m. and an appearance on VH1’s “Storytellers” (Dec. 6), the trio won’t be touring in support of “Up.” Stipe and company have decided to let the album, the second in the band’s reported $80 million, five-disc deal with Warner Bros., sing its own praises.

Here are this week’s notable new releases (with EW critics’ grades):

  • R.E.M., “Up” (EW grade: A-)
  • Faith Evans, “Keep the Faith” (EW grade: A-)
  • Pras, “Ghetto Superstar” (EW grade: B-)
  • Bryan Adams, “On a Day Like Today” (EW Grade: B+)
  • Dru Hill, “Enter the Dru” (EW Grade: C+)
  • Phish, “The Story of the Ghost” (EW Grade: C)

The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer
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