For R.E.M., the beat goes on with 'Up'
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From Correspondent Mark Scheerer
NEW YORK (CNN) -- R.E.M. is maintaining the beat, even after the departure of drummer Bill Berry. The band has released another album, "Up," the first since Berry retired last fall.
Using guest drummers, tape loops, and 20-year-old drum machines, R.E.M. made the album, which lead singer Michael Stipe says is the band's best effort.
"I don't think that we made the next R.E.M. record or the one after that," Stipe says. "I think we actually leap-frogged over the next two records in terms or how far we pushed ourselves. What we got, I think, is something light years ahead of ourselves."
'Daysleeper' sounds familiar
The first single off the record is "Daysleeper," a mellow tune reminiscent of old-school R.E.M., says guitarist Mike Mills.
"It's the most traditional-sounding, R.E.M.-sounding song on the record, which is of course why the record company picked it," Mills says. "But it's kind of a shame because it's not at all indicative of the album."
Meanwhile, the band is contemplating their careers without Berry, who survived a near-death brain aneurysm in 1995, then left the band a year ago.
Bandmate Peter Buck says Berry's departure forced the band to consider their future together.
"If Bill had quit at the end of the last record, we probably wouldn't have gotten back together," Buck says.
'It's a strong work'
"He simply -- and courageously, I think -- said, 'I've done this and now I'm ready to do something else,'" Stipe says. "And he walked away from, I think, the greatest job in the world."
"He left, he's happy, and that's where I want him to be," says Mills.
Except for TV and benefit appearances like the Tibetan Freedom Concert, R.E.M. will not be touring behind this album.
Buck says the album will have to sell itself.
"If you look at the Top 10 or the Top 20, there's nothing like that in there," he says of "Up." "That said, it's a strong work. And I assume somebody's gonna buy it. Whether it's gonna be really easy to get on the radio, I don't know."
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