Hear R.E.M.'s Unearthed 'Shiny Happy People' Demo Recording

In anticipation of the 25th anniversary reissue of R.E.M.’s blockbuster seventh album, Out of Time, the band has released some of that album’s unheard demo recordings. After unveiling the demo for “Losing My Religion” last month, it has now released an early cut of that song’s follow-up single, “Shiny Happy People,” via the Wall Street Journal

Musically, the instrumental demo doesn’t stray far from the studio version, but removes the finished version’s orchestral intro in favor of a more stripped-down sound. The demo is rootsy and looser than the eventual single that would have Kate Pierson’s swooping vocals echoing Michael Stipe’s.

R.E.M. recorded Out of Time in 1990 at John Keane Studio in Athens, Georgia. The songs written and recorded in those sessions guided the band’s pop/rock stylings from Automatic for the People into a more folk tradition, which can be heard on this early instrumental cut.

A special reissue of Out of Time (out November 18th) will include the original 11-song album, 19 demos and outtakes. R.E.M. fans will especially appreciate a recording of a live show from Mountain Stage in West Virginia in 1991, one of the few shows recorded around the release of the album. 

R.E.M. also revealed a new cover for the deluxe edition of the record, which removes the signature yellow “blob” from the original cover. “I wanted a dramatic change in the artwork to indicate the difference between this release and the original,” Stipe said in a statement. “It will look beautiful on a shelf.”