On Thursday, it marked 25 years since R.E.M. released their landmark Automatic For The People record. Now, ahead of a deluxe reissue of the record, the group have a shared a long-lost demo from the album’s recording sessions.
When R.E.M. released Automatic For The People on October 5th, 1992, few knew the level of fame and influence the record would yield. Eventually spawning six singles, including ‘Man On The Moon’, ‘Everybody Hurts’, and ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’, the record would go on to sell over 18 million copies. So understandably, the group are treating the record’s anniversary as a rather big deal.
Releasing a deluxe edition of the record next month containing demos, live cuts, and remastered versions of the album’s tracks, R.E.M. have today shared a version of the track ‘Devil Rides Backwards’, as Consequence Of Sound reports. Considered almost mythical amongst dedicated fans of the group, this is the first official release of the tune by R.E.M.
Originally created under the name ‘The Devil Rides Backwards On A Horse Called Maybe’, the unfinished track sees references to a mule instead of the titular horse in its lyrics. “That was a mistake,” frontman Michael Stipe explained in the liner notes. “It’s supposed to be a horse. I think that phrase might have been something that Peter [Buck] pulled from literature. He thought it had a nice ring to it.”
“That was the one that I most wanted to have on the record,” guitarist Peter Buck added. “I really loved that song. Michael just didn’t feel that he had it and he likes to work by inspiration. But I remember I was in New Orleans and I played a cassette of a lot of rough mixes to a bunch of people. Five years later they’d go, ‘Gosh, whatever happened to that ‘Devil Rides Backwards’ song?’ It got pretty close but it was never finished. So it’s on this.”
While R.E.M. broke up back in 2011 after 31 years together, the band have still been active in terms of reissuing their previous studio albums in deluxe editions. Automatic For The People marked the mid-way point of the group’s discography, released as their eighth album, with their fifteenth record, Collapse Into Now, being released only a few months before their breakup.
Check out the demo version of ‘Devil Rides Backwards’ below.