R.E.M. premieres previously unreleased track “Devil Rides Backwards” from 25th Anniv. Edition of “Automatic for the People”

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary reissue of the landmark album Automatic For The People, rock icons R.E.M. are premiering the never-before-heard demo of the oft-mused-about track “Devil Rides Backwards.” The song appears on the reissued album’s deluxe edition, as well as the digital release, and is available today for download with all pre-orders as well as via streaming services; share/listen HERE and preorder the album HERE.

As explained in the Deluxe Edition’s expanded liner notes:

“The album’s great lost track—talked about by fans the world over down the years, but never previously heard—is ‘The Devil Rides Backwards On A Horse Called Maybe.’ Although unfinished, its inclusion here is a tantalizing glimpse into what might have been an AFTP highlight. Except that in this demo, the horse is a mule.

“‘That was a mistake,’ laughs Stipe. ‘It’s supposed to be a horse. I think that phrase might have been something that Peter pulled from literature. He thought it had a nice ring to it.’

“Indeed, Buck always regretted that the singer never completed the lyric. ‘That was the one that I most wanted to have on the record,’ he says now. ‘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.’”

Due November 10 via Craft Recordings, the remastered album will be available in a variety of formats, the most extensive of which is the Deluxe Edition three CD + Blu-ray, which will feature the album in its entirety mixed in Dolby Atmos. A short trailer with members of the band may be viewed and shared HERE.

More About #Automatic25

For this special 25th anniversary reissue, the full album (plus bonus track “Photograph,” featuring Natalie Merchant) was remixed in Dolby Atmos by Automatic’s original producer, Scott Litt, and engineer, Clif Norrell. This technology delivers a leap forward from surround sound with expansive, flowing audio that immerses the listener far beyond what stereo can offer. It transports the listener inside the recording studio with multi-dimensional audio—evoking a time when listening to music was an active, transformative experience, and reigniting the emotion you felt when you first heard the album in 1992. R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People is the first album to be commercially released in this expressive, breathtaking format.

In addition, the 4-disc Deluxe Edition will offer a wealth of previously unreleased material. The band selected 20 never-before-heard demos from the LP’s sessions, including the fully-realized, unreleased track “Mike’s Pop Song” as well as “Devil Rides Backwards.” “Mike’s Pop Song” is available to stream/share HERE and is also available as a download with album pre-orders.

Also included in both the 2-disc 25th Anniversary and Deluxe Edition of the album—which was remastered from the original analog tapes by Stephen Marcussen—is a full live set, Live At The 40 Watt Club 11/19/92. Performed in R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens, GA, it was the band’s only live show that year.

Housed in a 12” x 12” lift-top box, the Deluxe Anniversary Edition features a 60-page book, offering never-before-seen photos by Anton Corbijn and Melodie McDaniel, plus expanded, new liner notes by Scottish music journalist Tom Doyle who conducted new interviews with all four band members. Also included is a companion Blu-ray, offering the Dolby Atmos mix, plus a high-resolution master of Automatic For The People, seven music videos and the original 1992 EPK video. Automatic For The People will also be reissued on 180-gram vinyl (with digital download card), and will be available across all digital and streaming outlets.

Widely regarded as one of the best rock albums of all time, Automatic For The People, R.E.M.’s eighth studio outing, was recorded in session locations ranging from New Orleans to Seattle, and Athens, GA to Miami. Rolling Stone has ranked Automatic For The People on their list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Notable contributions to the record come from Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones who provided string arrangements on select tracks. After its release in 1992 the record reached #1 on UK charts and #2 in the US, selling over eighteen million copies worldwide. It also received 1994 Grammy nominations for Album of the Year and Best Alternative Music Album with major singles “Man on the Moon” and “Everybody Hurts” garnering Grammy nods as well.

Michael Stipe has since reflected that the album concerns topics of “mortality and dying,” but he further notes, “Mortality is a theme that writers have chosen to work with throughout time. It speaks of the fragility and beauty of life and living life to the fullest in the present moment. It happens all too quickly and we all know that.” Mike Mills asserts, “I think it’s our most cohesive record…It’s the strongest from first to last.”

Following the success of their multiplatinum Out of Time in 1991, the band’s reputation was skyrocketing with critics and fans alike. However, R.E.M.’s decision not to tour behind it, and with no plan to tour its successor, the band chose to push further into unexplored sonic territory. The recording was thus characterized by experimentation and playfulness in the studio resulting in a largely acoustic sound full of eerie and ambiguous commentary on the nature of mainstream fame they’d recently found. To this day, songs like “Everybody Hurts,” “Drive,” “Nightswimming” and “Man on the Moon,” as well as lesser known but sublime songs like “Try Not To Breathe” and “Monty Got a Raw Deal,” still resonate throughout the collective music and pop culture.

Formed in 1980, the legendary group went on to win multiple Grammys and produce 15 studio albums, plus many others including greatest hits and live documents. Noted for both their profound contributions to the alternative rock genre and their status as one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time, the band’s three-decade long career remains a legacy of music that defined an era and a model for musicians paving their own career path. R.E.M. (comprised of Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe) was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 before disbanding amicably in 2011.




Disc 1 – Automatic For The People

1.     Drive

2.     Try Not to Breathe

3.     The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

4.     Everybody Hurts

5.     New Orleans Instrumental No. 1

6.     Sweetness Follows

7.     Monty Got A Raw Deal

8.     Ignoreland

9.     Star Me Kitten

10.   Man on the Moon

11.   Nightswimming

12.   Find the River

Disc 2 – Live At The 40 Watt Club  

1.     Drive

2.     Monty Got A Raw Deal

3.     Everybody Hurts

4.     Man On The Moon

5.     Losing My Religion

6.     Country Feedback

7.     Begin The Begin

8.     Fall On Me

9.     Me In Honey

10.   Finest Worksong

11.   Love Is All Around

12.   Funtime

13.   Radio Free Europe

Disc 3 – Automatic For The People Demos  

1.     Drive (demo)

2.     Wake Her Up (demo)

3.     Mike’s Pop Song (demo)

4.     C to D Slide 13 (demo)

5.     Cello Scud (demo)

6.     10K Minimal (demo)

7.     Peter’s New Song (demo)

8.     Eastern 983111 (demo)

9.     Bill’s Acoustic (demo)

10.   Arabic Feedback (demo)

11.   Howler Monkey (demo)

12.   Pakiderm (demo)

13.   Afterthought (demo)

14.   Bazouki Song (demo)

15.   Photograph (demo)

16.   Michael’s Organ (demo)

17.   Pete’s Acoustic Idea (demo)

18.   6-8 Passion & Voc (demo)

19.   Hey Love [Mike voc] (demo)

20.   Devil Rides Backwards (demo)

Disc 4 – Automatic For The People Blu-Ray

1.     Automatic For The People (+ bonus track: Photograph) mixed in Dolby Atmos

2.     Automatic For The People (+ bonus track: Photograph) Hi-Resolution Audio

3.     Drive  (music video)

4.     The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite (music video)

5.     Everybody Hurts (music video)

6.     Man On The Moon (music video)

7.     Nightswimming (music video: British version)

8.     Find The River (music video)

9.     Nightswimming (music video: R version)
10.     Automatic Press Kit

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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