Originally released in, you guessed it, 2003, In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003 is the second official compilation album released by R.E.M. It includes tracks from their Warner Bros. Records era, from 1988’s Green to 2001’s Reveal, as well as two new recordings and two songs from movie soundtracks. The album was the tenth-best-selling album of 2003 in the UK, and the 50th-best-selling album of the 2000s in the UK.
Re-issued in 2019 by Craft Recordings as a Barnes & Noble exclusive, and for the second time on vinyl, this edition features a gatefold sleeve and two 180g blue vinyl records.
The song “Bad Day” was a demo version in 1986, a Life’s Rich Pageant outtake when Bill Berry was still in the band, and was re-recorded for this compilation. “Animal” was a recent song written for their upcoming studio album. Similarly, “All the Right Friends”, originally written in the early 1980s, had been re-recorded by the band for use in Cameron Crowe’s 2001 film Vanilla Sky. Finally, “The Great Beyond” was initially issued in 1999 as part of Miloš Forman’s film on Andy Kaufman, Man on the Moon. It ended up becoming the band’s biggest UK hit, with a No. 3 peak, in early 2000. This, the third inclusion of the song on an official release, is the only unedited version. On the Man on the Moon soundtrack, there is some dialogue from the movie at the end of the track; the single version is a radio edit, with the bridge omitted.
In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003 was also issued in a limited two-disc edition that included a “Rarities and B-Sides” disc from the same era, with liner notes by Peter Buck. The single-disc edition of the album reached No. 1 in the UK, while going platinum in the U.S. and peaking at #8. The limited-edition two-disc release managed to reach No. 16 in the U.S. and No. 37 in the UK. There is also a vinyl edition which consists of two LPs inside a gatefold cover and a limited CD box-set edition featuring all eighteen tracks on their own individual one-track CDs, with cover art from the original singles.
A notable omission from the album is the song “Shiny Happy People” which was deliberately left out by the band despite it being one of their biggest hits. “Drive” was also left out in favor of “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” from Automatic for the People. “Bang and Blame” and “Bittersweet Me,” which were also hits, were left out for unknown reasons.
A companion DVD, entitled In View: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003, was released at the same time. In 2005, Warner Bros. Records issued an expanded two-disc edition of the compilation which included a CD, a DVD-Audio disc containing a 5.1-channel surround sound mix of the album done by Elliot Scheiner, and the original CD booklet with expanded liner notes. The “Rarities and B-Sides” bonus disc from the limited edition is not included in this re-release.
In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 is available for purchase from the Barnes & Noble online store here.