REM: The Last Straw

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Music
March 28th, 2003 • 12:18 am

Several prominent artists releasing tracks in reaction to the current war in Iraq. Beastie Boys, Me’Shell, John Mellencamp, Lenny Kravitz, Zack de la Rocha… Now REM, with “The Last Straw“.

First, I note that, unlike all others, the REM track is only available as a stream, not as a download. Their label is Warner Bros. Quelle surprise.

With my lowly modem connection peaking at 28.8 kbps, I try my best to listen… The page has two links, one for a Windows Media Player stream, another one for a QuickTime stream…

The QuickTime stream sounds better (voice “closer”, less muffled)… but it doesn’t work right! It drops after a few seconds, and QuickTime Player continues playing… silence.

I then try the Windows Media Player stream, with the Windows Media Player application for Mac OS X. It drops after a while too, because a 32 kbps stream is obviously too demanding for a 28.8 kbps… but at least it starts buffering right away again, and the music resumes after a few seconds… and I am at least able to listen to the song in full.

I’m sure that everybody’s situation is different, and that many people with broadband Internet access are probably able to listen to the QuickTime stream with no problems… But if my experience is any indication, Apple has some work to do, either on the server side of things or on the client side. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s product sounds crappy, but at least it works:

A picture named REM-WMPvsQT.gif

Same as usual.

Come back to earth, Apple.

As for the song, well, sounds rather pedestrian. But then I’ve never been able to get INTO REM.

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