Music: REM

The group's gone electronic. The singer's gone Hollywood. Is this the band's end? Nah, it's a new beginning

Michael Stipe isn't supposed to be here. He is a 41-year-old singer for a 21-year-old band: R.E.M. In rock-'n'-roll years, R.E.M. is 147 years old. Every member--Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, 44, and bassist Mike Mills, 42--is easily old enough to be Christina Aguilera's father.

Nonetheless, here are the boys of R.E.M.--Buck, Stipe and Mills--all lined up like talk-show guests in the offices of Warner Bros. Records. Stipe's bald, Buck's a little paunchy, and Mills has that unsettling Bob Costas thing going on where he appears both boyish and middle-aged. Great rock groups don't usually stick around for the gray hairs to...

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