Legendary Athens alternative rock forefathers R.E.M. are reissuing their first single, ‘Radio Free Europe’.
The original Hib-Tone single, which is the definitive version of the song and anyone who prefers the Murmur version is entitled to their opinion but is also blatantly wrong, was previously only available on the compilation Eponymous. For any R.E.M. super fan, this is essential buying.
The reissue will also feature a reproduction of the band’s first demo tape. Recorded in producer Mitch Easter’s parents’ garage, the session was the band’s first, and produced early versions of ‘Radio Free Europe’, ‘Sitting Still’, and ‘White Tornado’. The first two tracks were eventually re-recorded for the band’s debut studio album Murmur, while ‘White Tornado’ eventually found its way to the B-sides and rarities collection Dead Letter Office. The result was shipped off to labels, journalists, and just about anyone who the band might think would like it. Obviously original versions of this demo tape are incredibly rare, so a reproduction is a nice way to satiate die hard interest without breaking the bank.
The demo tape eventually made its way to Jonny Hibbert of the Atlanta indie label Hib-Tone. With a few overdubs and a fresh mix, 1,000 copies of the ‘Radio Free Europe’/’Sitting Still’ single were released. The story is pretty well known from there: local success, signing to I.R.S. records, underground success, signing to Warner Bros. records, global success, yada yada yada. I kid, actually, because R.E.M.’s story is legitimately one of the most interesting, wholesome, and ultimately affirming in the industry. A group of friends that managed to stay friends, create fantastic music, not bend to the will of popular trends or record company pressure, gain international success and acclaim, fight near death experiences off, and bow out with enough grace to put a cap on perhaps the greatest 30 year run in all of popular music. If you wanted to know where it all started, check out this reissue.
You can pre-order the ‘Radio Free Europe’ reissue bundle through the official R.E.M. store here. In the meantime, I’m going to spend the next 45 minutes listening to Eponymous, and I suggest you do the same.