R.E.M., circa mid-'80s

Members of R.E.M.’s fan club have begun receiving their annual Christmas single from the band, and this year’s disc features a surprise: an appearance by retired drummer Bill Berry on a cover of “Crazy Like a Fox,” a hippie protest song Lenny Kaye recorded in 1966 under the pseudonym Link Cromwell.

Although Berry has performed live with members of R.E.M. a number of times since quitting the band in 1997, this marks only the second time he’s recorded with the band, following a 2007 cover of John Lennon’s “#9 Dream” for the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur tribute album.

This time, though, it’s not quite a full reunion: While Berry (drums, tambourine and backing vocals) and Mike Mills (guitar, bass and lead vocals) play on the track, frontman Michael Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck are absent from the Christmas single entirely. (Producer John Keane also lends backing vocals on “Crazy Like a Fox.”)

The other track on the promo CD — the band stopped sending 7-inch vinyl following 1997′s single, with the exception of 2000′s installment — is a cover of the Christmas classic “Santa Baby” performed entirely by Mills.

For more information on R.E.M.’s fan club, click here.

See tracklist for R.E.M.’s Christmas single after the jump…

Tracklist: R.E.M., 2009 Christmas Single

1. “Santa Baby”
2. “Crazy Like a Fox”

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