With so much news lately about the upcoming R.E.M. album it’s also nice to take a look back at the formative era of one of the icons of college rock — and the public radio program Studio 360 does that with a new piece on the inclusion of “Radio Free Europe” in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry and a special bonus concert from the early ’80s.
The band’s 1981 debut single was one of 25 works added to the registry this year; the seven-minute Studio 360 piece looks back at the track’s importance and impact. Of even more interest to fans, however, is a bonus 80-minute performance the show has posted on its website — although the date of the concert is being questioned by fans (both the “Radio Free Europe” piece and the concert can be streamed below).
Studio 360 bills the concert as “a real rarity… a cassette recording of R.E.M.’s first appearance, in 1980, at the club Tyrone’s O.C. in Athens, Georgia.” If that’s true, that would make it the band’s May 6, 1980, concert — the band’s fourth public performance, and second under the name R.E.M., according to the R.E.M. Timeline.
But fans note in the comments section on Studio 360’s site that some of the songs on the tape weren’t yet written in May 1980, and instead suggest that the setlist — featuring songs such as “Burning Down,” “Pretty Persuasion,” “All the Right Friends” and “Radio Free Europe” — actually matches the April 10, 1981, concert at Tyrone’s — a show that is in circulation as a known bootleg. Judge for yourself below.
Hear the ‘Radio Free Europe’ report and the 1981 concert after the jump…
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