It’s a nearly unparalleled landmark in the history of ’80s college rock: R.E.M.’s peerless debut album, Murmur, was released on April 12, 1983 — exactly 30 years ago today. These days it’s almost a cliche, but the combination of Michael Stipe’s murky mumble, Peter Buck’s jangly guitar, Mike Mills’ bass and vocal melodies and Bill Berry’s snap drumming helped launch a genre — first winning over the underground, then conquering the mainstream.
Today we celebrate this milestone by looking back at the building blocks of the album we know and love. Below you’ll find a dozen demos, mixes and early versions of some of the songs that ultimately wound up on Murmur (and a couple bonus songs that were recorded around the same time but didn’t make the cut) — including the “Cassette Set” demos we’ve shared before.
So check ‘em out — and share your own memories of Murmur in the comments below.
R.E.M., “Radio Free Europe” (1981 original Mitch Easter cassette tape version)
R.E.M., “Radio Free Europe” (1981 Mitch Easter cassette tape radio dub mix version)
R.E.M., “Sitting Still” (1981 Mitch Easter cassette tape version)
R.E.M., “Catapult” (Stephen Hague 1982 demo)
R.E.M., “Sitting Still” (Alternate version/Murmur outtake)
R.E.M., “Talk About the Passion” (Early mix/Murmur outtake)
R.E.M., “Radio Free Europe” (Pre-HibTone Demo Tape Mix)
R.E.M., “Moral Kiosk” (Early mix/Murmur outtake)
R.E.M., “Pilgrimage” (Chronic Town rehearsal recording)
R.E.M., “Laughing,” “Romance,” “Shaking Through” (RCA demos February 1982)
R.E.M., “Catapult,” “Wolves, Lower” (RCA demos February 1982)
R.E.M., “Romance” (Murmur rough demo 1982)