R.E.M. circa 1989

Each year from 1988 to 2011, R.E.M. mailed a special holiday single to every dues-paying member of its fan club, a total of 24 singles that featured Christmas songs, covers, live tracks and originals, spread across 7-inch vinyl for the first 10 years, then alternating between CDs, DVDs, vinyl and even, in 1998, a split single with Radiohead on VHS tape.

That material long has been sought after by fans, and, naturally, bootlegged and traded online. Now, though, Peter Buck, the band’s former guitarist, tells the BBC (via Rolling Stone) that R.E.M. may release that treasure trove of miscellany, possibly as a box set that would benefit some untold charity.

Buck says:

“I just liked the idea. I was never in the Beatles fan club but … I really liked the fact you would get a weird thing in the mail every year. So every year, R.E.M. put out a record. It was all material that had never been released anywhere else.  … There were like 24 of them, which makes about 50 songs. We’ll put them in a big box set for charity one day.”

That run of singles featured a total of 54 songs, including a number of live cuts (with appearances by Neil Young and members of Radiohead and Wilco), covers of songs by the likes of Slade, Big Star, Badfinger, Chris Isaak, Flipper and Gloria Gaynor and even reunions with departed drummer Bill Berry, who performed on both the 2009 and 2010 fan-club singles.

For its final fan-club single in 2011, R.E.M. collected pair of live songs recorded on the band’s final tour: “Perfect Circle,” from a London show on Aug. 30, 2008, and “Life and How To Live It,” the penultimate song at R.E.M.’s final concert, on Nov. 18, 2008.

You can stream both below:







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