Digital Music, Milestones — April 12, 2013 at 8:39 am

R.E.M.’s ‘Murmur’ turns 30 today — hear a dozen demos of tracks off classic album

R.E.M., 'Murmur'

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)




  1. Zeno Sieler

    …gunna have to spin this today, man, 30 years…still got my ‘diamond’ shaped patch from the 84′ Little America tour, and the King Biscuit Flour Hour 7″ of Catapult live from the recording of the show…where, just before they break into Michael say’s ‘turn around’…he wanted to see the back of me shirt…53 years old never felt so good…in my head.

  2. These are great, and make me sad that they were not the bonus material on the recent re-release of the album. For $29 you got a poorly remastered album with a bonus disc containing a commonly traded live show. Oh, and a few post cards.

  3. I first heard songs from Murmur being played by a cover band at UVM. Just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and that was my introduction to REM. Blew me away!

  4. caroline cremin

    Thanks for creating a sound track to my early yrs, which have made me who i am today, such an important role music has on our being…

  5. One of greatest debut albums ever

  6. This one still blows me away every time.
    One of the most important albums of my life.

  7. Even though this album is acknowledged among music circles for the beautiful work that it is, I feel it needs to be acknowledged on a much bigger scale – as one of the most important pieces of musical work of modern times. Perfect Circle is breathtaking in it’s beauty. On a debut album, no less.

  8. Jan-Kees Verschuure

    Romance is great, both here and on Eponymous. The Stephen Hague version of Catapult could’ve even been a hit back then

  9. Rob-in-Brevard

    The video you have listed as “Pilgrimage – Chronic Town rehearsal” is NOT the band R.E.M.

    Caveat emptor!

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