Box Sets — August 13, 2013 at 6:38 am

Peter Buck: R.E.M. may release fan club singles ‘in a big box set for charity one day’

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:







  1. I loved those Christmas cool you did that..I still listen to them when I can, I miss how fun it was to be that young and around when you guys were figuring it all out!

  2. These releases got less weird and adventurous as the years went on, but were still an amazing gesture by The Best Band Ever to its fans. There were a lot of gems in here, too! Their cover of Chris Isaak was just perfect.

    • Agreed, lotus. (I feel like I’ve said that before!) The “Academy Fight Song” 45 was a fave here. Another great cover of theirs and came with a cool poster, too, that hung in my dorm. And ten bucks a year–every year?! Man, they treated us well.

      Wonder what price Peter has in mind. Am definitely interested. And some trivia for YOU this time: Peter & I share the same birthday and birthplace (Berkeley), and am guessing the same hospital, too! Different years, though. :)

      p.s. 28th Day “The Complete Recordings” arrived today. Merci!

  3. Ha! Good stuff about the birthday!

    Re: 28th Day: I think another reason that album is special for me is they were one of the first “college” shows I ever saw. They played the local armory — I don’t think they even had a stage, they just set up at one end of the room! Having grown up on “Enormo-dome” shows (Cheap Trick, Van Halen, etc.), it was quite a revelation to just walk up and stand five feet from the band. It’s still one of the my favorite shows ever!

    And of course the songs are great.

  4. re: ‘Academy Fight Song,’ dare I say REM’s version was better than the original? 8-O

    They were playing that song some nights on the Green tour, and there’s a good live version from that April 1989 Orlando show that was heavily bootlegged (which you probably already have, now that I think about it….)

    • Agreed that their cover IS better–and the original is ACE! Great stuff all the way around.

      Haven’t spun 28th Day yet, but am anxious to–even more so now.

      And Cheap Trick?!!! PLEASE TELL!!! My first fave band and have been loyal ever since I got “At Budokan” on my 10th birthday in ’79. Thirty-three years later, I met the band and they signed it! Total dream-come-true moment, right up there with meeting Paul Westerberg. And to connect all of this back to R.E.M., my wife and I saw them at their Budokan show in ’04 (fourth-row seats, thanks to the fan club!!!), and Michael mentioned “At Budokan,” saying how it was a fave of his and Mike’s and “a great fucking record!” which got some of the loudest cheers out of me. :) (Later I saw Cheap Trick’s At Budokan 30th Anniversary show and that was another pinch-me-I’m-dreaming experience, especially seeing so many of the original fans who were there back in ’78!)

      Will get back to you at here or elsewhere about 28th Day, for sure. Cheers, man!

      • “get back to you here,” that is! :)

      • Cheap Trick were my second concert ever, in 1979 I believe, as the Budokan album was taking over the world. Good memories! I’ve had opportunities to see them in the years since but have always whiffed — lame me. Although they’re going to be here in a couple of weeks to play both ‘At Budokan’ and the Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ in their entirety, so I really should go!

        • Are you in WA?! You should go!

          And, yes, that Orlando show is a great one. The “Songs for a Green World” CD is a nice recording of it. Weird that it seems to have a circa “Fables” photo as the cover, but, hey, can’t complain!

  5. Anybody heard anything about Michael Stipe recording anything? Man I miss the voice.

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