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Dead Letter Office


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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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R.E.M. Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011

Biography

R.E.M. marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first single, "Radio Free Europe," was released in 1981, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the early '80s, R.E.M. brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon. Combining ringing guitar ... Read more in Amazon's R.E.M. Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: A&M
  • ASIN: B000001I0I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,888 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Crazy
2. There She Goes Again
3. Burning Down
4. Voice Of Harold
5. Burning Hell
6. White Tornado
7. Toys In the Attic
8. Windout
9. Ages Of You
10. Pale Blue Eyes
11. Rotary Ten
12. Bandwagon
13. Femme Fatale
14. Walters Theme
15. King Of The Road
16. Wolves, Lower
17. Gardening At Night
18. Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars)
19. 1,000,000
20. Stumble

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

While purists will insist on an undiluted copy of the band's 1982 Chronic Town EP, R.E.M. completists (and those who just like a lot of tracks for their money) will be grateful for the inclusion of 15 additional B-sides and curios on this 1987 compilation. Not surprisingly, the non-Chronic material is a mixed blessing: while R.E.M. were much beloved for being notorious cover-whores during those early Athens live shows, their reverent takes on Velvet Underground classics stand the test of time far better than their odes to Roger Miller and Aerosmith. But all that will be forgotten by the time Chronic Town's "Wolves, Lower" kicks in, signaling the official arrival of a band that forever changed the face of Southern rock. --Bill Forman

Customer Reviews

Such a great collection of covers and previously unreleased gems.
Kurk Schoner
Despite other's commentaries, I believe their renditions of Velvet Underground sounds aren't extraneous, but good interpretations that show their musical finesse.
"Rocky Raccoon"
I really enjoy this cd, and I think that any true fan of R.E.M. will.
Dubs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on July 12, 2002
Format: Audio CD
"Dead Letter Office" is a housecleaning effort from R.E.M.'s days on IRS records (1981-1987). As such it provides an interesting alternative view of the band. Several of the tracks reveal a goofy sense of humor that doesn't show itself on their "proper" albums. Two examples are "Voice of Harold," which features the backing track from "7 Chinese Brothers" as singer Michael Stipe reads a studio promotional flyer, and a cover of the Roger Miller country staple "King of the Road." The band acknowledges its considerable debt to the Velvet Underground by covering no less than three songs ("There She Goes Again," "Pale Blue Eyes" and "Femme Fatle") that are among the best performances here. Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic" even gets a workout. The CD includes the contents of the band's 1981 EP "Chronic Town" as a (very considerable) bonus.
Overall, rarities albums don't get much better than "Dead Letter Office."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1998
Format: Audio CD
This is, quite simply, my favorite REM CD for repeat listening. The only track I feel is even remotely substandard is the mangled rendition of "King of the Road", and even that track is pretty good listening compared to the filler most bands use to fill out an album. The inclusion of the Chronic Town EP as the last five tracks on the disc are an added listening bonus, as this album provides one of the longest-playing REM CD's I own, and I'm just as happy to start over again at the beginning immediately after listening to it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "riffcoda" on November 26, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This record is not for everyone. However, if you are like me and got into the band circa Green,you missed a lot of stuff! Like many, I went back and got all of the older albums I'd missed, yet my collection was still lacking. The Chronic Town EP had been out of print for years and tracking down the singles? HA! Anyone who was fortunate enough to glom onto one of these certainly wasn't letting it go. Not at a resonable price at least. Then I stumbled across this little gem. A virtual treasure trove of lost B-sides; drunken fun in the studio; covers that, many times, outshine the originals and they threw in Chronic Town to boot! No, not every song is solid gold, but this album isn't about "the hits", nor does it try to be. It's simply a compilation that showcases the many facets of a brilliant band growing, expanding, and trying new things, sometimes finding itself on the top of the mountain, sometimes tossed against the jagged rocks below, but always walking unafraid. But then again, maybe it's just a compilation of stuff you could never track down put together on on one CD, a smourgasborg of tasty treats offered up for your enjoyment from the fine folks at R.E.M. Either way, I'm diggin' it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lorel Shea VINE VOICE on August 1, 2009
Format: Audio CD
When most of my friends were sulking to Led Zeppelin, grooving to Kool and the Gang, or screaming along with the Dead Kennedys, I was listening to REM, Aztec Camera, INXS, and their ilk. Dead Letter Office is quintessential REM from the early years when it was a challenge to understand Michael Stipe's mumbles and the the music had a fresh, raw sound. Recently, I have been playing DLO in my car and reminiscing. The mix of covers and original material works well, and this album includes some of my favorite tunes. I love how REM does Toys in the Attic- it's a worthy tribute though it still maintains the REM feel. Femme Fatale is absolutely gorgeous- and no offense to Lou Reed, but I think Michael sings it better.

I saw REM in concert back when they were playing colleges, and this collection captures the energy, humor, and soul of the band perfectly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Reaper on September 14, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is worth buying for the Chronic Town EP alone. This is worth buying for Gardening at night alone. If you are a serious REM fan you should buy this. If not start at Automatic and work your way down, this is not for you. It has fun covers by The Velvet Underground, Pylon(the best), Aerosmith! and also Roger Miller. Then a bunch of stuff that you could only like if you love them soo. Drunken Jingles for restaurants and U2 flag waving attacks-Bandwagon. Voices of Harold 4. 7 Chinese Brothers nil.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By tick tock on February 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I had nearly forgotten about this record when I started re-perusing R.E.M.'s catalog the other day, but this was one of my favorites by the band from Athens. Not only does it collect a large number of covers and b-sides that wound up on the cutting room floor of IRS, it also contains the hard to find Chronic Town, the band's debut Ep that never enjoyed formal release on Cd.

Chronologically speaking, that EP was a glorious beginning for a group whose vocalist was otherwise incomprehensible to his listeners. We wondered at length what Stipe was actually saying (even coining the term "Michael Stipe diisease" for any singer who mumbled too much), but in the end we had to content ourselves with great music, even if the vocals were little more than a melody of their own.

As for the rest of the disc... well, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Unlike other catch-all compilations that seem to cash in on the loyalty of fans while delivering little in the process, the b-sides and covers are infinitely listenable. When taking in these tracks it becomes quickly evident the affection REM has for such bands as the Velvet Underground and Aerosmtih. Other homages such as Roger Miller's 'King of the Road' communicate a deep connection to the south (and country music in general) and leave one wondering what other influences REM might be hiding.

Dead Letter Office may be the kind of Cd you would prefer to cut, paste, and burn onto a couple blank discs, but it stands on its own as a document of REM's early development and the bands they owe so much to. Well worth your time.
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