is the debut EP
by the American alternative rock
, released in 1982 on I.R.S. Records
is the first illustration of R.E.M.'s
signature musical style: jangling guitars, chords played in
, murmured vocals, and obscure
Background and recording
After the minor success of the group's debut single "Radio Free Europe
" in 1981, R.E.M.
manager Jefferson Holt
felt the band
was ready to record a longer release. While he felt they were not
ready to record a full album, Holt figured an EP would be
satisfactory. The band was uncertain at first if they would record
with producer Mitch Easter
produced "Radio Free Europe"), but Easter managed to convince Holt
and the band to let him produce it.
In October 1981, R.E.M. spent a weekend at Easter's Drive-In
Studios recording the EP. Easter was a fan of the Krautrock
which inspired him to try various sonic experiments while
recording. Easter incorporated tape loops and recorded singer
singing outdoors. The
band was open to such experimentation and used the sessions as an
opportunity to learn how to use a studio.
R.E.M. intended to release the EP on a proposed independent record label
Dasht Hopes run by Holt and his business partner David Healy.
However, the band's demo had caught the attention of I.R.S. Records
The label signed the group to a record deal, working the band out
of its contracts with Healy and Hib-Tone
the indie label which released "Radio Free Europe". I.R.S. heads
Jay Boberg and Miles Copeland
the proposed track listing was weakened by the song "Ages of You",
and felt "Wolves, Lower" was a better choice. However, the pair
felt the original take of the song was too fast. The band
re-recorded "Wolves, Lower" with Easter in June 1982 in a quick
I.R.S. released Chronic Town
in August 1982 as its first
American release. Reaction to the EP varied; one I.R.S. radio
promoter said that many of his contacts at campus radio
didn't know what to make of the
record, but added, "The Georgia stations and some of the more
together college stations across the country jumped on it." The
band filmed its first music video
"Wolves, Lower" to promote the record. The EP sold 20,000 copies in
its first year.
reviewer Richard Grabel wrote,
is five songs that spring to life full of
immediacy and action and healthy impatience. Songs that won't be
denied." Grabel praised the songs' auras of mystery, and concluded,
"R.E.M. ring true, and it's great to hear something as unforced and
cunning as this." Creem
A. Hull began his review saying, "This EP is so arcane that I had
to play it six times in a row to get a handle on it – and even
now, I'm still not sure." Hull praised the EP for "[evoking] the
music of the late-'60s without any pretensions, mingling past and
present to shape both into concurrent moments." Hull concluded,
"Despite its eccentricity, R.E.M.'s record is undoubtedly the
sleeper EP of the year."
ranked second in the EP category of the
Village Voice Pazz & Jop
critics' poll in 1982.
All songs written by Bill Berry
, Peter Buck
, Mike Mills
and Michael Stipe
- Side one – "Chronic Town"
- "Wolves, Lower" – 4:10
- "Gardening at Night" –
- "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" – 3:54
- Side two – "Poster Torn"
Track listing notes:
- "1,000,000" – 3:06
- "Stumble" – 5:40
- On the original vinyl release, R.E.M. labeled the A (or first) side (tracks 1–3) as the "Chronic Town"
side and the B (or second) side (tracks 4 and 5) as the "Poster
Torn" side. Both are lyrics in the band's song "Carnival of Sorts
- The back cover of the album shows the track order incorrectly,
listing side one's tracks after side two's (4-5-1-2-3). On the
Dead Letter Office CD, they were placed in proper
sequence. However, that release's insert reproduction of the EP's
back cover does not correct the running order. The official R.E.M.
website repeats the error.
The EP was added to the CD edition of the band's rarities
compilation album, Dead
(1987), its only current source of
availability on CD. It is, however, available in LP
and cassette formats. It was also bundled
together with Murmur
United Kingdom as The Originals
- Chronic Town
- Dead Letter Office
||0777 7 13199 2 1†
†I.R.S. Vintage Years edition, with bonus tracks
- The Originals
||CD box set
||7243 8 35088 2 2
- Buckey, p. 58
- Buckley, p. 59
- Buckley, p. 60
- Platt, John. "R.E.M." Bucketfull of Brains. December
- Buckley, p. 61–62
- Buckley, p. 65
- Black, p. 64
- Buckley, p. 66–67
- Black, p. 65
- Grabel, Richard. "Nightmare Town". NME. December 11,
- Hull, Robot A. "R.E.M.: Chronic Town." Creem.
- Christgau, Robert. " The 1982 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". Village
Voice. February 22, 1983. Retrieved on March 18, 2008.
- * (I.R.S. Vintage Years edition)
- * (I.R.S. Vintage Years edition)