We’re rapidly approaching the 40th anniversary of R.E.M.’s debut single, the epochal “Radio Free Europe,” released on July 8, 1981. The band has a few things in the works to celebrate, but in the meantime, let’s dip into the band’s live archive. It’s always fun to hear Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry in their revved-up early days and this excellent audience tape from late ’81 does not disappoint. R.E.M. had only been together since April of the previous year, but they already have a surprisingly rich repertoire, with a distinctive sound firmly in place. Mills and Berry are a dream rhythm section, buoyant and danceable, while Buck jangles majestically over the top. Stipe is a deeply unique vocalist, but he’s never alienating in the way that other singers of the era often could be. He really leans into those soaring choruses with gusto. R.E.M. were just getting started at this point, but they’d already come so far. | t wilcox
Download: R.E.M. :: Viceroy Park, Charlotte, NC, November 7, 1981 (via)
Set One: 01. Just A Touch 02. Burning Down 03. Shaking Through 04. (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville 05. There She Goes Again 06. Permanent Vacation 07. Pretty Persuasion 08. That Beat 09. Mystery To Me 10. Carnival Of Sorts | Set Two: 11. Ages Of You 12. I Can’t Control Myself 13. Ha (We Get Paid For It) 14. Laughing 15. Romance 16. Sitting Still 17. Wolves, Lower 18. Gardening at Night 19. 9-9 20. Windout 21. 1,000,000 22. Radio Free Europe
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