R.E.M.’s “Radio Free Europe” turns 40 (original Hib-Tone 7″ being reissued)
R.E.M.'s debut single, "Radio Free Europe," turns 40 today. Originally released on the Hib-Tone label, produced by Mitch Easter and backed with "Sitting Still," this is different from the version found on their debut album, Murmur. Out of print and and unavailable for decades, R.E.M. are reissuing the "Radio Free Europe" 7" for its 40th anniversary.
In further celebration, R.E.M. have now shared a b-side, "Sitting Still" (which was also rerecorded for Murmur) to streaming services for the first time. Mitch Easter talked to NME about recording the single in his famed Drive-In studio, which was in his parent's garage. "It’s funny how much is made of Michael’s pronunciation, as I didn’t think about it," Easter said of Michael Stipe's then often unintelligible vocal style. "I wasn’t thinking, ‘This guy sings weird, you can’t hear what he’s saying.’ I thought Michael was in the grand tradition of singing where listeners will get half the words wrong, but it sounds great, so who cares? There was just a good flow to the session, so it wasn’t discussed. There was no worrying about getting on the radio because people can’t hear what he’s saying, because the radio seemed a million miles away.”
Listen to the original Hib-Tone versions of "Radio Free Europe" and "Sitting Still" below.
You can pick up R.E.M.'s Reckoning, Automatic for the People, and Monster (25th anniversary edition and expanded 2LP anniversary edition) on vinyl in the BV shop.