R.E.M. Chronic Town

Label
Concord / UMG
Released
19th August 2022

Format Info

12" Picture Disc
CD

Celebrating its 40 th anniversary this year, R.E.M.’s debut EP CHRONIC TOWN will be released for the first time ever as a standalone CD with extensive liner notes by the
original producer Mitch Easter (Let’s Active).

Featuring such adored classics in the band’s repertoire as “Gardening At Night”, “Wolves, Lower” and
“1,000,000,” the five song EP, as Rolling Stone noted, “served notice that R.E.M. was an outfit to watch.”
As a debut release, R.E.M.’s Chronic Town was an anomaly… a record that didn’t quite fit into the
constraints of what was played on the radio. So instead of trying to fit into a genre, R.E.M. helped
create their own: College Rock. The follow-up to their breakthrough single “Radio Free Europe” which
was released in 1981, Chronic Town served as the entry point to what would become one of Alternative
Rock’s biggest bands. “One might fancifully say that Chronic Town was the sound of an expedition,
ready for anything, setting forth,” says Easter fondly about the EP. “If R.E.M. ‘Radio Free Europe’ single
was a signpost, the Chronic Town EP was the atlas.”
Introducing their arpeggiated guitar playing, cryptic and often indecipherable lyrics, and radiant
choruses that would soon emerge as signatures of the classic R.E.M. sound, Chronic Town is the sound
of a restless band, chock full of ideas, operating on a post-collegiate budget. Charmingly ragged and
refreshingly immediate, it established the band indelibly upon impact. “Wolves, Lower” opens the EP
with Michael Stipe’s trademark impressionistic and idiosyncratic lyrics, while Mike Mills’ rubbery bass
lines and Peter Buck’s jangly Rickenbacker keeps Bill Berry’s unpredictable drumming in check. It’s this
combination that would not only fuel the band for subsequent decades but make them equally as
dependable as songsmiths. Serving as a template for ‘80s college jangle pop, “Gardening At Night”
forged a style that combined heartily strummed rhythm guitars with a meandering bass line that proved
to be a solid blueprint for college bands to come.