Chronic Town : R.E.M.
Produced by : Mitch Easter at Drive-In Studios, NC.
IRS Records, 1982.

1. Wolves, Lower
2. Gardening at Night
3. Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)
4. 1,000,000
5. Stumble

R.E.M.'s first release for IRS, the five song ep was recorded in a couple of days at Drive-In Studios, which happens to be a four-track recorder in garage of Mitch Easter's parents' house in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This low-fi set-up did not adversely impact the recording of the album, however, as the sparse sound of jangling guitars and indecipherable lyrics helped cement the band's reputation. Any further production--which actually would have been unlikely for the still-enamoured-with-punk-though-they-don't-sound-it band--would have ruined the album.1

The cover is dichromatic, with blue instead of white, and black. It is a closeup of a rather bored-looking gargoyle surrounded by darkness, which fits with the Southern Gothic feel of the band's early years.

The ep is currently available only on cassette or tacked onto the end of the cd for Dead Letter Office, a collection of b-sides.

The band had been signed to IRS due to coincidence--when Bill Berry and Mike Mills were living in Macon, GA, they played in a band with Ian Copeland, whose brother Miles Copeland would go on to found IRS Records, and whose other brother Stewart Copeland was the drummer for the band The Police. (This is also why R.E.M. openned for the Police during the 1983 tour.)

1. The exception is the song "Stumble" which does use strange sound effects; however, they were all created by the band, not synthesizers. Even more obscure is the demo "Jazz Lips," an alternate version of "Stumble" which is mainly a series of tape loops and Michael Stipe's nonsensical, and truely indecipherable lyrics.

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