Dead Letter Office (album)

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Dead Letter Office
R.E.M. - Dead Letter Office.jpg
Compilation album by R.E.M.
Released April 27, 1987 (1987-04-27)
Recorded 1981–1986
Genre Alternative rock
Length 43:22
Label I.R.S.
Producer Mitch Easter, Don Dixon, Joe Boyd, Don Gehman and R.E.M.
R.E.M. chronology
Lifes Rich Pageant
Dead Letter Office
R.E.M. compilations chronology
Dead Letter Office
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
Kerrang! 3.75/5[5]
Robert Christgau C+[2]
Rolling Stone Favorable[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4.5/5 stars[4]

Dead Letter Office is a rarities and B-sides collection by R.E.M., released in April 1987. The album is essentially a collection of many additional recordings R.E.M. made pre-Murmur to Lifes Rich Pageant that were outtakes or released as flip sides to their singles internationally. Many of the tracks are favorite cover versions indicating the band's disparate influences and musical tastes, including three Velvet Underground covers, and songs by Pylon, Aerosmith and Roger Miller.

Guitarist Peter Buck composed wry, self-deprecating (and, in one instance, apologetic) liner notes to the songs on the album. Buck initially had doubts about releasing it, saying he felt as though people would perceive the album as the band "trying to cash in, maybe to sell some records," as the ultimate release date predated that of the band's final studio album with I.R.S., Document, by a mere five months.[6]

The album was initially issued as a 15-song collection on vinyl and cassette, but when its CD edition appeared (now the only available edition of Dead Letter Office) the five tracks from the band's 1982 Chronic Town EP were added. This is also the only current CD availability of Chronic Town.

Dead Letter Office originally reached #52 in the U.S. and #60 in the UK. Referring to the album in 2003, Pitchfork Media were favourable, saying the album was "such a blast" due to it possessing a certain "kind of drunken studio fuckery."[7]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, except as indicated.

Post side

  1. "Crazy" (Randy Bewley, Vanessa Briscoe, Curtis Crowe, Michael Lachowski) – 3:03 B-side of "Driver 8" 7 inch single & "Wendell Gee" 7 & 12 inch singles
  2. "There She Goes Again" (Lou Reed) – 2:50 B-side of I.R.S. "Radio Free Europe" 7 inch single
  3. "Burning Down" – 4:12 B-side of "Wendell Gee" 7 & 12 inch singles
  4. "Voice of Harold"1 – 4:24 B-side of "So. Central Rain" 12 inch single
  5. "Burning Hell" – 3:49 B-side of "Cant Get There From Here" 12 inch single
  6. "White Tornado" – 1:55 Recorded on the same day as the "Radio Free Europe" single in 1981, B-side of "Superman" 7 & 12 inch single
  7. "Toys in the Attic" (Steven Tyler, Joe Perry) – 2:28 B-side of "Fall On Me" 12 inch singles
Script side
  1. "Windout" (Jerry Ayers, Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe) – 1:58 from Bachelor Party soundtrack
  2. "Ages of You" – 3:42 B-side of "Wendell Gee" 7 & 12 inch singles
  3. "Pale Blue Eyes" (Reed) – 2:53 B-side of "So. Central Rain" 12 inch single
  4. "Rotary Ten" – 2:00 B-side of "Fall on Me" 7 inch single
  5. "Bandwagon" (Berry, Buck, Mills, Lynda Stipe, M. Stipe) – 2:16 B-side of "Cant Get There From Here" 7 & 12 inch singles
  6. "Femme Fatale" (Reed) – 2:49 B-side of "Superman" 12 inch single
  7. "Walters Theme"2 – 1:32 B-side of "So. Central Rain" 7 inch single
  8. "King of the Road"2 (Roger Miller) – 3:13 B-side of "So. Central Rain" 7 inch single
CD Bonus tracks (Chronic Town EP)
  1. "Wolves, Lower" – 4:10
  2. "Gardening at Night" – 3:29
  3. "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" – 3:54
  4. "1,000,000" – 3:06
  5. "Stumble" – 5:40

The IRS Years reissue[edit]

On January 26, 1993, EMI (which owns the I.R.S. catalogue) re-released Dead Letter Office in Europe with two bonus tracks:

  1. "Gardening at Night" (acoustic version) – 3:53
  2. "All the Right Friends"3 – 3:53


  • 1 Features the backing track of "7 Chinese Bros." (from Reckoning) with Stipe singing the liner notes from the back cover of a gospel album, The Joy of Knowing Jesus by The Revelaires.
  • 2 Buck says "Walter's Theme" and "King of the Road" were recorded extemporaneously during a recording session while the band was drunk. The songs were recorded at the end of a tryout session with Elliot Mazer in 1983, prior to the recording of Reckoning. In "Walter's Theme", Stipe references the Pere Ubu song "Lonesome Cowboy Dave" ("I got a hat the size of Oklahoma!"); "King of the Road" consists mostly of Stipe fumbling through the lyrics ("I'm a man, a man by no means") as Buck and Mills try to arrive at the same key (both can be heard yelling chord names at each other).
  • 3 Studio outtake, as listed on And I Feel Fine... The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982–1987.



Year Chart Position
1987 The Billboard 200[8] 52 (14 weeks on chart)
1987 UK Albums Chart[9] 60 (2 weeks on chart)


Year Single Chart Position
1987 "Ages of You" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[10] 39

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "R.E.M. Dead Letter Office review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Dead Letter Office". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  3. ^ Guterman, Jimmy (2 July 1987). "Album Reviews - R.E.M. - Dead Letter Office". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  4. ^ "R.E.M.: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  5. ^ Johnson, Howard (28 May 1987). "REM 'Dead Letter Office'". Kerrang!. 147. London, UK: Spotlight Publications ltd. p. 17. 
  6. ^ Reveal: The Story of R.E.M., Johnny Black, 2004
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Dead Letter Office Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  9. ^ "Dead Letter Office Chart Stats". Chart Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  10. ^ "Dead Letter Office Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-20.