With Metallica scheduled to play the 1987 Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, the band's UK label Vertigo Records suggested them to release an extended play for the situation. With songwriting attempts with new bassist Jason Newsted only resulting in a demo for "Blackened" and frontman James Hetfield breaking his arm skateboarding, Metallica resorted to recording covers, just like the European "Creeping Death" single led to two B-sides labeled "Garage Days Revisited". Newsted used his construction experience to install soundproofing on Lars Ulrich's garage in El Cerrito, California, where the band would rehearse. While rehearsing "White Lightning" by New wave of British heavy metal band Paralex, Kirk Hammett instead started playing "The Wait" by post-punk group Killing Joke, making Metallica choose that song. Other tracks considered but dropped included "Signal Thunder" by Japanese band Bow Wow, and another NWOBHM song, Gaskin's "I'm No Fool". The title had The $5.98 E.P. included in an effort to ensure that fans were not overcharged for it. The original cassette release included a sticker which read "If they try to charge more, STEAL IT!" The official United States CD release of the EP amended the title (and the price) to The $9.98 CD because the retail price of CDs was much higher than cassettes; other countries (such as Australia) still displayed The $5.98 E.P. with a sticker stating that this was the "title" and not the price. "The Wait" was omitted from the UK pressings in order to conform to local music-industry rules regarding the length of EPs.
Though The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited has been out of print since 1989 and is considered a collector's item, all five tracks were later included on the 1998 double-album Garage Inc., along with a number of other covers Metallica had recorded throughout its career as well as a collection of entirely new recordings. The cover of the CD also was used as a basis for the Garage Inc. back cover, which showed the original Garage Days cover with pictures of the member's faces, circa 1998, taped over the original faces, along with Garage Inc. covering the original album name.
The EP's sleevenotes are noteworthy as a nomination for the first use of the word "hella"; James Hetfield is quoted as saying that the studios "hella sucked".