As it's now 40 years since its first release,REM decided to mark the occasion by re-releasing the first version of "Radio Free Europe" as close to the original as they could. Let's call it a facsimile edition. It's pretty cool.
Even more excitingly (for the purposes of this blog at least) they also decided to release a version of their first demo tape, limited to 1,500 copies, and only available by jumping through an expensively placed hoop.
Naturally I bit, so I am now the proud owner of a set of REM button badges, a new REM t-shirt, the 7" of "Radio Free Europe" and the demo tape, titled "Cassette Set"
Following on from the 7", it's very close (I guess) to the original release. There's 3 tracks on side 1 of the tape, although it takes a couple of goes for the first one (Sitting Still) and there's a snippet of White Tornado after the actual full track of the same name, as if they taped over their first attempt at the song. Side 2 is blank.
If you're an REM fan of long standing, you'll obviously be familiar with all the songs, and as a package its undoubtedly the most expensive tape I've ever bought. But, its terrific - it feels like a genuine curio, almost like you've found a time machine back to 1981, and the tracks obviously zip past in no time at all, still sounding thrillingly vital 40 years later. This tape is mint.