R.E.M. reissue their original Hib-Tone debut single, Radio Free Europe – plus limited edition '81 demo cassette

(Image credit: Chris Walter/WireImage)

R.E.M. have reissued the original 1981 recording of their debut single, Radio Free Europe on seven-inch vinyl, plus a special Cassette Set collecting their early demo recordings.

Radio Free Europe is a much-loved track. While many fans were introduced to it via the 1983 version found on the Athens, Georgia band's full-length debut, Murmur, the original demo recording captures the band as their sound first took shape on record.

Honouring the band's roots, the seven-inch vinyl was pressed Athens' Kindercore Vinyl, and features Michael Stipe's photography as sleeve art. The B-side features Sitting Still, which was one of three songs recorded in the 1981 demo sessions, with White Tornado available on the deluxe Cassette Set.

Limited to 1,500 units worldwide, the Cassette Set makes a very collectible item for R.E.M. fans who have yet to dispense with their tape recorders. It has two versions of Sitting Still, a snippet of a fast "polka" version, and two versions of White Tornado, the second of which coming from a second, aborted take. And all this comes in the original packaging, with the same labels as handwritten by Stipe.

Don't worry if you've taken your cassette player down to the charity shop. The R.E.M. store has you covered, offering a limited run of 500 commemorative portable cassette players to help celebrate the band's 40th anniversary.

For more details and to order, head on over to REMHQ.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.