Dead Letter Office (album)

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 from before Murmur to Lifes Rich Pageant that were outtakes or released as B-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 fellow Athenians Pylon ("Crazy"), Aerosmith ("Toys in the Attic") and Roger Miller ("King of the Road").

Dead Letter Office
Compilation album by
ReleasedApril 27, 1987 (1987-04-27)
GenreAlternative rock
R.E.M. chronology
Lifes Rich Pageant
Dead Letter Office
R.E.M. compilations chronology
Dead Letter Office
Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert ChristgauC+[3]
Rolling StoneFavorable[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[5]

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 four months.[6]

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

Dead Letter Office originally reached No. 52 in the US and No. 60 in the UK. Referring to the album in 2003, Pitchfork were favorable, saying the album was "such a blast" due to it possessing a certain "kind of drunken studio fuckery."[7]

Track listing

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

Post side

  1. "Crazy" (Randy Bewley, Vanessa Briscoe, Curtis Crowe, Michael Lachowski) – 3:03 B-side of "Driver 8" 7-inch single and "Wendell Gee" 7 and 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 and 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 and 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 and 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

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's singing the liner notes from the back cover of a gospel album, The Joy of Knowing Jesus by The Revelaires.[8]
  • 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.


Weekly charts

Chart (1987) Peak
US Billboard 200[9] 52
UK Albums (OCC)[10] 60


Year Single Chart Peak
1987 "Ages of You" Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[11] 39

See also


  1. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "R.E.M. Dead Letter Office review". AllMusic. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  2. Johnson, Howard (May 28, 1987). "REM 'Dead Letter Office'". Kerrang!. 147. London, UK: Spotlight Publications ltd. p. 17.
  3. Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Dead Letter Office". Robert Christgau. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  4. Guterman, Jimmy (July 2, 1987). "Album Reviews - R.E.M. - Dead Letter Office". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on November 15, 2007. Retrieved September 20, 2011.
  5. "R.E.M.: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  6. Reveal: The Story of R.E.M., Johnny Black, 2004
  7. "R.E.M.: In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 Album Review - Pitchfork". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  8. Back cover of The Joy of Knowing Jesus by The Revelaires
  9. "R.E.M. Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  10. "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  11. "Dead Letter Office Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved September 20, 2011.