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Dead Letter Office

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iTunes Review

Dead Letter Office would be essential listening even had it only included the five songs that make up the 1982 Chronic Town EP. That it also features the band running through Velvet Underground songs among other b-sides and rarities makes it an abundance of riches. Chronic Town hadn’t even been part of the original LP; it took the CD era for it to be appended to Dead Letter Office. The chance to hear higher-fidelity versions of “Wolves, Lower,” “Gardening at Night,” “Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars),” “1,000,000,” and “Stumble” is one worthy upgrade. The band’s run-through of Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic”—the b-side of “Fall on Me”—is an odd take on an arena-rock standard, while covers of The Velvet Underground’s “There She Goes Again,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” and “Femme Fatale” aren’t just the band’s speed but also their reason for existing. “Windout” appeared on the soundtrack to the Tom Hanks film Bachelor Party, while country singer Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” had been the b-side for the “So. Central Rain” single. 

Customer Reviews

NOTE: If you’re looking for Chronic Town….

…you’ll need to buy the CD version of this album. This digital release of Dead Letter Office does not contain the Chronic Town EP tracks. When IRS originally released this in 1987, the vinyl version did not include the tracks from the EP, but was added to the CD release (given the CD could store more) as bonus material. The current digital release follows the original vinyl album release. Perhaps that will be remedied if/when the band gets around to remastering this compilation.


Formed: 1980 in Athens, GA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

R.E.M. marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first single, "Radio Free Europe," was released in 1981, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the early '80s, R.E.M. brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon. Combining ringing guitar hooks with mumbled, cryptic lyrics and a D.I.Y. aesthetic borrowed from post-punk, the band simultaneously sounded traditional...
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