We’re gonna Deep Dive into R.E.M. all week, looking at their first five albums. Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe changed the expected sound of Southern rock with their EP, Chronic Town. The guys recorded in North Carolina at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In studio.
The two sides of the release began R.E.M.’s fun naming traditions, Chronic Town and Poster Torn. They took both lines from “Boxcars” AKA “Carnival of Sorts”, my all-time favorite song. Their buddy manager, Jefferson Holt (“Jefferson, I think we’re lost!”) and a pal planned to release the album independently. Miles Copeland (Stewart Copeland of the Police’s brother) caught wind of the songs, and signed them to IRS. Copeland did not like “Ages of You.” He wanted a faster version of “Wolves, Lower,” so the band headed back to the studio to re-record.
Many R.E.M. fans found Chronic Town after the fact, as it was added to the CD release of outtakes, Dead Letter Office. By that time, R.E.M. already had a cult following well beyond the Athens-Atlanta-Chapel Hill college circuit.