While purists will insist on an undiluted copy of the band's 1982 Chronic Town EP, R.E.M. completists (and those who just like a lot of tracks for their money) will be grateful for the inclusion of 15 additional B-sides and curios on this 1987 compilation. Not surprisingly, the non-Chronic material is a mixed blessing: while R.E.M. were much beloved for being notorious cover-whores during those early Athens live shows, their reverent takes on Velvet Underground classics stand the test of time far better than their odes to Roger Miller and Aerosmith. But all that will be forgotten by the time Chronic Town's "Wolves, Lower" kicks in, signaling the official arrival of a band that forever changed the face of Southern rock.
''Dead Letter Office'' is a rarities and B-sides collection by R.E.M., released in 1987. The album is essentially a collection of many additional recordings R.E.M. made pre-''Murmur'' to ''Lifes Rich Pageant'' that were outtakes or released as flip 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 Pylon, Aerosmith and Roger Miller.
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 IRS, ''Document'', by a mere five months.
The album was initially issued as a 15-song collection on vinyl and cassette, but when its CD edition appeared (now the only available edition of ''Dead Letter Office'') the five tracks from the band's 1982 ''Chronic Town'' EP were added. This is also the only current CD availability of ''Chronic Town''.
''Dead Letter Office'' originally reached #52 in the U.S. and #60 in the UK. - Wikipedia