To tide over fans eagerly awaiting their upcoming album, due next spring, R.E.M. dispatched their annual Christmas gift to members of their fan club last week.
The Athens-based band has turned back the hands of time -- after sending out a video in 1998 and a CD last year -- and has gifted their faithful with a seven-inch single. In nod to Elvis and the Beatles, the band pressed the single on blue vinyl, and included a cover of the Fab Four's "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)." The platter also features two instrumentals recorded last May in Vancouver, British Columbia during the sessions for their yet-to-be titled album. The first track, "Hasting and Main" is a 1:22 jazz-imbued piano and bass instrumental, followed by a more poppy and longer "Take Seven," a snippet that they played at soundcheck during their Atlanta shows on Aug. 28 and 29.
In addition to the music in their annual Christmas stocking, fans also received a calendar and R.E.M. sticker.