R.E.M. fans have prized the band's rare fan club singles for more than two decades, and now the group is considering releasing the highly desired tracks as a box set to raise money for charity. The alt-rockers released a two-track fan exclusive each year from 1988 until their dissolution in 2011. Though the releases were sent to fan club members who joined for a mere $10 a year, genuine copies fetch a high price today, as the band pressed only 6,000 copies of each single. Individual fan club singles can fetch triple digit prices, and a collection of nearly all the Christmas-related fan club releases is currently listed for more than $1,100 on music memorabilia website Eil.com.
"I just liked the idea . . . I was never in the Beatles fan club but . . . I really liked the fact you would get a weird thing in the mail every year," guitarist Peter Buck told the BBC. "So every year, R.E.M. put out a record. It was all material that had never been released anywhere else." R.E.M. packed the singles with new original songs, duets with artists like Neil Young and Radiohead and covers including Television's "See No Evil." "There were like 24 of them, which makes about 50 songs," Buck said. "We'll put them in a big box set for charity one day."
Despite the news, an R.E.M. reunion looks unlikely in the near future. "Right now, there are zero plans for an R.E.M. reunion. Absolutely zero," bassist Mike Mills told Rolling Stone in May. "But the future is a strange place. We could all be hit by a meteor tomorrow, but I would consider it highly unlikely."
Buck is currently playing with Tired Pony, which also includes Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol and Richard Colburn from Belle and Sebastian, among others. Their latest album, The Ghost of the Mountain, arrives on August 19th.