R.E.M. fans got a rare surprise for their annual Christmas gift from the band this year: former drummer Bill Berry, who retired from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group in 1997, made a rare appearance with one of his old Murmur bandmates on one of the two songs featured on the 2009 Christmas single sent to members of the R.E.M. fan club, Slicing Up Eyeballs reports. Berry drums while R.E.M.’s Mike Mills sings and plays both bass and guitar on the track “Crazy Like a Fox,” a cover of a 1966 Lenny Kaye protest song. Mills also performed the Xmas single’s other track, the classic “Santa Baby,” by himself.
Neither Michael Stipe nor Peter Buck appear on either track, but it’s nice to see Berry performing once again under the R.E.M. moniker. “Crazy Like a Fox” also marks the first time Berry has recorded in the studio with R.E.M. since they covered John Lennon’s “#9 Dream” for a tribute comp in March 2007, just days after Berry performed with his former band mates at their Rock Hall induction ceremony.