There were less than 1,000 copies of the first pressing of this single, from July 1981. Second-hand copies rarely come up for sale and can fetch up to £200.
The re-press, which differs in that the Athens, Georgia address of Hib-Tone Records has been printed on the label, is marginally easier to get a hold of in that around 6,000 were pressed up. There’s a few for sale on Discogs, from the USA and Japan, with the asking price either side of £100.
Hib-Tone Records was a short-lived affair, founded by Johnny Hibbert, who actually seems to have had a bigger role to play in the R.E.M. story than I previously believed.
The version of Radio Free Europe which I’m linking to today is courtesy of the compilation album, Eponymous, released in 1988, that I’ve always thought was the original single as that is what it says on the album sleeve.
But, while researching for this post, I found that the Epnoymous version is, in fact, the demo which the band recorded with Mitch Easter in April 1981, while the version that came out on 7″ vinyl on Hib-Tone was one which had been re-mixed by Johnny Hibbert. It turned out that the band, and in particular Peter Buck, wanted the original Easter version to be the single but the label-owner, who pointed out he was financing the manufacturing and distribution, wasn’t having it.
So….what follows isn’t what you’d hear if you pulled out the 7″ from the Hib-Tone sleeve, but is the version the band wanted and is the one most readily available (and the one I actually have!!)
mp3 : R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe
Here’s its b-side. It was also later re-recorded for Murmur.
mp3 : R.E.M. – Sitting Still
There’s a very strong possibility that the Sunday singles slot, when it returns later in the year, will feature R.E.M.