DEAD LETTER OFFICE is a collection of early B-sides and unreleased tracks. It includes the entire CHRONIC TOWN EP. R.E.M.: Michael Stipe (vocals); Peter Buck (guitar); Mike Mills (bass); Bill Berry (drums). Additional personnel includes: Mitch Easter (acoustic guitar). Producers include: Mitch Easter, R.E.M., Joe Boyd, Don Dixon, Don Gehman. Includes liner notes by Peter Buck. The "outtakes" album is all too often treated as a dumping ground for excess studio tape or contractual obligation. While this collection of rarities makes no effort to refute either charge, it is wide-ranging, informative and uniformly rewarding nonetheless. Spanning the band's career, DEAD LETTER OFFICE is culled from a variety of albums and other sources. It provides a novel perspective, playful and occasionally downright silly, with friendly, self-effacing liner notes by guitarist Peter Buck. The range of production varies greatly, too: some outtakes, such as "Burning Down," are given full treatment. In fact, "Voice Of Harold" is the complete backing track of "Seven Chinese Brothers" with a bizarre vocal take by Stipe (not that the one they kept on RECKONING was any too straightforward). Covers abound, including the opener "Crazy" by fellow Athenians Pylon, a drunken, clumsy take on Roger Miller's "King Of The Road" and yes, Aerosmith's "Toys In The Attic," as well as three Velvet Underground songs. The most striking and inspirational thing about DEAD LETTER OFFICE is that no matter how much effort the band expends, every track displays an innate genius and an intimate level of musical communication.