R.E.M. - ATHENS 1980

March 30, 2013 – 4:44 am

Click on the panels for a better view or to download artwork.

Athens 1980 [no label, 1CD]

Live at Tyrone’s O.C., Athens, Georgia; October 4, 1980. Good to fairly good soundboard.

This show is possibly the first R.E.M. bootleg to surface. This show took place about eight months before the group released their first 7-inch single, Radio Free Europe, on Hib-Tone; and more than two years before Murmur hit the racks in 1983.

At one point, it was considered the earliest R.E.M. gig in circulation and since then [according to REMchronicle], the gig on May 30, 1980 at Watt Club, Athens is the earliest known R.E.M. bootleg.

Thanks to Butterking, and JEMS, who shared the tracks on Dime in 2008.

Butterking’s notes:

“Bodycount 1980″ or so reads the cassette case of what remains one of the best extant R.E.M. live sets from the very early days. This recording first appeared on the vinyl bootleg Bodycount at Tyrone’s and later on the famous CD bootleg 20th Century Boys Vol. 2.

The original cassette used as the source for 20th Century Boys fell into JEMS’ collective lap a while back and, to the best of my knowledge, this recording has never circulated directly from the tape source (meaning all known copies are derived from the above bootlegs).

I call it a “presumed first generation” based on the fact that side two of the tape contains another artist recorded in 1989. I have good reasons (that are not appropriate to share here) to believe both recordings were dubbed from the masters to this cassette by the original taper.

The order of the tracks listed above is how they appear on the tape, which is hand-labeled with several of the incorrect titles that first appeared on the bootlegs (e.g. “Narrator” is called “Jaque (sic) Cousteau”; “All the Right Friends” is called “Party Girl”). The track list differs from what’s noted at the indispensable setlist resource REMTimeline.com (which has “Nervous Breakdown” first and “Just a Touch” second). The site also lists the set closing with “Gloria-Shakin’ All Over-Respect” and “White Tornado,” but those tracks aren’t on the cassette.

The handwritten set list on the cassette case says “Route 66″ is the last song after “Permanent Vacation”, but only a fragment of the intro (literally someone saying “Route…” before it cuts) survives the recording.

The 20th Century Boys Vol. 2 CD omits “Nervous Breakdown” for some odd reason, but it is on this tape in the order noted.

Close listening to the tape reveals several cuts and stops so it is difficult to say if this order is accurate or even if all the tracks come from the same show (REMChronicle.com says “Stepping Stone” is from another unknown source). However, sonically they do sound like they come from the same show and the cassette is noted accurately below the set list as “Tyrone’s O.C. 10/4/1980.” Regardless, I do believe it is the best version of the recording to surface to date and it is two minutes and one song longer than the 20th Century Boys Vol. 2 CD.

There are some audio defects, especially in the first 10 minutes or so. Some sound like PA issues; others sound like tape noises. Given that the other side of the tape plays through perfectly, I believe the tape noises must have affected the master when it was being dubbed. The 20th Century Boys Vol. 2 CD has the same flaws.

Beyond all of the above, this is an amazing piece of R.E.M. history as the earliest known recording. And the few minor defects aside it sounds fantastic.

I did no mastering other than to raise levels. The recording is mono, but presented dual channel as it was on the cassette.

presumed first generation cassette (source of 20th Century Boys Vol. 2 CD) > Nakamichi CR-7A azimuth-adjusted transfer (Feb 2008) > Peak 5.2 > FLAC

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Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (224 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

Please Do Not Hammer The Links. Due to the size of some of the files, please be very patient when downloading the tracks. It could be that the server was very busy. The tracks should still be around. Please try again later. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you encounter persistent problems downloading the files.

Track 01. Just a Touch (3.9MB)
Track 02. Nervous Breakdown (3.3MB)
Track 03. A Girl Like You (3.5MB)
Track 04. Dangerous Times (3.8MB)
Track 05. There She Goes Again (4.7MB)
Track 06. I Can Only Give You Everything (4.4MB)
Track 07. All the Right Friends (6.3MB)
Track 08. (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (6.3MB)
Track 09. Body Count (9.0MB)
Track 10. Hippy Hippy Shake (2.6MB)
Track 11. Action (3.3MB)
Track 12. Narrator (4.7MB)
Track 13. Hey Hey Nadine (4.2MB)
Track 14. Gardening at Night (cut at end) (5.6MB)
Track 15. Scheherazade (3.9MB)
Track 16. Lisa Says (2.7MB)
Track 17. Mystery to Me (3.7MB)
Track 18. Stepping Stone (4.1MB)
Track 19. Permanent Vacation (.5 second of Route 66 intro) (3.4MB)

Michael Stipe - vocals
Peter Buck - guitar
Mike Mills - bass
Bill Berry - drums

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  1. 17 Responses to “R.E.M. - ATHENS 1980”

  2. “Good to fairly good”…
    Shouldn’t it be: “Fairly good to good”?

    By Timmy on Mar 30, 2013

  3. 2 VU covers… not bad.

    By Timmy on Mar 30, 2013

  4. Sounds good to me. Punkish take on proto-rock. Fun listen.

    By 4yrsnojob on Mar 30, 2013

  5. great covers band- eddie cochran, the vu, them, the swinging blue jeans, and the monkees. i like stipe’s occasional buddy holly vocals too. thanks bigo!

    By barth on Mar 30, 2013

  6. fair/average/so-so covers.Their originals were even worse

    By nutshell on Mar 30, 2013

  7. Why do people waste their time spreading their self important opinions and hating. Do you think we care? Do you think REM record sales missed you? I think a fair share of people like this band. Go find something to like and leave us alone That;’s it in a Nutshell.

    By the blob on Mar 31, 2013

  8. a shame baby they couldn`t thing a elveth thong.

    By bacterial elveth on Apr 1, 2013

  9. i hear you nutshell.They were overrated.I don’t know too many ppl either that like this stuff-it was usually college folks who thought they had to like it because their friends did.Go figure.

    By john b on Apr 2, 2013

  10. Oh my god, REM as “overrated”?! You surely were not around at the time. You have no idea of their impact on thousands of bands in the U.S. alone.

    Sure other folks were doing similar things, but just like Anchor Steam and Sam Adams for craft-ier beers, REM was the band that brought it to broader public attention and made it at least semi-commercially viable (remember no “hit” singles for REM until years later).

    Plus they were a hell of a lot better than other more trendy bands (e.g., Pylon (and I like them a lot)).

    REM and for the more cultist less popular bunch The Replacements made this whole wide area of music that had tremendous impact (here in Boston they pushed old dinosaur WBCN to the sidelines until they hoisted the white flag and became a “college rock” station) and made a ton of great music.

    I cannot really imagine anyone who knows how things actually happened back then as thinking they could ever be overrated. Oh, and they had a song called “Nightswimming.” Listen to it (and a good three dozen others at least).

    Ace K.

    By Ace K. on Apr 18, 2013

  11. Oh my god, REM as “overrated”?!

    only 13 year olds start sentences with o my gawd.

    By frank furter on Apr 18, 2013

  12. Good points all john b

    Michael stipe always seemed to have a high opinion of hisself (much like sting and bono,to mention a few).This was a musical phase much like grunge.overrated is a good word-flatulent is even better.

    By justin case on Apr 18, 2013

  13. Oh, and they had a song called “Nightswimming.” Listen to it (and a good three dozen others at least).’

    Do I have to? I’ll listen to half a song-three dozen-no way

    By mike blickenstaff on Apr 19, 2013

  14. I love them and I`m hiding!

    By andy kaufffman on Apr 19, 2013

  15. good for you….stay hidden

    By mike blickenstaff on Apr 19, 2013

  16. http://diffuser.fm/michael-stipe-performs-his-first-solo-concert-since-r-e-m-broke-up/?utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=newsletter_4511871

    By darth on Dec 31, 2014

  17. any chance of the smithsj complete troy tate tapes

    By tc on Feb 15, 2015

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