R.E.M.’s Chronic Town EP now available in DSD and hi-res PCM

  • New adventures in hifi. This week in 1982, R.E.M. released their debut EP. That’s right: the prologue to Murmur, Chronic Town is now 32 years old. Let that sink in for a moment: thirtytwo. Makes you feel kinda old and creaky doesn’t it?

    In terms of release formats, Chronic Town has had a bit of a chequered history. Initially only issued on vinyl and cassette tape and then a limited blue vinyl for Record Store Day in 2010, it has never enjoyed its own official standalone CD release.

    The EP’s five tracks first appeared as CD-only bonus tracks on 1987’s B-sides and oddities collection Dead Letter Office. Then in 1995 a European 3CD ‘Originals’ box set emerged with (possibly) the first CD release proper.


    Earlier this year this little-known title slipped silently into HDTracks’ catalogue to become available as 24bit/96kHz (US$18) or 24bit/192kHz (US$25) PCM downloads. If you reside in mainland Europe and can’t access HDTracks due to region restrictions then Qobuz has a 24-bit release available for €8.73. The sample rate isn’t specified so caution is advised.

    I might have previously scoffed at the prospect of a DSD release for Chronic Town but sure enough Acoustic Sounds has one such download available for US$22. Whilst conceding that spending almost twenty bucks on five songs might prove a little too rich for some I can confirm that it does sound quite a bit better than a Redbook FLAC rip of the aforementioned Dead Letter Office bonus tracks. DSD’s softer edges make for a nice counterbalance to Chronic Town‘s garage rocking, angular aesthetic.

    Anyway, happy birthday Chronic Town – you are awesome.

    Further information: Qobuz | HDTracks | Acoustic Sounds

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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