In anticipation of their upcoming 8-disc box set R.E.M. at the BBC, the band has released a version of “E-Bow the Letter,” recorded for a 2004 radio broadcast of a concert at London’s St. James’ Church, which features Thom Yorke. Patti Smith contributed vocals to the original studio version of the track, from 1996’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi. The Radiohead singer began performing the song with R.E.M. in the late-’90s, most famously at the Tibetan Freedom Concert (see footage of that collaboration here, featuring Yorke in some very sick baggy cargo pants). The 2004 recording is included on the eighth disc of R.E.M.’s new set, which is devoted to live radio broadcasts and features the entirety of the St. James’ Church concert.
The band has also released other advance tracks from the compilation, including a 2003 BBC Radio recording of “Orange Crush” (originally from 1988’s Green). See also: a 1984 live version of “Radio Free Europe” recorded at Nottingham’s Rock City venue and a 1991 take on “Losing My Religion” with alternate instrumentation, also recorded for BBC Radio. The set, due out on October 19, will come in an abridged double-disc version as well as a full box set, for the less rabid fans. In recent R.E.M. news, Michael Stipe is off Instagram. Preorder the BBC compendium here, and listen to the live “E-Bow the Letter” recording below.