Good news for all R.E.M. obsessives, and we know you’re out there: Michael Stipe and his Athens brethren will release a four-song EP, Reckoning Songs from the Olympia, via iTunes and those mysterious “digital service providers” on July 7th. Timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary re-release of Reckoning, the tracks are taken from the band’s residency at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre two summers ago, a series of expansive, catalog-baring shows that took up their own residency on YouTube almost immediately.
The EP’s four tracks — “Harborcoat,” “Letter Never Sent,” “Second Guessing,” and “Pretty Persuasion” — will also serve as a sort of amuse-bouche for the 2-CD live album R.E.M. plans to release this fall from the same Olympia gigs. I went ahead and pasted an incomplete clip of “Harborcoat” below; YouTube has informed me this is the first time they’d played it since 1986, one of those helpful snippets of information that the aforementioned obsessives can always be relied upon to know. So what do you think, Mixers? Is this EP something for everyone, or will only the fanboys pull out their wallets? Did you catch R.E.M. on their Accelerate tour — and do they still have it? And do you require another live album from these guys at this point, or does 2007’s R.E.M. Live still cover your bases?