Arriving mere months before Document took the group into the Top Ten, the B-sides and rarities collection Dead Letter Office sums up all of the quirks and idiosyncrasies that made R.E.M. the leading underground guitar pop band of the '80s. While only a handful of songs on Dead Letter Office rank among the group's best, the record is extremely entertaining, even for casual fans, particularly because it captures the wild spirit of R.E.M. that was evident at their concerts, but not always on their records. Among the gems scattered throughout the collection are the cheerily ridiculous "Band Wagon," "Voice of Harold" (which features Michael Stipe singing the liner notes to a gospel album over the backing of "7 Chinese Brothers"), covers of the Velvet Underground, Pylon, and Aerosmith, the ringing pop of "Burning Down" (which is later reworked as "Ages of You"), and "Walter's Theme," a drunken attempt at a commercial for a local restaurant that segues into a clueless cover of "King of the Road." The material may be slight, but it's fun -- and R.E.M.'s albums aren't always fun.