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A Black Friday Record Store Day Report

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Record Store Day Finds

In case you didn’t know it, this past Black Friday was also Record Store Day (RSD), the second official holiday for music fanatics this year. While I didn’t buy as much as I did last time, curiously half of what I bought were releases that were not exclusive to RSD. This got me to thinking that many people may well miss the big underlying point of RSD — to spend time in the stores and shop for lots of different music, not just grab your limited edition items and leave.

Here’s a run down of what I picked up:
THe WHo, Quadrophenia Demos, 10-inch LP, Record Store DayQuadrophenia Demos — I’m a Who and Pete Townshend completist, and even though I have the new Quadrophenia Director’s Cut box set (with all the demos on two CDs), I had to pick up the neato 10-inch LP version made available only on RSD. Haven’t even played it yet, as I want to spend some time with the CD version first — accordingly, I’ll include a review of this when I finish the review of the box set (soon!).

SHARON JONES, SOUL TIME, RECORD STORE DAY Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings: Soul Time! — I’d heard some of her stuff on YouTube and missed seeing her a couple of times here in San Francisco, but when I bumped into my friend Ray at Amoeba Records carrying his sole find — a copy of this album — I decided to give it a shot. Ray said that this album was a compilation of rare singles and B-sides released previously only in the UK. Awesome stuff. And for anyone who tells me “there is no good music being made anymore,” I point them to Sharon Jones for starters and tell them to shut up and listen.

Miles Davis, Prestige 161, Record Store Day reissue, blue vinylMiles Davis Quartet — I was getting prepared to return this one, as I’d read it was going to be on blue vinyl, but when I opened up the album it appeared to be standard black vinyl. Granted, it is a cool reissue of this very early Miles 10-inch album on Prestige (and I have always loved how the Prestige albums sound). Bummed a bit, I decided to hold the disc up to the light, thinking that perhaps this was like the Quiex vinyl (which appears brown red when held up to the light). Lo and behold — it is on colored vinyl, but more a purple and red blend. It’s pretty cool, since when flat it looks just like regular black vinyl! I wonder what kind of vinyl this is made of? The disc sounds just ducky in mono, and is very quiet and clean. Very punchy, and a great soundstage that leaps out into the room. And finding an original pressing in this condition would be pretty difficult. So this is a nice find!

Yes, Anderson Bruford Wakman Howe, LP, Arista RecordsAnderson Bruford Wakeman Howe — for $3 I picked up a vinyl copy of this overlooked 1989 gem, a side-product of the feuding founding members of the influential progressive rock band Yes. I’d never seen this on LP before, as this was an album that came out when CDs were overtaking the LP as the primary medium for new releases. Essentially, this is the classic 1972-73 line up of Yes with session pro and King Crimson/Peter Gabriel band alumnus Tony Levin filling in for Chris Squire on bass, and original Yes drummer Bill Bruford! Its like having half of the Discipline-era King Crimson playing Yes music! And the results are just lovely. “Brother of Mine” is a classic Jon Anderson opus that builds and grows like the best vintage Yes album should. Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe’s contributions to this are superb. The sound is really nice. The CD always had a bit of a boxy FM radio sound of the time, and that is here on the disc, albeit a bit fuller and rounder sounding… even warmer, if you will. The music holds up, and you get large scale version of Roger Dean’s beautiful surrealist cover art work, all but lost on the CD version. For $3, I’m a happy camper.

Paul McCartney, Press, LP, Capitol RecordsPaul McCartney: Press to Play — When this album came out in 1986 I remember making the conscious decision to get the CD version over the LP because it had three bonus tracks on it. While I don’t regret that decision, I later recognized that this was an album that more or less disappeared from consciousness on LP (in collectors-speak this means it might become rare and collectible). This McCartney album was pretty much ignored at the time of its release, which is a real shame, as it contains some fantastic songs and a cast of musicians that is something of a who’s who of hot players at the time — from Jerry Marotta and Phil Collins to Pete Townshend, Ray Cooper, and Carlos Alomar. Audiophiles should like it because Macca spent a lot of time on his vision for the audio mix (he includes drawings of where every sound is placed, which you can see a whole lot more clearly on the gatefold sleeve than in the tiny CD booklet). Really, this album is every bit strong as Tug of War (1982) or Flowers in the Dirt (1989). Perhaps it was the over-stylized and very un-rock and roll black and white cover photo of Paul and Linda on the cover that didn’t fit the music, or perhaps it marked the beginning of the end of mass appeal for gated snare drums. (I’d love to hear this album remixed without the gated snare sound). Regardless, for $6 I was happy to find a nice near-mint copy of this on LP, and it sounds really nice. It warms up quite a bit on LP even over my UK-issue CD version. Frankly, it also works better as an LP without the bonus tracks, ending at just the right time when you are ready to move on to another record and more music would be overkill (a problem with some CDs when artists felt they needed to stuff them full to 70 minutes or more length). So, for $6 this was a reasonable investment to help round out my Macca collection.

Guided By Voices, Unsinkable Fats Domino, 45 RPM singleAnd finally, I also picked up the new Guided By Voices 45! Yup, a new 45 RPM single with a picture sleeve! Original band line up, a preview for the new album coming out early next year. I’m stoked. It’s my first GBV single purchase! I guess the flood gates are opening for a new era of collecting for me…

So, again, the point of all this is that next time you go out on Record Store Day, don’t just limit yourself to the special editions available that day. Look around and check out the other cool stuff the store has to offer. A world of possibilities awaits you…

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