Y’know, kids, Record Store Day (RSD) is a dream sort of faux holiday for people like me: two days each year when record labels and retailers conspire to create special editions just for sale that day, often in very limited runs. I mean, its just a buzz to know that thousands — or perhaps millions! — of people are out there just like me looking for cool new music and rare treasures by the artists we love. It’s also a bit of a affirmation for those of us who love what some may consider a lonely hobby — listening to music — that in fact many people still do enjoy discovering and collecting new physical media. The past week I have been traveling, visiting friends in Southern California, and along the way, I have been making pit stops in every nook and cranny thrift shop and garage sale I come across.
For Black Friday/Record Store Day, I found myself in L.A. proper, waiting in line on Sunset Blvd. for the biggest store in town to open up: kudos must first go out to Amoeba Records for employing a tremendously organized and disciplined approach (involving check list order forms distributed to those of us waiting on line) so everyone had a fair chance at getting what they wanted without the typical chaos that has marred some earlier RSD events. This was very easy and mellow and fair to all on a day not known for its ease, mellowness, or fairness. I arrived at 7:45 and was 33rd on line (the store technically wouldn’t open until 10:30, but they had many of us checked out for our initial RSD purchases by 9:30!)
Here’s a rundown of some of the cool things I found this RSD:
Baby Lips? I could not resist picking up this pink vinyl LP of hushed lullabye instrumental renditions of Flaming Lips classics. The album underscores the strong sense of pop melody within goofball tunes like “She Don’t Use Jelly.” And it lightens up the heavy load of the introspective brilliance of “Do You Realize?” to a point where no one has to cry over inevitable loss and can just focus on the glory of life in the now and here.
While we’re on The Flaming Lips, one of the hard-to-find 12-inchers in recent memory is the band’s dalliance with Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band. Four shops in SF did not get this one at all… but Amoeba LA had a bunch of ‘em! Only 2,000 of these were pressed on glow in the dark swirl vinyl, and they’re already going for more than $50 each on eBay, so go grab one if you can. It includes the song “Atlas Eets Christmas.”
Speaking of Christmas…
A surprise on the RSD list was a special Christmas album from Sony Legacy, compiling obscure blues and gospel tracks from the ’20s and ’30s from a variety of labels like OKeh and Victor. The CD has two extra tracks over the LP, and since we’re talking about transfers of old 78s, the CD will be fine for me vs. the LP. It was just $10, too! While we’re on Christmas, I also found a neat bargain for $4: a used copy of the 2005 Brian Wilson Christmas album I missed back in the day. Also found: a 2002 Wondermints album for $4 that I’ve not heard before (they are Wilson’s backing band).
I stumbled across two old Solomon Burke LP bargains: one a sweet Rhino reissue of a rare 1966 release, for just $11, replete with period-accurate blue/teal Atlantic Records label and (what feels like 180-gram) thick vinyl; the other is a white label promo of an album he did for ABC Dunhill circa 1974 for $10. I have never seen this album — I Have A Dream — before, even on CD reissues.
Also on sale at Amoeba was Bettye’s RSD-only release, a CD EP of tunes leftover from her most recent Thankful N’ Thoughtful album.
Just when I think I had them all, I find another Stylistics LP, this one from 1976, for $5.
Since Richard Thompson’s 1981 instrumental solo album was reissued by Omnivore Records, original copies begin to pop up more regularly now as collectors trade in for CDs. I found a mint LP on Thompson’s own Elixer Records label for $5!
The rare mono version of Big Brother’s classic Cheap Thrills LP on Columbia — reportedly a RSD exclusive — comes replete with original art and period-accurate red Columbia label.
Also from San Francisco, The Grateful Dead put out a limited run of LPs from their Winterland shows in 1971, same period as the classic Skull and Roses album (thus the similar varietal art).
By now you’ve read about the newly discovered lost Scepter Studios Sessions acetate of the first velvet Underground album (if not, click here to learn more):
For RSD they made 5,000 duplicates of this impossibly rare gem on vinyl… beating the pirates at their own inevitable game, and not ripping off the consumer along the way (it was just $20).
An official live show by Joe Strummer and his great last band, The Mescaleros, was out for RSD. The flimsy vinyl on Bob Dylan’s RSD 7-incher is redeemed by the inclusion of a previously unreleased Blood on the Tracks outtake circa 1974.
Cool reissues of uber-rare Captain Beefheart 45s with neat picture sleeves were available on RSD. Also, neat official Frank Zappa 7-inch 45 RPM single of a lost single with cool pic sleeve — “Why Dontcha Do Me Right?” b/w “Big Leg Emma” — yet doesnt bother trying to reproduce the original Verve labels as Sundazed might have done. Thus, value on originals are preserved!
All in all it was a great RSD. If you missed it, poke around the shops and perhaps you’ll be lucky to find some of the records you want. Otherwise, next year be sure to join in on the fun and get in line early with the rest of us crazy collectors.