Let the Great World Spin

Hey, I love turkey and dressing and that yearly screening of Shaun of the Dead (what, just me?) as much as the next guy, but the tradition that excites me most about Thanksgiving these days is what comes the day after. No, not Black Friday. I’m talking about the only thing that could get me into a store of any sort on Black Friday … and that’s Record Store Day.

Don’t know what Record Store Day is? Short answer – it’s the indie record store community’s attempt to get music lovers back to buying physical copies of music … preferably in brick and mortar shops. If you’re looking for the full story – click here for the down and dirty details. As you can see, Record Store Day is the perfect opportunity for you to shop locally and support your community – not to mention an outstanding chance to lay your hands on some seriously choice wax.

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s have a look at some of the sexier releases that’ll be hitting bins this Friday. But take note: these releases are all limited pressings. You’ll be lucky to find more than a couple of these at your favorite store this week. So if there’s a title you’re absolutely dying to add to your collection, do not sleep in. Be at that shop the second they open and thank me later.

Here’s a list of items that should be on your radar:

Neil Young – Harvest Moon (2 x LP, 5000 copies): What can we say about Neil Young’s 1992 classic that hasn’t already been said? It was Young’s 20th release as a solo artist, and some would even say it was his best. It’s no coincidence that it shares a similar title with his first (1972’s Harvest) either. Young actually got most of the original musicians (including Linda Ronstadt & James Taylor) that played on the Harvest recordings to return for this spiritual sequel. The results are equally transfixing, and spawned a handful of new classics for Young’s catalogue including ‘Unknown Legend’ and ‘Harvest Moon’. Astonishingly, this album was never released on vinyl in North America. If you’re one of those fans who’ve been waiting 25 years for your copy, now’s the time to snag it.

J Dilla’s Delights Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (one on green wax, the other on purple, 1350 copies each): Iconic producer/MC J Dilla passed away over 10 years ago. Somehow, his untimely death hasn’t been able to prevent the prolific, sample-maestro from putting new music out. Delights Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 mark the 14th and 15th posthumous releases from Dilla’s backlog of recordings. And yes, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 are actually two separate releases. So don’t be all mad at us when you gotta pay double to land both of them. Just know that you absolutely should pony up that cash to snag your own copies, ‘cause hip hop just isn’t what it used to be … and J Dilla’s music still manages to stay true to the immediacy of the form’s golden days.

Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation (2 x LP, 2500 copies): Look, if we sat you down with the intent of convincing you that 1977’s Blank Generation was the greatest punk rock album ever recorded, you’d have a lot more trouble refuting that point of view than we’d have delivering it. That’s not to say that Blank Generation actually is the greatest punk rock album ever recorded. It probably isn’t … but a pretty damn strong case could be made based on the ragged, blisteringly irreverent title track alone. That the other nine songs on Blank Generation — driven by Hell’s howling vocals and whip-smart word play, and Robert Quine’s slick but crunchier-than-thou guitar riffs — match that track in both intensity and ingenuity are all the backup we’d need. If you’re a Voidoids fan, this 40th anniversary edition — remastered with alternate takes, out-of-print songs, and live cuts from the band’s first show, and packaged with with a full color booklet — is a must have. And if you’ve never heard of The Voidoids, just know that you are not punk rock until you’ve spent a little time worshiping at the alter of the Blank Generation. Period.

Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space (1800 copies): We’re just gonna go ahead put it out there – Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock was, is and always will be the best character on Star Trek. Please understand that whether you agree or not is irrelevant. And if you do happen to disagree, well, you’re just wrong. Though we’re happy to listen to arguments in favor of Bones and maybe even Scotty — so long as we can listen to Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space while we’re talking. Comprised of a series of space-centric songs, celestial sound effects, and accompanied by Nimoy in full on Spock mode, this 1967 album sought to bring the beloved character closer to the mainstream under the guise of pop music. Like the series that spawned it, Music From Outer Space kept to the fringes and remains a campy, cult classic the likes of which Captain Kirk could only dream. It’s also been out of print since 1973. If you call yourself a Trekker, Music From Outer Space is an important piece of memorabilia. If you love Spock, it’s an absolute essential. Since we all love Spock … you get the idea. Live long and prosper, my friends.

The Autumn Defense – Circles (600 copies): Ok, let’s all take a deep breath and try to remain calm, ‘cause The Autumn Defense’s marvelous second album is finally coming back to vinyl!!! Seriously though, do not remain calm. Circles is coming back to vinyl!!! If you’re already a fan of John Stirratt and Pat Sansone’s Wilco side project, then you know exactly why you should get hype. The album has been out of print since its extremely limited original pressing way back in 2003. The 10 sunny, folky, Big Star-tinged tracks that comprise Circles remain the most complete set that The Autumn Defense has released. Until now, it’s also been the most elusive. That’s because the folks at Light in the Attic and Be With Records have spent the last few Record Store Days repressing every early Autumn Defense album except this one. Seems they’ve finally seen the light, and now we’re now preparing to battle to the death in hopes of adding Circles to our very own collection. God help you if you get in our way.

The Kills – Black Rooster (10”, 750 copies): It’s hard to fathom that The Kills have now been pumping their crunchy, glitched-out pop rock into the world for a full 15 years. Especially when you take into account guitarist Jamie “Hotel” Hince was almost forced to give up playing after smashing his hand in a car door a few years back. While the injury changed the band’s approach to music, his guitar is still the key backing element for Alison “VV” Mosshart’s penetrating voice. And The Kills have been all about that guitar + voice dynamic since they first started recording back in 2002. That was the year they recorded their first EP, Black Rooster. That EP hasn’t been pressed to vinyl in 15 years. Whether you’re a new fan of The Kills or an old card, we’re willing to bet you’re not one of the lucky few who has a copy … and that you’d be more than happy to part with some of your had earned money to have one. Now’s your chance.

Chris Bell – Complete Box Sex (6 LP set): We’re not going to sit here and preach at you about how influential Big Star was. We’re not going to tell you how pivotal Bell was to that band’s success or what an enigmatic songwriter he was. And we’re certainly not going to tell you how much was lost when Bell’s life was cut tragically short in a 1978 car accident. You either know these things or you don’t. And if you know them, then you know what an essential release this boxed set is. On the six discs inside that box you’ll find the most complete document of the artist’s recorded output ever assembled. That includes his seminal solo album I Am the Cosmos. The icing on the cake of this release is an exclusive, never released interview with Bell conducted by Barry Ballard in London circa 1975 and a 20 page booklet chock full of previously unseen photos. Look, box sets are often overrated and almost always way overpriced. This one is going to be well worth the price … whatever that may be. Do not miss out.

Wes Montgomery – In Paris: The Definitive O.R.T.F. Recordings (2 x LP, RSD Exclusive Release): When people talk about jazz guitar, they usually talk about Django Reinhardt. And well they should as Reinhardt almost single-handedly transformed the art form. But then again, so did Wes Montgomery. Though he continues to live in the shadow of Reinhardt, Montgomery’s wild solos and unorthodox playing method helped to create a style and sound all his own. That style played a vital role in cementing the guitar as an important player in the bebop movement, and it’s been emulated by nearly every jazz guitarist that came after. The Definitive O.R.T.F. Recordings documents Montgomery’s 3/27/65 set at Paris’ Theatre des Champs Elysees during his only European tour. And it looks to be a must-own for any jazz guitar aficionado.

Danny Elfman and the Knights of the Oingo Boingo – Original Soundtrack: The Forbidden Zone (1350 copies, translucent lime-green wax): Danny Elfman has spent the last 40 years or so composing some of the most original, enigmatic music in film history. Over the years, Elfman has done superhero music (Batman). He’s done TV music (Tales From the Crypt) too. He’s even been nominated for four Oscars and scored almost every film that Tim Burton ever directed. He also crafted a handful of pop hits with ’80s synth-rockers Oingo Boingo. But not many people realize the he isn’t the only Elfman with a Hollywood track record. In fact, Elfman might not have found his way to the movies without his big brother Richard – aka the writer/director of Forbidden Zone. For those of you who haven’t seen this 1980 oddity, we’ll just say that it’s really f***ing weird. It’s a must see for purveyors of cult cinema. And it’s the very first movie to feature the music of Danny Elfman — who also appears in the film … as Satan.

Willie Nelson – Yesterday’s Wine (1500 copies, burgundy colored vinyl):  These days, it’s easy to acknowledge Willie Nelson as one of the greatest country singers that ever lived. But like his contemporaries Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, that wasn’t always the case. And during the late ’60s and ’70s, Nelson was one of those artists’ considered too “outlaw” for Nashville. Sadly, that means that much of Willie’s output during that period received almost no radio play — even if some of that output stands as his most beloved. That includes his acclaimed 1973 album Yesterday’s Wine. Chock full of tender, autobiographical ballads, outlaw anthems, and gospel-tinged standards, Yesterday’s Wine may be the defining Willie Nelson album from that period. But without airplay, it didn’t sell all that well. With those sales, the album did not merit a repress. Thus, it’s been out of print for a couple of decades. Come Black Friday, you’ll finally have a chance to grab a copy of your very own. Which is nice, ‘cause who wants to live in a world where you can’t just go out and pick up a copy of any Willie Nelson album on vinyl. Not us. And neither should you.

Trust me, there’s more. If you need a butcher’s look at the complete list of releases, you can find them in this handy PDF from official RSD site. If you wanna find the closest participating record store, just click here. Then type in your city or zip code. Happy hunting, my friends.

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