Flowers are blooming, cars are swamped with pollen, and Reese’s peanut butter eggs are lining the shelves of grocery stores everywhere. Yep, Spring has officially sprung my friends, and that can mean only one thing … it’s almost time for Record Store Day 2019!!!
Don’t know what Record Store Day is? Short answer — it’s a sort of vinyl holiday conceived by the indie record store community to get music lovers back into brick and mortar record shops. If you want to know the full story, just click here. If you’re already in the know, you understand full well that Record Store Day is the perfect excuse to shop local and support you neighborhood economy, and that it’s also a chance to lay your hands on some seriously choice, and seriously limited wax.
Now that we’re all up to speed, let’s have a look at some of the slicker releases hitting bins this weekend. But before we do, we’d just like to remind you that official Record Store Day releases are all limited pressings. That means you’ll be lucky to find more than a few copies of each disc at your corner record store on the day. So if there’s a title you’re absolutely frothing over, make sure you’re up early and queuing at that store before their doors open.
Once you’ve copped a spot in line, these are just a few of the releases you might want to cop for your collection:
Jeff Tweedy Warmer (RSD Exclusive, 5000 copies)
You might know Jeff Tweedy as the record producer of albums for acts like Low, White Denim, and Mavis Staples. You might also know him as one-third of experimental rock group Loose Fur, or possibly as co-founder of iconic alt-country outfit Uncle Tupelo. Odds are you know Jeff Tweedy as the frontman of the beloved, shape-shifting rock band Wilco. However you know him, it’s safe to say Tweedy has become one of the most prolific artists in the biz over his 30-plus year career.
Prior to the release of Tweedy’s gloriously folky Warm last year, the one hat Jeff Tweedy had never worn was that of solo artist. Not surprisingly, Warm more than proved Tweedy’s songwriting was incisive and effervescent with or without a full band. To prove that fact, this Record Store Day will see the songsmith release a companion album to Warm. Titled simply Warmer, this RSD Exclusive will include 10 unreleased songs from the Warm recording sessions, which makes it an absolute must-own for any fan of Tweedy’s work — which should include all of you, for the record, ‘cause Jeff Tweedy is a g****mn American treasure.
Johnny Thunders – Que Sera Sera Resurrected (RSD First, 2LP, 1400 copies, Purple/White vinyl)
I like to pretend that more than five or so people read these twice yearly Record Store Day pieces. If that’s not the case, and it is just the five of you beautiful, beautiful people reading these articles, you know that Johnny Thunders is my all-time fave guitarist. As such, any and every RSD release with Thunders’ name on it is automatically on my list of must-own additions. And since there seems to be a new Johnny Thunders release virtually every single Record Store Day of late, I’ve subjected you marvelous readers to more than a few words on Thunders’ sleazy sort of genius.
With that, I’ll now apologize to all of you for again berating you about what a game-changing guitarist Thunders was via his work with New York Dolls, and his gritty punk rock group Heartbreakers. You should know that Thunders’ three proper solo projects are just as impressive. Amongst those releases, his 1985 album Que Sera, Sera is the oft overlooked gem (minus the rocking but lyrically misguided “Little Bit Of Whore”), and this so-called Resurrected edition — complete with a full album of bonus material, fresh liner notes, and never before seen photographs — proves Que Sera, Sera not just an album worthy of all the bells and whistles this pressing boasts, but an absolute necessity for the collection of any true punk fan.
Aretha Franklin – The Atlantic Singles 1967 (RSD Exclusive, 7” single box set, 4500 copies)
One of the coolest things about Record Store Day is that it encourages record labels to get creative and have some fun with their releases. Often, that means expanded editions of an album, or pressing their release on colored wax. Some labels get a little more creative than others, though, and 2019 sees Atlantic Records going all out with their release of The Atlantic Singles 1967 via trailblazing soul goddess Aretha Franklin.
Just FYI — 1967 saw Franklin release “Respect,” “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You),” “A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel),” “Baby I Love You,” and “Chain of Fools.” While a track list like that might make a career for most, it was but a single year for Franklin. Atlantic is rightly celebrating that banner year by releasing those tracks not as a boring “greatest hits” compilation, but as a boxed set of five separate 7” singles, which is unassailably cool. And if you worship at the altar of Aretha like the rest of the world, well, you’re gonna want to spin all five of these beauties for yourself.
Alexander “Skip” Spence – AndOarAgain (RSD Exclusive, 3Lp set, 1350 copies)
There are albums that instantly earn their spot in the annals of rock history as a vital document of a time, or a style, or a scene that helped shaped the genre. First released in 1969, amidst the burgeoning California psych-rock scene, the lone solo release from Alexander “Skip” Spence (who cut his teeth with lauded psych-groups Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, and Moby Grape) is not one of them. In fact — save for a few hipper-than-hip scenesters — Spence’s haunting, psychedelic folk masterpiece Oar was all but lost to history after its release.
Luckily, those savvy scenesters spent the next couple of decades beating the drum of Oar’s excellence, and in the decades since, they’ve made Spence’s beautifully spaced-out album a covet-worthy crate digger for psych-rock diehards. On the path to earning that status, Oar has even garnered a couple of coveted re-issues to boot. Those reissues will pale in comparison to this new 3 x LP release from the folks at Modern Harmonic. We’ll say nothing more of the release except that it features nearly two full hours of unheard music and alternate takes from Oar’s recording sessions, and that should be enough to have even the most fickle of psych-rock fans wiping drool from their chin.
Dragonfly – Dragonfly (RSD Limited/Regional, 500 copies)
Now, another really cool thing about Record Store Day is if you’re on the hunt to find something truly out there or unique to add to your collection, there are dozens of releases that fit that bill (seen anything Graveface Records has ever released for RSD). With that said, I wholly encourage you to do a little bit of digging and find some band or album you’ve never heard, pick up a super limited pressing of it, and have some fun discovering a sound that may be a little outside your wheelhouse.
If you’re having trouble deciding on which unknown oddity to take home with you on the big day, I hope you’ll allow me the chance to point you in the direction of Dragonfly’s wondrous 1968 psychedelic/prog-rock debut, Dragonfly. I’ll cop to knowing next to nothing about this band, but according to folks in the know, this largely unheralded oddity is regarded as one of the heaviest psych albums recorded circa ’68. It’s a safe bet then that Dragonfly is every bit the fuzz-fueled face melter advertised. Most people don’t know that, of course, ‘cause even with a 2012 reissue, Dragonfly remains a hard to find disc. Given that Sunbeam Records is only releasing 500 copies of the newly remastered pressing (complete with gatefold sleeve, rare photos of the band, and a bonus 7” single), it’s going to remain that way, so make sure you find one for yourself.
Original Soundtrack Ghost World (RSD First, 2LP, 650 copies, Blue vinyl)
He hasn’t made a feature film since 2006’s satirical misfire Art School Confidential, but there was a time when Terry Zwigoff was considered one of the most original and exciting voices in independent cinema. He earned that rep on the strength of the 1994 documentary Crumb, which examined the life and career of cult cartoonist Robert Crumb, and his Oscar nominated followup, the caustic quirk-fest that was 2001’s Ghost World.
If you’ve seen either film, you know that the music is vital to the narrative, hyper-specific, and plays a big part of setting the tone throughout. In Ghost World, however, music is practically a character in and of itself — if only because one of the central characters is a die-hard record collector with a taste for rare blues and jazz discs from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Like I said, hyper-specific. Ranging from obscure Bollywood bangers to moody blues stunners to swinging jazz standards, so too are the 20 tracks that form Zwigoff’s soundtrack for Ghost World.
I’d like to say a little more here, but all you really need to know about this FIRST EVER vinyl pressing of this soundtrack is that even if you haven’t seen Ghost World, it’s still a treasure trove of timeless music that’s certain to satisfy jazz/blues hardcores and neophytes alike.
Original Soundtrack Lost In Translation (RSD Exclusive, 8000 copies, Violet colored vinyl)
While that Ghost World soundtrack is certain to have the attention of a particular set of cineastes and aficionados, it’s a different Scarlett Johansson flick that’s likely got soundtrack hounds absolutely salivating. The film in question is Sofia Coppola’s absolutely flawless, Bill Murray co-starring romantic drama Lost In Translation.
Now, I’m assuming that you have a beating heart in your chest, and as such, you’ve probably already seen Lost In Translation like a dozen times or so. If not, go see it straight away, ‘cause it’s the sort of quasi-romantic fable that’s guaranteed to get that crusty old blood pumping through your veins. Either way, you’ll know about five minutes into Lost In Translation that 1) each song in the film is meticulously curated, and 2) each one was selected in service of bolstering the film’s ever shifting flood of moods and palettes.
You’re also quite likely to conclude that said tracks — replete with tracks from My Bloody Valentine, Death In Vegas, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Phoenix, Air, and more — make a playlist more than worthy listening to sans the visual elements of Coppola’s film. Sadly, with just a substandard original pressing from 2003, and a (surprisingly decent but limited) 2008 Japanese bootleg to choose from, vinyl fans really haven’t had great options to spin that playlist at home. Here’s hoping this new pressing from Rhino finally gives this soundtrack the release it deserves.
Devo – This Is The Devo Box Set (RSD Exclusive, 6LP set, each LP on different color vinyl)
Did I already mention that some record labels really go all out with their RSD releases? Like full on boxed set all out? Not to be done by Atlantic’s killer Aretha Franklin singles box (and upping the ante after RSD Black Friday’s excellent Devo picture disc release), the folks at Rhino are giving Devo fans this sprawling six LP box set containing the legendary art-rock band’s releases between 1978 and 1984.
Don’t worry if you missed out on that picture disc pressing last year, their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (produced by Brian Eno) is included in this box. Like the other five albums inside, it’ll be pressed on a different color variant specific to the album’s individual sleeve, and housed in a shiny deluxe box … ‘cause that’s what makes it a box set. All told, this wildly over the top release seems only fitting for Devo, a band who — through their complex combo of heady-yet-playful lyricism, jangly post-punk guitars, electronic noodling, and synth heavy sorcery — never really cared where the perceived top was. With this kick ass box set, it’s safe to say that their legions of fans never will either.
Captain Beefheart – Trout Mask Replica (RSD First, 2LP)
Now, If there’s an artist on this list that demands I waste a few dozen words on their importance, it’s the one and only Don Van Vliet — AKA Captain Beefheart. For the record, I’m not going to subject you to that many words, because the only way to fully understand why Captain Beefheart is so freaking essential (he was buds with Frank Zappa when they were teens if that’s any indication) is to sit the hell down and listen to a couple of Beefheart albums for yourself.
Just as a bit of fair warning, I should tell you that Captain Beefheart’s bluesy, jazz-tinged, garage rock experiments are a bit of an acquired taste. I should also tell you beyond a doubt that once you’ve acquired it, you’ll be craving the man’s eclectic grooves til the day you die, ‘cause those grooves are heavier, cooler, and way more out there than anything his old pal Zappa produced.
There’s no time like the present to bring Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band into the light. And if you’re just dipping your toes into Beefheart’s choppy waters, his eccentric 1969 oddity Trout Mask Replica is a damn fine place to start. That Jack White’s Third Man Records is giving you the chance to do that with Trout Mask Replica’s first vinyl pressing in a decade — freshly remastered on 180g wax no less — is a welcome gift for Beefheart and vinyl lovers everywhere.
Charlie Parker – With Strings: The Alternate Takes (RSD First, 2500 copies, Bright Blue vinyl)
As is the case with any Record Store Day, there are some seriously sexy jazz releases hitting shelves this year. But there’s really only one that you simply cannot walk out of your record store this weekend without, and it’s Verve’s first ever vinyl release of legendary sax man Charlie “Bird” Parker’s Charlie Parker With Strings: The Alternate Takes.
What’s the big deal you ask? It’s a never released on vinyl album from “Bird,” daddy-o, that’s the big deal. Now, if there’s a single artist on this list that shouldn’t require me to waste a bunch of words on their historical importance it’s Charlie Parker, because you should already know that he’s one of the most innovative and important figures in the history of jazz music. And if you don’t know that, well, it’s high time you f***ing learned, ‘cause “Bird” really is one of the most innovative and important figures in the history of jazz music.
If you’re already a fan, you may well own a copy of Parker’s Charlie Parker With Strings, which remains his all time best-selling release. To celebrate the album’s 70th anniversary, Verve is releasing this deluxe edition collection of alternate takes from the original recording sessions. So yeah, if you love “Bird,” or just love jazz in general, your record collection is very much incomplete without this utterly essential document from a legit jazz icon.
Trust me, there’s more. I mean, I didn’t even mention the killer Otis Redding w/ Booker T. & The M.G.’s and the Mar-Keys release culled from Redding’s legendary Monterey Pop Festival set in 1967, or that first ever vinyl release of Star’s marvelous, indie pop e.p. Sad Robots (on Sea Foam Green vinyl), or those fresh reissues of psych classics from Pink Floyd (Saucerful Of Secrets) and 13th Floor Elevators (S/T debut). But hey, part of the fun of going to record stores is discovering things for yourself. And you might just discover that something new in the full list of this year’s release (available via this handy PDF). If you’re not sure where to find the closest participating store, just click here. Happy hunting, my friends!