Yeah, yeah, yeah, traditions like noshing on some turkey and dressing, and trying not to nod off while spending some time with the people we love on Thanksgiving are all well and good, but the holiday tradition that matters most to vinyl hounds the world over actually comes the day after. No, I’m not talking about black Friday. Well, not exactly. The tradition I’m actually talking about is the Black Friday edition of 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 records that should be on your radar:
The Flaming Lips – The Mushroom Tapes (RSD Exclusive)
The Flaming Lips have been major players on Record Store Day almost since the inception of the event back in 2008. Over the years, the band has delivered some of the day’s most covet-worthy releases, including a solid chocolate skull that accompanied their 2014 RSD offering, craft beer inspired music with 2018’s release, and of course the coupe-de-gras was the band’s 2013 release, a cover of The Stone Roses iconic, self-titled debut album. This year, the band is offering another covet worry piece in the guise of The Mushroom Tapes, which is a collection of demos that beget their legendary In a Priest Driven Ambulance album. If you call yourself a fan of The Flaming Lips, well, pick your jaw up off the floor and make sure you get your ass to the record store on Friday so you can cop your own.
The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo (4LP, 2000 copies)
Odds are, you know The Byrds as the iconic David Crosby-fronted band that pushed the sound of rock music into bold new territories throughout the ‘60s, fusing crunchy folk rock ditties and psychedelic rock to forge a sound all but unheard of prior to their existence. You probably know that they tended to deliver those songs with just the faintest edge of country twang to boot. Following Crosby’s departure from the group in 1967, the creative influence of psych/country/rock icon Gram Parsons took control of The Byrds sound, and in doing so pushed the band further into the realm of pure country than they’d ever gone before.
The resulting album was aptly titled Sweetheart of the Rodeo. While it remains The Byrds album that sounds least like The Byrds, it also remains one of their finest releases. To be clear, if you own only one album by The Byrds, it should probably be their Crosby-fronted debut The Notorious Byrd Brothers. But if you own two, you could do a lot worse than this remastered 4LP release of Sweetheart of the Rodeo from Sony Legacy choc full of too many extras to even begin to list.
Cannonball Adderly – Swingin’ In Seattle (2LP, 1800 copies, RSD Exclusive)
Every Record Store Day brings with it a handful of jazz releases that more than deserve a place amongst any vinyl nut’s collection. This year is no different, though the most essential jazz release this year comes from one of jazz-canon’s more overlooked saxophonists … the one and only Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, just know that Adderley was one of the seminal purveyors of the hard bop sound of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Know that he cut his teeth working with Miles Davis, playing alongside Davis and John Coltrane on the legendary album Kind of Blue. And know that Adderley went on to become a genuine jazz ingenue in his own right, even if history tends to paint him in somewhere in the background.
Culled from previously unreleased live recordings taken just one week prior to the recording of Adderley’s own classic Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, Swingin’ In Seattle finds the altoist at the height of his creative powers, playing Seattle’s legendary Pentouse Club with his own sextet to a savvy crowd who knew just how special an evening they were a part of. If you’re already familiar with Adderley’s charms, then this 2lp release with extensive liner notes and behind the scenes pictures is and absolute must own. If you’ve never experienced the man’s work, then Swingin’ In Seattle is certain to be a most worthy jumping in point.
Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (Picture Disc, 5000 copies)
History has routinely painted Devo as one of the weirdest bands that ever existed. They were also one of the most innovative and often misunderstood acts of the ‘70s and ’80s … even if they were also one of the most surprisingly successful acts of the time. For the record, yes this is the same Devo who donned the Christmas Tree stand hats in the iconic video for ‘80s staple Whip It. It’s also the same Devo whose rangy debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! remains one of the great art rock albums of the era.
We’re guessing you’ve probably never heard Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! before. That’s ok, most people don’t get past ‘Whip It’ when talking about Devo. But it really is one of the more overlooked recordings form the late ‘70s, combining jangly, rigid rock music with wild electronic flourishes, and heady, vivid themes of the de-evolution of mankind itself to deliver an electrifyingly original sound that was both of the times and decades ahead of it. One that was shepherded through production by none other than Mr. Brian Eno. So yeah, if you’ve never heard Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, there really is no time like the present.
Jose Gonzalez – Veneer (15th Anniversary Edition, 2LP, Olive Green/Grey Vinyl, 1800 copies, RSD Exclusive)
Most music lovers know Jose Gonzalez as the enigmatic frontman of Sweden’s experimental, folky indie rock outfit Junip. And if you are familiar with Junip, you’ve probably sought out one or two of Gonzalez’s solo efforts as well. As such, I won’t waste time by heaping extra praise on either. Just know that your record collection is really not complete if you don’t have at least one of Gonzalez’s recorded efforts in it.
Now that you know your collection has a glaring, Jose Gonzalez-shaped hole in it, I’m happy to inform you that on this Black Friday edition of Record Store Day, you’ll have a chance to fill that void with one of the man’s most sought after releases in his 2006 solo debut, Veneer. Yes, I know that the album has been in steady print since its release, but not like this. Pressed on olive-green and light gray wax, this two disc, 15th anniversary reissue is not only sporting a remastered version of Veneer (which features Gonzalez’ astonishing cover of The Knife’s “Heartbeats”), but also a first ever vinyl pressing of his 2007 EP Stay In The Shade, previously available in digital formats only. Trust me when I say that should be of importance to any fan of Junip or Gonzalez.
Madonna – Ray of Light (2LP, Clear Vinyl)
I could call her the greatest, most influential pop artist of all time. I could call her a chameleonic stylist and boundary-pushing musician who routinely (often flagrantly) fronted a true, girl power-centric ownership of her sexuality. I could also call her a middling actor who was great in Dick Tracy and not much else. I’m not gonna do any of that though, ‘cause there is quite literally nothing we can say about Madonna that hasn’t already been said … even less so about the music that made her famous in the first place.
Of that music, I should say that it’s been propelling both her admirers and her haters to bust a move on dance-floors across the planet since the ‘80s. Still, it wasn’t really until 1998’s electrifying Ray of Light, however, that Madonna made a full-blown dance album. A comeback album of sorts for Madonna, Ray of Light was produced and co-written by legendary producer William Orbit, and mined influences from trip hop to straight up techno to deliver a sound born of late-’90s dance floors, but not quite like anything those dance floors had heard before. Needless to say, Ray of Light was a big hit. Twenty years after its release, it remains Madonna’s last true masterpiece. And come Black Friday, you can have your very own copy on crystal clear vinyl.
Ramones – Live In Glasgow: December 19, 1977 (2LP, 180g vinyl, Numbered Edition, RSD Exclusive)
On the topic of artists whose music needs no additional commentary, the work of Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy (aka the Ramones) is high on the list. They are, after all, one of the few punk bands from the New York scene of the ‘70s whose music has not only persevered through the decades, but actually continues to draw waves of new admirers with each passing generation. To the punk set, their reputation for musical ingenuity and aesthetic genius is utterly impeachable. To the popular music set, well, ditto.
As you might expect, that sort of rep has led to their music being pressed and repressed on vinyl with staggering regularity. Somehow the chance to repress the band’s third album Rockets To Russia on waxy for its 40th anniversary last year was missed, though a killer three-CD release did eventually find its way into stores. The third disc in that release featured a never-released, multi-track recording of the band’s rollicking live set from Glasgow in 1977. A set that featured the group ripping through tracks from their iconic first three records, and a set that you can now hear in the comfort of your own living room … assuming of course you get your ass to a record store early enough. Seriously, do not sleep on this release.
Mom+Pop Records – 10th Anniversary Compilation (3LP, 1800 copies, RSD First Release)
Generally, I’m not a big fan of compilation releases celebrating the great taste of a record label. But then, few record labels have displayed as consistently great taste over the years as New York-based indie label Mom+Pop Records. To celebrate their 10th birthday, the folks at Mom+Pop have put together a sweeping collection of songs culled from the catalogs of some of their biggest artists, and I cannot recommend enough that you pick up a copy for yourself.
Just so you know, that list of artists includes such indie stalwarts as Courtney Barnett, Neon India, Sleigh Bells, Tom Morello, Metric, Andrew Bird, Lady Lamb, and Tokyo Police Club. This 3LP comp will feature indie hits, killer covers, and unheard rarities from that stable of artists and more. It’ll also feature a 36 page booklet detailing the complete history of Mom+Pop from inception to current day, a limited edition Mom+Pop poster, and an MP3 download of the entire release. So you say you love indie rock? Prove it by going all in on this sure to satisfy release.
The Breeders – Safari EP (12” EP, 2000 copies, RSD Exclusive)
Few bands left quite an indelible mark on the late-’80s/early-’90s indie rock scene as the Pixies. Needless to say that when the band officially called it quits after the release of six staggeringly original albums between 1987 and 1991, a crater opened up in the scene that literally no band could fill. Luckily, the band’s individual members all seemed to have a few other pokers in the proverbial fire when the Pixies finally disbanded, with frontman/guitarist Black Francis heading straight into a solo career, and bassist/vocalist Kim Deal giving her full attention to a side project of her own.
Dubbed the Breeders, that project was a full-blown band Deal had started with her twin sister Kelley and Throwing Muses guitarist/future Belly ingenue Tanya Donelly. Their sound was a savvy blend of crunchy guitars, twisted pop sensibility, and impish quirk that helped make their debut album Pod one of 1990’s best. Prior to the band’s second album, the platinum-selling Last Splash, Donelly had left the band to form Belly, leaving Kelley Deal to pick up the guitar work that helped make “Cannonball” a smash hit single.
Between the release of those two albums, the Breeders recorded the four song Safari ep, which happens to be the only Breeders release to feature both Deal’s and Donelly. Simply put, Safari is as kick ass a collection of ‘90s alt-rock numbers as you’d expect from the band. It’s also been out of print since 1992, which makes this long overdue repress a must own for fans of the era.
Ofege – The Last of the Origins (600 copies, 1st ever official reissue, RSD Limited Run)
Here’s the thing, you probably don’t know much about the psych/garage rock scene that took control across Africa in the 1970s. But you should. I mean, you really, really should, because the ingeniously harmonious, hook friendly, funk-twisted, fuzz-fueled guitar rock that was coming out of that continent during the decade is nothing short of transcendent.
Of the bands that were rocking their way across Africa over that period, few were as rocking, as funky, or as much fun as Nigeria’s Ofege. So here’s the thing, I’m not gonna bore you with any more details about the band, or their surprisingly complex approach to psychedelic rock, or about their sophomore albums The Last of the Origins. I’m just going to tell you that the album (recorded while the band members were still in high school) is one you need to hear to understand, that it’s been out of print since 1976, and that this super-limited, official repressing is the very reason that Record Store Day should be on your list of things to do on Black Friday.
Trust me, there’s more. I didn’t even mention that the Stooges Rare Power release (which collects unheard selections from the recording of the iconic album Raw Power), or the Original Soundtrack release of Jim Henson’s 1977 Christmas/puppet classic Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. But hey, part of the fun of going to record stores is maybe discovering some little band or some silly song that might just change your life. And you might just discover something new in the full list of the year’s releases (available in this handy PDF). If you wanna find the closest participating record store, just click here. Happy hunting, my friends.