10 Must-Have Record Store Day Releases
Photo By Erik Hess
Part of the reason Record Store Day has grown in popularity over the years is the wide array of exclusive releases bands put out specifically for the event. Whether it's limited 7-inches, vinyl reissues, or deluxe box sets that you set your sights on, the sheer amount of cool, unique albums that are released on Record Store Day are enough to get all types of music lovers out in droves to pick up these collectibles -- all while supporting their independent local record shops at the same time.
The list of exclusive releases this year is quite impressive and more extensive than ever before. So for your convenience, ahead of Saturday's Record Store Day, we've come up with a list of what we feel are the 10 must-haves of this year's bumper crop of RSD releases.
See also: How to Write a "Vinyl is Back!" Story
Built to Spill - Ultimate Alternate Wavers
While Built to Spill's 1993 debut album isn't their best work, the simple fact that Ultimate Alternate Wavers is being released on vinyl for the first time for its 20-year anniversary makes this record well worth seeking out. Plus, it's being pressed on gold wax specifically for Record Store Day (the lucky folks in the Pacific Northwest can even get it on green vinyl). From the hilariously endearing album art itself, to the tremulous guitar-rock anthems like "Nowhere Nothin' Fuckup," "Lie For a Lie," and the epic, guitar-fueled closer, "Built Too Long Part 1, 2 & 3," this album presents fans with the sonic origins of the ramshackle charms of Built to Spill, traits which they have adhered to throughout their two-decade-plus career.
The Pogues with Joe Strummer - Live in London
This release captures a 1991 live show by the Pogues at the Forum in London, during a time when Shane MacGowan was taking a hiatus from the band. The group called on Joe Strummer to fill in, and their creative collaboration makes this show legendary. This is the first time this performance has been released on stand-alone vinyl (it was included as part of the import-only Pogues 30 box set), with the band tearing through some Pogues classics like "Summer In Siam," "Rain Street," and "Sunny Side Of The Street," as well as the feisty Clash anthems, "London Calling," "Straight To Hell," and "Brand New Cadillac." Strummer was eventually sacked as MacGowan's temporary replacement the following year, but at least we have this live document of their potent but short-lived collaboration.
Oliver Hart - The Many Faces Of Oliver Hart or: How Eye One the Write Too Think
This 2002 solo effort by Micheal "Eyedea" Larsen is being released on vinyl for the very first time by Rhymesayers. The triple-LP -- with Eyedea recording under the moniker Oliver Hart -- is being put out on red vinyl, with an etching of the original artwork on Side F. Not only does this collection capture the inspired, rapid-fire verses of the burgeoning MC, but Mikey also recorded, mixed, and mastered the entire record at his own home studio. This was definitely a passion project for Eyedea, and the album fully expresses his artistic talents and creative vision, while sharing the spotlight with his talented friends (Slug and Carnage the Executioner among them). We lost Micheal far too soon, but his music and his legacy still lives on, especially in this stellar collection which is simply brimming with an urgent, distinctive vitality that was all Eyedea.
Otis Redding - Pain In My Heart
This 50th anniversary reissue of Otis Redding's stunning 1964 debut solo album captures the soulful, impassioned elegance of one of the best vocalists who has ever lived. This reissue features the original mono recording, and is foil stamped as well for you collectors out there. Redding helped define the Stax Records sound with his rich, sonorous vocals and stellar songwriting, and this album is packed with his stone cold early hits like "That's What My Heart Needs," "These Arms of Mine," "Pain In My Heart," "Hey Hey Baby," as well as some choice covers. All the songs are propelled by Redding's soulful vocals, as well as the top-notch Stax in-house band, which gave these songs their R&B groove. Pain In My Heart started Redding on his all-too-brief creative journey to music stardom, and his debut album still pulses with an elegance that will live on for as long as people love good music.
Phosphorescent - Song For Zula EP
Phosphorescent's catchy jam "Song For Zula" was one of the clear standouts of Matthew Houck's 2013 hazy guitar masterpiece, Muchacho. So, the inclusion of the stellar title-track makes this limited-edition EP well worth picking on those merits alone. But it's the live solo tracks that truly make this record a must-have, as Houck's brief but stunning solo session for Oregon Public Broadcasting is collected here. Matthew's fragile, emotional vocals over sparse guitar arrangements lets his haunting lyrics take on an added resonance. Houck played a pared-down version of the EP's glorious title track for the OPB session, along with other Muchacho gems, "A New Anhedonia," "Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master)," and "Down to Go," which all sound stunning and pure.
Various Artists - The Folk Box 50th Anniversary
This comprehensive 4-LP vinyl box set is a seminal release in the long history of folk music. And the 50th anniversary edition of that collection, which has been out of print for 40 years, keeps that proud tradition alive for a new generation of music fans. This new reissue also comes with a Record Store Day-only bonus 7" featuring Judy Collins' rare cover of Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep it With Mine" backed by Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind." As for the box set itself, it features songs from such folk luminaries as Woody Guthrie, Jack Elliott, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Doc Watson, and many others. The set also contains an informative 48-page booklet, including forwards written by legendary producer Jac Holzman and co-producer Ted Olson. This box set serves as an indispensable compendium of folk music that will speak to both the veterans of the scene as well as newcomers.
School Of Seven Bells - Put Your Sad Down
Sadly, School of Seven Bells bandleader (and erstwhile member of Secret Machines) Benjamin Curtis died in 2013 of T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, leaving behind an inventive musical legacy as well as legions of fans who love and miss him. The Put Your Sad Down EP was originally a tour-only collection that the band sold at their live shows in 2012, and collects five unreleased SVIIB's tracks -- the last batch of music issued by the band. Sales from this EP will benefit Curtis' foundation, which will hopefully play a small part in finding a cure for this terrible disease which took Curtis from us far too soon.
R.E.M. - Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions
This 4-LP box set features two different MTV Unplugged performances from R.E.M., recorded a decade apart in 1991 and 2001. All 33 songs from both sets are here, including many tracks that didn't make it on the original TV broadcasts, and are being released here for the first time. The 1991 performance features tracks from Out Of Time, and some older classics, as well as a lively cover of the Troggs' "Love Is All Around." While the 2001 set draws from Reveal , as well as the band's trailblazing back catalog.
Grant Hart - Every Everything/Something Something
This is a sweet vinyl/DVD package released exclusively for Record Store Day. It features Gorman Bechard's wonderful recent documentary on the legendary Hüsker Dü drummer/vocalist, Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart, and a 12" vinyl collecting Hart's music, including plenty of rare and unreleased tracks. This audio/visual collection presents an unvarnished look into Grant's creative process as well as his occasionally prickly demeanor, with plenty of archival and never-before-seen footage of his old band in their triumphant heyday. But he hasn't stopped making music, and this package is proof positive that Hart's creative well isn't close to drying up anytime soon.
The Notorious B.I.G. - Life After Death
This triple-LP reissue of B.I.G.'s final studio album is being released on clear vinyl exclusively for Record Store Day. The Grammy-nominated double album was originally released in 1997, just two weeks after Biggie's death. The record is mostly filler-free, which is rare for a late-'90s rap album, and contains B.I.G.'s distinctive, swagger-filled flow over some of the catchiest beats in the business at the time. The album was packed with confidence as well as an artistic ambition that made Christopher Wallace such a fascinating MC. "Hypnotize," "Mo Money Mo Problems," and "Sky's the Limit" are all still unquestionable bangers, and now younger hip-hop fans have the chance to listen to them on vinyl as they were meant to be heard.
Honorable Mentions: Creedence Clearwater Revival - The 1969 Singles, Nirvana - Pennyroyal Tea 7", Fishbone - Fishbone, Spaceman 3 - Translucent Flashbacks, Spoon - Loveways EP, Taang! Records - The First 10 Singles, The Velvet Underground - Loaded, Brian Jonestown Massacre / The Magic Castles Split 12", Chvrches - Recover EP, Sam Cooke - Ain't That Good News, Foals - Live at Royal Albert Hall, Grateful Dead - Live at Hampton Coliseum, Hüsker Dü - Candy Apple Grey, J Spaceman & Kid Millions - Live at La Poisson Lounge, Mastodon - Live at Brixton
Now, clearly these selections represent only a small sample of the hundreds of exclusive releases for Record Store Day. Check the complete list for the rest of the records on offer and find plenty of other gems that will find their way into your collection.
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