The global pandemic might be showing signs of winding down, normality is almost in view, but this year’s Record Store Day — June 12 — still takes on extra significance. If independent retail shopping was suffering before 2020 thanks to Amazon, etc, things only got rougher in lockdown. So while a virtual RSD would still appear to be the smart approach, these beloved stores need our support. Find the full list at recordstoreday.com. Meanwhile, here are some of the RSD-exclusive releases that tickled our fancy (again, more can be found at the website).
In Los Angeles, Minky Records have done the legacy of late L.A. punk legend Jeffrey Lee Pierce proud with two spectacular vinyl releases. The first is a “vault discovery,” a lost solo recording called Soulsuckers on Parade which Minky has put out on beautiful green vinyl (we can’t hide our affection for colored vinyl). Recorded in 1984 at L.A.’s Control Center, Pierce’s band included Dave Alvin (X, the Blasters, the Flesh Eaters), Bill Bateman (Cramps, the Blasters, the Flesh Eaters, and Kid Congo, among others. The album offers a wonderful opportunity to revisit the wild, unhinged, cowpunk glory of the Gun Club founder. Surrounded by friends and home comforts, Pierce riffs and even jams like a punk Doors.
The second Minky release is a 45 called Ruby Sessions by Pierce’s band the Gun Club, featuring two previously unreleased tracks from their debut album — “Fire of Love” and “Bad Indian.” Much like the solo album, the release offers further insight into Pierce’s wild mind. Newcomers should go on and check out more Gun Club. Long-time fans get to enjoy new versions of old faves.
Hard rockers Triumph have been named the Candian ambassadors for Record Store Day, and they’ve treated us to a deluxe 40th anniversary boxed set of their 1981 album Allied Forces via Round Hill Records. The set includes the album on vinyl, a live record and a 7” single, plus various books posters, and goodies. The album has dated well — big anthems and bigger riffs. “We’re extremely proud of Allied Forces,” bassist Mike Levine said via a press release. “It was the record that started the global rocket ride for us and we’re also excited to share with our fans some really great moments from our archives with this boxset.”
God bless the Rolling Stones, who are releasing a concert film of their 2006 free show at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 9. For Record Store Day, they have a gorgeous 10” single on clear vinyl, featuring a song from that gig and another from Salt Lake City. “It was amazing,” recalls Mick Jagger of Rio. “It was a really good audience. They know how to enjoy themselves on those occasions.” The Rio song is “Rain Fall Down,” an enthusiastic blues-rock number from 2005’s A Bigger Bang, which sees the band and crowd carrying each other. Side B is “Rough Justice” from the same album, recorded in Salt Lake City. Of the two, this is the better song — a heavier, livelier rocker. But still both sound great and the packaging is awesome (the lips logo on the front is painted in the Brazillian flag).
Craft Recordings have a sweet selection ready to drop for RSD, including titles by John Martyn, Celia Cruz and Willie Colón, Jonathan Richman, O.A.R., Kenny Dorham, Lamb of God, and the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Highlights include the 15th anniversary rerelease of Evanescence’s The Open Door. The album was a Billboard number one hit back in 2006, and now it’s been given the heavy vinyl treatment. Gray marbled vinyl, no less. Their chunky riffs already sound a tad dated, and the songs aren’t as remembered as those on the debut, but still there’s plenty to enjoy here. Songs like “Call Me When You’re Sober” see Amy Lee getting super-personal.
1960’s rockers the Zombies might be best known for the “Time of the Season” single, but the likes of Tom Petty, Paul Weller, and the Bangles were influenced by the Brit psychedelic band. The Oddities and Extras record was previously only available as part of the Complete Studio Recordings 5 LP set, but Craft has put it out for RSD. Ambitious early tunes like “She’s Coming Home” and chart botherers like “I Want You Back Again” make for a fascinating listen.
Dedicated to You: Lowrider Love is a compilation of songs from between 1956 and 1972, mostly from the ‘60s, that highlight the heartfelt croon tunes of the Chicano lowrider scene which developed in L.A. The Sheppards, Ralfi Pagan, the Harvey Averne Dozen and Gene Chandler might not be household names, but that’s all the more reason to dip in and explore a criminally underappreciated side of Los Angeles’ musical history. More, the automobile artwork is super-cool, as is the smokey clear-and-black vinyl (we don’t know if it’s supposed to look like exhaust fumes, but it kinda does).
A fascinating collaboration sees punk barbers the Cutthroat Brothers join forces with Minutemen/Stooges man Mike Watt for an album called The King is Dead which gets a special RSD vinyl release. It’s swampy yet catchy and groovy and fuck, recalling the likes of the Cramps, the Gun Clun and yes, the Stooges.
Death Row Records is putting out a very pretty rerelease of the soundtrack to the basketball movie Above the Rim on yellow and orange vinyl (plus a nostalgia-inducing cassette tape). Suge Knight was the executive producer on the soundtrack back in ‘94, with Dre acting as supervising producer. The result is a bright, chill and occasionally bouncing album. If you haven’t seen the film, starring, among others, 2Pac, Bernie Mac, and Marlon Wayans, it’s well worth a look. The soundtrack suits it perfectly, and this new package is awesome.
Passion River will release the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the excellent documentary Punk the Capital for Record Store Day. Tracing the roots of punk rock in Washington D.C. and its evolution into hardcore, the movie covers an exciting seven-year period between 1976 and ’83. The big names are all included — Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and Henry Rollins specifically. But the real joy of the film is the equal billing it gives to the many other bands of the time and their cultural impact. Even if you’re not from D.C., this is a thrilling account of an important musical movement, and how it took off in the nation’s capital surrounded by government. ❖