After 11 years, it's understandable how some view Record Store Day in the same light as going out drinking on St. Patrick's Day. Yet despite the cynical stance many have taken on the April quasi-holiday, it's an event that still underlines the importance of physical music ownership in an era where that's waning even as vinyl sales steadily increase.
Record Store Day, for all its insider baseball foibles, remains a beacon of promise that flies in the face of the idea that nobody buys hard copies of the music they love anymore. There's nothing quite like the ritual of picking away at that vulnerable corner of the cellophane on a brand new vinyl record and hearing the static as you carefully remove the fresh wax from its paper sleeve. The day has also created community among vinyl enthusiasts -- there are curated Record Store Day Crawls across the country (and if you don't want to leave home, Red Bull Radio is airing 24 hours of Counter Intelligence, which spotlights brick-and-mortar vinyl stores across the globe).
And while some may never get past the capitalistic aspects of Record Store Day, here are 25 reasons why it's still very much worth braving the amateur hour element of this coming Saturday.
1. Eurythmics — 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) (Legacy Recordings)
Coming off two back-to-back hit LPs in 1983 with Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and Touch, Eurythmics followed up a banner year by creating a moody, artful soundtrack to Michael Radford’s film adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four that the filmmaker disliked so much he wound up commissioning an orchestra score to be used in the director’s cut of the movie. Listening to 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) more than 30 years later is a revelation in the chemistry that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had not only as a songwriting duo but as a composing team as well, counterbalancing anxious, pulsing instrumentals with pop tunes like the controversial-in-America single “Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)” and the ballad “Julia.” Considered to be one of the duo’s personal favorites in their discography, this vinyl reissue is only available in the United States, where its soundscapes are more relevant than ever before.
2. Madonna — You Can Dance (Sire Records)
Being how Madonna got her start in the clubs of New York City, the release of her first remix album back in 1987 was definitely a fond tip of the hat to her disco roots as she turned a corner on her own ascent into pop superstardom in the mid-80s. With a primary focus on the hits from her eponymous debut LP (which is also being reissued for Record Store Day as a replica of a rare 1983 Japanese import picture disc), You Can Dance saw Madge working with some of the best producers and remixers of the moment including Jellybean Benitez, Nile Rodgers, David Cole of C + C Music Factory and Shep Pettibone to reimagine songs like “Holiday,” “Everybody” and “Into The Groove” before moving on to her Like A Prayer period, which cemented her place on '80s pop’s Mt. Rushmore.
3. Bobbie Gentry — Live at the BBC (Universal Music Enterprises)
Few songs in the American pop songbook are as haunting as Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” the ballad about a mysterious something thrown off the Tallahatchie Bridge in Mississippi and the boy who followed suit the very next day. The song spent four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 in August of 1967 and would be followed up with a prolific succession of acclaimed albums that abruptly ended in 1971 with the release of her sixth and final full-length Patchwork. By the early 1980s, Gentry vanished from public life and remains in self-imposed reclusion to this very day at age 73. Her elusive nature makes this complete performance on the BBC in 1968, a taste of which can be seen on YouTube via this particularly resonant version of “Billie Joe” that recently leaked out, one of the must-have highlights of this Record Store Day weekend, especially for the fans who still pine for the unlikely comeback of Chickasaw’s quintessential queen of country.
4. Car Seat Headrest — Twin Fantasy (Matador)
One of the best albums to emerge from 2018 so far is Will Toledo’s fully recalibrated version of the sixth self-released LP from his one-man-band Car Seat Headrest. In 2018, Twin Fantasy has been transformed into a freewheeling fantasia of AOR boogie and diary entry sentimentalism, an album you can imagine the likes of Marc Bolan or Chris Bell releasing had they come of age in the era of social media. But lest we forget the OG version of Fantasy, which since its initial release on November 2, 2011 has been downloaded over 33,000 times via BandCamp, it is now commemorated in the form of its very first reissue on vinyl for Record Store Day in a limited edition run of 4,000 copies that Ric Ocasek can’t touch this time.
5. Red Kross — Third Eye (ORG Music)
Back in 1990, it seemed like Atlantic Records was willing to sign any band from Los Angeles with long hair and hot licks. But while Redd Kross might have looked like some hippie glam cousins of Enuff Z’Nuff on the cover of their 1990 major label debut Third Eye, their penchant for jangly psychedelia and deep roots in the L.A. punk community set them far apart from labelmates like Ratt, Winger and Mr. Big. They might not have landed on Dial MTV, but the Brothers McDonald certainly did establish a rabid cult following on college radio along with Jellyfish and fellow Atlantic Records misfits The Lemonheads at the time. This RSD edition of Third Eye, pressed on green vinyl, marks a long overdue return to a prefab alt-rock classic.
6. David Bowie — David Bowie (Universal)/Let’s Dance (full-length demo)/Welcome to the Blackout/Bowie Now (Parlophone)
It’s still so difficult to fathom the idea we have gone two years without David Bowie walking among us on this planet. But lucky for us fans this coming Record Store Day provides a windfall of Bowie-related releases. First up is the Duke’s 1967 debut album available for first time on heavyweight red and blue colored vinyl courtesy of Universal Music Enterprises. This 2LP set features the mono version of the album on disc one and the stereo version on disc two. Then from Parlophone comes a trio of exciting titles, including Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78), a previously unreleased 3xLP set featuring recordings from Bowie’s Isolar II tour performances at London’s Earls Court on June 30 and July 1, 1978. The next release is a 12" single that includes Bowie and Nile Rodgers’ full-length demo version of the 1983 megahit “Let’s Dance,” as well as a live version of the song on the flipside from the beloved Serious Moonlight concert film that we can only hope will be reissued at some point in the near future. Then there’s Bowie Now, a rare 1977 U.S. only promotional-only LP, which is now receiving its first commercial release featuring tracks from Bowie’s Low and “Heroes” albums and pressed on white vinyl with a newly designed inner sleeve with black and white images taken in Berlin by Corinne Schwab.
7. Neil Young — Roxy - Tonight’s The Night Live (Reprise)
The latest physical title in the Neil Young Archives collection comes from a pair of dates with the guitarist’s backing band the Santa Monica Flyers in September of 1973. It was the first set of concerts at the fabled Sunset Strip rock club The Roxy, and Young tested out the new digs by playing nine of the twelve songs he and his band had been working on in the studio that would comprise his classic 1975 album Tonight's the Night in addition to “Walk On” from the equally indispensable 1974 LP On the Beach. Roxy – Tonight's the Night Live was one of the last projects produced by Young with his longtime collaborator David Briggs, and will be released worldwide on April 27. But the Record Store Day edition of the 2LP set will feature an etching on its fourth side as well as a print of Young and his band in action at the Roxy, easily making it the version to own if you are a Neil diehard.
8. The Police — Roxanne (Universal Music Enterprises)
This April marks the 40th anniversary of A&M Records’ release of “Roxanne,” the first single from the debut album by The Police, Outlandos d'Amour. It would be re-released a year later in 1979, where it found success on the UK charts. But that initial 7” single, with the red telephone on the cover, dialing holes on the gatefold sleeve and the most punk Police song on the flip (“Peanuts”), is a work of art. And this reissue, which also includes the 1979 sleeve in the packaging and was remastered at Abbey Road, is the perfect way to celebrate the landmark anniversary of the trio’s once-controversial hit single.
9. Johnny Mathis — I Love My Lady (Legacy Recordings)
After Johnny Mathis got together with Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards in ‘81 to record I Love My Lady, Columbia seemingly felt it was too far removed from his trademark sound and shelved it without explanation. Thirty-six years later, the LP was finally released as part of the massive 2017 Mathis box set The Voice of Romance: The Columbia Original Album Collection and is every bit as incredible as you could have imagined it would be: a soulful mix of funk and bossa nova that sounds like nothing else in the crooner’s catalog. Now it makes its standalone debut on clear-smoke vinyl with a beautifully imagined cover that looks as though it was already plated and ready for release back in 1981.
10. Sun Ra – Standards (ORG Music)
Sun Ra was renowned for his disregard for the rules and regulations of proper jazz. But that didn't mean the Saturn-born pianist couldn't button up with the best of them. Released on vinyl for the very first time, this 2000 collection is a chronicle of Sun Ra at his most swinging and straightforward, bringing together sessions from the Choreographer's Workshop rehearsal space in 1962 and 1963 with a poignant 1955 performance of the Kay Swift/Paul James composition “Can This Be Love?” that was cut with bassist Wilbur Ware at Ra’s apartment in Chicago.
11. The Good Rats — Tasty 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Uncle Rat Music)
Perhaps the one cool thing that happened in the train wreck which was the HBO series Vinyl was how there was a passing mention of The Good Rats, the celebrated rulers of the Long Island rock scene in the 1970s who used to throw rubber rats into the audience, opened for the likes of Rush, Journey and Aerosmith and were the darlings of local rock radio. Originally released on Warner Bros. Records in 1974 but reissued in 1978 on their own Rat City imprint, Tasty is considered to be the band’s Exile On Main St.; and in honor of the 1978 version's 40th anniversary Tasty makes a triumphant return to wax with this deluxe edition, remastered by two-time Grammy-winner Vlado Meller on 180gm transparent yellow vinyl with two unreleased bonus cuts. The Good Rats will also be performing a Record Store Day set on Long Island at Record Stop on April 21 at 12 p.m. ET (simulcast live by WEHM) with singer Stefan Marchello carrying on the legacy of his father, Peppi Marchello, one of the truly unsung songwriters of the album rock era.
12. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock — It Takes Two: 30th Anniversary Edition (Legacy Recordings)
Run-D.M.C. may have brought hip-hop to the suburbs, but Harlem’s Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock did one better by bringing the Bronx-born sound past the velvet rope of the dance clubs with their debut album It Takes Two. And for the next decade it seemed as though you couldn't enjoy ladies night at your local college bar without hearing the hits “Joy and Pain” and that indelible James Brown sampling title track. In honor of its 30th anniversary, It Takes Two returns to vinyl for the first time since it was originally released in 1988 on this RSD exclusive pressed on opaque red wax to match Rob's fresh threads on the cover. Lucky for us, however, it doesn't come scented with that unholy combination of cigarette smoke, Drakkar Noir and beer.
13. Lloyd Green and Jay Dee Maness — Journey to the Beginning: A Steel Guitar Tribute to The Byrds (Coastal Bend Music)
On August 30, The Byrds’ country-rock masterpiece Sweetheart of the Rodeo turns 50. And while there'll surely be a parade commemorating the event all across the Internet, steel guitarists Lloyd Green and Jay Dee Maness get the jump on the celebration with this excellent instrumental tribute to the groundbreaking album on which both men were featured prominently. It includes a vocal reprise of opening track “You Ain't Going Nowhere" featuring an all-star choir with Jim Lauderdale, Herb Pedersen, Richie Furay, Jeff Hanna, Matraca Berg, Jim Photoglo and Bill Lloyd. Only 500 copies are being pressed up, so if you are a Byrds fan make sure you snap up this poignant tribute from two top flight musicians who played a key role in making Sweetheart the country-rock belle of ’68.
14. Dave Grusin — The Friends of Eddie Coyle OST (Wewantsounds)
Director Peter Yates’ 1973 crime flick The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the most underrated classics of a decade teeming with pure grit on celluloid. Starring Robert Mitchum and Peter Boyle, the film chronicles the travails of a low-level wiseguy who chooses to rat out his friends to avoid a lengthy jail sentence while supplying weapons to the very friends he’s snitching on. Shot on location all over the Boston area, the Bullitt auteur took a chance on a young jazz composer named Dave Grusin to score the soundtrack, who brought together some of the hottest players on the L.A. jazz scene including John Guerin, Chuck Rainey, Tom Scott, Bud Shank and percussionist Emil Richards to create a funky electric jazz suite on par with the movie soundtracks of Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin and Herbie Hancock at the time. The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to The Friends of Eddie Coyle was strangely never released when the film hit theaters in the summer of ’73. But thanks to the Wewantsounds imprint, this deep funk classic is finally available on vinyl for the first time and on CD as well, remastered from the original tapes with one bonus track, liner Notes by UK journalist and musician David Toop and a gorgeous gatefold sleeve with artwork by famed movie poster designer Oliver Barrett.
15. Living Colour — Live At CBGB’s, 12.19.89 (Legacy)
It was at CBGB’s where Mick Jagger saw Living Colour for the first time while recording his second solo LP Primitive Cool in New York City, inspiring the Stones frontman to make his label Epic Records an offer they couldn’t refuse and release the band’s debut LP Vivid in May of 1988. A year later, the original lineup of Corey Glover, Muzz Skillings, Will Calhoun and Vernon Reid returned to CB’s fresh off opening for the Stones on their massive Steel Wheels tour and, a week before Christmas, delivered this unrelenting set loaded with ripping versions of such Vivid faves as “Cult of Personality” and “Middle Man," a righteous cover of Bad Brains’ “Sailin’ On” and previews of their then-forthcoming LP Time’s Up with early takes on “Pride,” “Information Overload” and “Love Rears Its Ugly Head,” all captured on glorious soundboard and released on vinyl for the very first time.
16. Robert Glasper x Kaytranada — ArtScience Remixes (Blue Note)
Hot off his power trio August Greene with Common and Karriem Riggins, Robert Glasper continues to display his knowledge of modern hip-hop by recruiting one of the hottest producers on the scene to remix eight tracks from 2016’s excellent ArtScience LP by the pianist’s group The Robert Glasper Experiment. Featuring cameos from Don Cheadle, Talib Kweli, Alex Isley and Iman Omari, this soundclash between the combo of Glasper, bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Mark Colenburg and vocalist Casey Benjamin and Montreal’s Kaytranada has been available as a stream/download for a minute now, but will be available for real as a 12-inch RSD exclusive and serves as a satisfying holdover until his newest band R+R=NOW (with Hodge, Terrace Martin, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Taylor McFerrin and Justin Tyson) drops their debut album this summer.
17. Thelonious Monk — Monk (Legacy Recordings)
Originally released in 1964, Monk’s fourth LP for Columbia featured a swinging mix of standards (“Just You, Just Me,” “April In Paris”) and originals (“Teo,” a unique arrangement of “Children’s Song (That Old Man)”) with perhaps his most famous lineup (himself on piano, Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, Larry Gates on bass and Ben Riley on drums). The release of this RSD edition of the classic LP on standard black vinyl has been newly remastered at high resolution from the original master tapes and is a great punctuation mark to complete the centennial celebration of this true genius of jazz piano.
18. The Lurkers — Fulham Fallout (Beggars Arkive)
Beggars Banquet (the record label) turns 40 this June. And while it may be known more as the home to such prominent names in alternative pop as Gary Numan, The Cult, The Go-Betweens, the Charlatans UK and Love and Rockets, in 1978, label founders Martin Mills and Nick Austin hedged their bets to make the debut LP from a scrappy punk group out of West London called The Lurkers the label’s inaugural release. And for this landmark anniversary, Beggars has revamped and remastered Fulham Fallout—a record that earned the band the handle of “England’s Ramones” and a spot on Henry Rollins’ top 20 punk albums of all-time list—on orange vinyl for RSD as a reminder of how much their hybrid of glam and aggression was crucial to the foundation of the early UK punk movement.
19. Anywhere — Anywhere II (ORG Music)
The brainchild of San Francisco new psych luminary Christian Eric Beaulieu, Anywhere is an intriguing amalgam of stoner rock and American Primitive guitar featuring a rotating cast of famous musicians from bands everybody knows and loves. And five years after its eponymous debut, this shapeshifting supergroup returns with its sequel for Record Store Day, where Beaulieu is joined by the likes of Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In/Mars Volta fame, Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, Trans Am’s Phil Manley, Dale Crover of The Melvins, Ethan Miller of Howlin Rain and the incomparable Mike Watt for another journey into the desert of your inner mind.
20. Ella Fitzgerald — Ella at Zardi’s (Verve)
One of the great discoveries in the jazz archives over the last year has been a previously unreleased live album from Ella Fitzgerald. It was a concert held at Zardi’s Jazzland in Hollywood on February 2, 1956 to celebrate the singer’s signing to Verve Records, the label Norman Granz launched primarily to catapult Ella to superstardom. The recording was shelved as Verve’s inaugural release in favor of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book, but following a 2017 CD issue finally makes its debut on vinyl (of the pink and blue variety) as an RSD exclusive. If there's one jazz title to try and score this Record Store Day, Zardi’s is it.
21. Chet Faker — Thinking In Textures (Universal)
The 2012 debut EP from Australian art-pop sensation Nick Murphy, released under his Chet Faker pseudonym, was our first taste of this young artist’s amazing fusion of folk, R&B and spacey electronics, highlighted by a recalibration of the 1996 Blackstreet hit “No Diggity” that’s served as his sonic calling card ever since. This RSD exclusive version of the seven-track Thinking In Textures is plated on smoke-swirled clear vinyl with embossed jacket art. Even six years later, this EP still sounds like the future.
22. Big Audio Dynamite II — On The Road Live ’92 (Legacy Recordings)
Mick Jones reintroduced the world to his celebrated post-Clash outfit Big Audio Dynamite in 1991 with B.A.D. II, whose new lineup delivered the group's highest charting album in America with The Globe. This live EP was originally released as a U.S.-only title and was out of circulation as quickly as it emerged back in '92. But now it's back for RSD as a reminder of what a killer band Jones had put together for the second incarnation of B.A.D. via five tracks culled from a broadcast on WXRT at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago on October 5, 1991 as well as The Ritz in NYC on April 24, 1992. It would be awesome if Legacy made both of these shows available in their complete form someday, perhaps as part of their push to gain more exposure in the digital realm.
23. Miles Davis — Rubberband EP (Warner Bros.-Rhino)
When Miles Davis left Columbia for Warner Bros. in 1985, he wanted to make an affirmative statement as to the direction he was going with his music and began working on a mysterious project called Rubberband. “It was fat grooves, really funky, Miles talking,” explained Randy Hall (who produced the sessions with Zane Giles) to George Cole, author of the book The Last Miles. “It was street and funky and dirty. We didn’t go after writing a great jazz song, Miles wanted the street thing; he wanted the chord changes he wanted to play. The basis was to take it to the street like On the Corner, it was Miles taking more chances.”
Davis would ultimately shelve the sessions -- which were set to include vocals from Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan -- to work on his proper Warner Bros. debut Tutu. But for this surprise RSD release, the trumpet great’s son Erin Davis and nephew Vince Wilburn, Jr. got together with Hall and Giles to update and remix the fabled Rubberband material into a four-track EP, featuring newly recorded vocals by R&B/jazz singer Ledisi on the title cut. The cover art is a painting by Miles.
24. The Cure — Mixed Up/Torn Down (Mixed Up Extras) (Rhino)
At long last, Rhino’s reissue campaign of The Cure catalog picks up steam once again with a limited edition double LP picture disc of the band’s underappreciated 1990 remix album Mixed Up, newly remastered by Robert Smith himself and released on vinyl for the very first time with this RSD exclusive. And if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Smith has also readied his long-promised sequel entitled Torn Down for the festivities as well: a 16-track collection stacked with revamped deep cuts from all 13 of the band’s studio albums plus material from both The Head On The Door and the 2001 single “Cut Here” as well as a new version of the Mixed Up exclusive “Never Enough.” A three-CD deluxe edition of Mixed Up/Torn Down has been promised to follow, according to an interview Smith gave BBC Radio 6 on April 13, as well as the equally anticipated expanded edition of their classic 1992 LP Wish.
25. Grant Green — Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes (1969-1970), Slick! Live at Oil Can Harry’s
The Jazz Detective does it again! And this time producer Zev Feldman delivers a pair of lost live albums from the thick of jazz guitar icon Grant Green’s funk era. The first one, Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes, features two complete performances from la Maison de la Radio in Paris on October 26, 1969 plus full concert recordings from Antibes Jazz Festival on June 18 and 20, 1970. Slick! - Live at Oil Can Harry’s, meanwhile, was captured live on September 5, 1975 and originally broadcast on CHQM-FM in Vancouver with primarily Detroit-based band with Emmanuel Riggins (father of drummer Karriem Riggins) on electric piano, Ronnie Ware on bass, drummer Greg “Vibrations” Williams (Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson) and Gerald Izzard on percussion, displaying the heavier R&B direction Green was taking four years prior to his death in 1979 at the young age of 43. Get the early jump on these gems ahead of their official rollout in late May with the limited vinyl editions Resonance has made available for Record Store Day.