After two years of navigating fragmented drop days due to a pandemic that cared very little about your shopping agenda, Record Store Day once again returns to its rightful place on the penultimate Saturday in April.
Granted, there will be a designated make-up day on June 18 that plans to serve as something of a retail safety net for those titles that couldn’t arrive in stores on the April 23. But the good news is that the lion’s share of these exclusive pieces will, in fact, arrive on the intended date, which also serves as the 15th anniversary of RSD as an international shoppers’ holiday.
To commemorate the milestone, the RSD folks have appointed global ambassadorship this year to American pop queen Taylor Swift, who in the last 15 years has firmly established herself as one of the great album artists of her generation thanks to such modern classics as 1989, folklore and last year’s epic Red (Taylor’s Version). These are titles as cherished by today’s generation as Carole King’s Tapestry and Carly Simon’s No Secrets were to their grandparents.
“Record stores are so important because they help to perpetuate and foster music-loving as a passion,” Swift wrote in a statement on the RSD website. “They create settings for live events. They employ people who adore music thoroughly and purely. Those people and shops have had a rough few years and we need to support these small businesses more now than ever to make sure they can stay alive, stay eccentric, and stay individual. It’s been a true joy for me to watch vinyl sales grow in the past few years and we, the artists, have the fans to thank for this pleasant surprise. Happy Record Store Day, everyone! Stay safe out there.”
Whether you are a hardcore crate digger or a casual reveler of the annual hoopla, here are some titles worth hunting for this year.
The Bleeding Hearts, Riches to Rags (Fiasco Records-Bar-None)
Bob Stinson didn’t just disappear into thin air after he left The Replacements. And it’s high time the late guitarist’s post-Mats output gets the flowers it deserves, starting with these previously unreleased recordings from 1993 as part of The Bleeding Hearts, a group composed of fellow Minneapolis musicians Mike Leonard on guitar and vocals, bassist Rob Robello and drummer Bob Herbers whose relationship with Stinson was over before it began as Bob left right after laying down the 13 songs comprising Riches To Rags, made available for the first time anywhere for RSD and pressed on blood-red vinyl. Stinson would be dead two years after cutting these songs with the Bleeding Hearts on February 18, 1995 at the age of 35, making this collection all the more treasured by lifelong Mats fans who wish they had more time with him.
Albert Ayler, Revelations: The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings (Elemental Records)
Chet Baker, Live In Paris: The Radio France Recordings 1983-1984 (Elemental Records)
Charles Mingus, The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s (Resonance Records)
Bill Evans, Morning Glory: The 1973 Concert at the Teatro Gran Rex, Buenos Aires and Inner Spirit: The 1979 Concert at the Teatro General San Martín, Buenos Aires (Resonance Records)
The Jazz Detective Zev Feldman is working quadruple time this year for RSD with FIVE new archival titles on deck from both the Resonance and Elemental imprints, including a pair of Bill Evans concerts in Buenos Aires, a lost 1972 Charles Mingus live album from Ronnie Scott’s in London (featuring an amazing band that includes alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, tenor saxophonist Bobby Jones, trumpeter Jon Faddis, pianist John Foster and drummer Roy Brooks) and an endearing collection of Radio France recordings from the Chet Baker Trio that date back to 1983-84. But the piece de resistance of Zev’s latest bounty is a 5-LP collection of previously unheard tapes of free jazz saxophone giant Albert Ayler shortly before his passing in 1970, sourced from a pair of radio performances in Saint-Paul de Vence, France, housed in a deluxe slipcase with a 12 x 12 booklet containing new interviews with surviving jazz icons Sonny Rollins and Archie Shepp.
Mariah Carey, #1’s (Legacy Recordings)
Only a couple of years before the major labels began cashing in on collections of number one hits by the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey released #1’s in 1998, a real-time collection of her absolute domination of the Billboard Hot 100 since her debut in 1990 (she now has 19 No. 1s on the chart). This RSD edition of #1’s is a most welcome return to vinyl, which somehow makes the sweetness of such eternal Mariah hits as “Someday,” “Fantasy” and “Always Be My Baby” all the tastier when they are emanating from your turntable.
Jeannie C. Riley, Harper Valley P.T.A. (ORG Music)
Before Bad Moms and Bridesmaids, country singer Jeannie C. Riley took on the titular Mom Mafia of the song that helped her become the very first woman to have a No. 1 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs chart. Out of print since the early ’70s, Riley’s loose 1968 concept album about Harper Valley life enjoys a return to vinyl with a limited-edition color pressing featuring newly penned liner notes by JCR herself.
Voivod, Nothingface and Angel Rat (Real Gone)
The Real Gone label continues to do wonders for the catalog of Canadian prog-metal giants Voivod as they offer the long-overdue returns of the two crown jewels in the group’s discography to vinyl in 1989’s Nothingface, which will be released in a limited run of 6,000 copies on pink and blue swirl vinyl on June 18, and its even more experimental follow-up, 1991’s Terry Brown produced Angel Rat, which will also be limited to only 6,000 pressings on limited “Deep Purple with Lime Monster Green” swirled wax on April 23. Any self-respecting metal fan knows exactly why the return of these two albums to vinyl is such a big deal.
Ramones, The Sire Albums (Rhino Records)
Ramones made some of their very best albums in the ’80s, all of which deserve deluxe editions in the vein of the ones Rhino crafted for the punk icons’ first four LPs. But beggars cannot be choosers, and in lieu of such fan fantasy A&R’ing we are grateful to see these seven titles available once again on vinyl as part of this deluxe box set, which includes such underrated Ramones classics as 1983’s Subterranean Jungle and 1989’s magnificent Brain Drain.
The Cure, Pornography (Elektra/Rhino)
Their last album as three imaginary boys of Robert Smith, Simon Gallup and Lol Tolhurst, 1982’s Pornography marked one final gaze into the post-punk darkness of their early years before heading into the more pop-oriented fare of such mid-’80s gems as The Head on the Door and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. In honor of its 40th anniversary this year comes this limited edition picture disc from Rhino.
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, Modern Lovers ‘88 (Craft Recordings)
Similar to former Lover Jerry Harrison’s band Talking Heads that same year on Naked, Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers closed out their recording career with grace on Modern Lovers ‘88, a playful and largely mellow affair that has more in common with Jonathan’s quirky solo work than such early Lovers ravers as “Roadrunner” and “Pablo Picasso.” To celebrate its forthcoming 35th anniversary comes this sky blue pressing of ‘88 featuring an all-analog remaster from the original tapes, offering longtime Richman/Lovers fans a new opportunity to appreciate this oft-overlooked album in the Boston bard’s oeuvre.
Rick Astley, Whenever You Need Somebody: 35th Anniversary Edition (BMG)
It took us a good 16 years of RickRolling for the listening public to appreciate the pop genius of the English singer and his 1987 debut LP. In honor of its 35th anniversary, Whenever You Need Somebody has been remastered at Abbey Road Studios for a limited run of 1800 copies on classic black wax. This vinyl precedes a deluxe edition of Somebody, which includes expanded liner notes and a bonus CD featuring the album’s B-sides, dance remixes from the era and Astley’s own updated versions the LP’s biggest singles.
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Breakin’ (Get On Down)
Rest in peace Adolfo ‘Shabba Doo’ Quiñones, who as Ozone in this Gen X fan favorite from 1984 helped a nation learn how to pop, lock and backspin alongside actress Lucinda Dickey as Special K and West Coast dance icon Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers as Turbo. Limited to a pressing of just 2000 copies, this clear vinyl edition of the original soundtrack — highlighted by such hits as Ollie & Jerry’s “Breakin’…There’s No Stopping Us Now,” the eternal Rufus and Chaka Khan hit “Ain’t Nobody” and the album debut of Ice-T on the track “Reckless”– is a must for any kid looking to bone up on their hip-hop history.