This year marked the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day. And while the music industry has grown more capitalistically ravenous about the prospects of RSD’s revenue potential, the other side effect has been a renewed appreciation for physically owning music.
RSD is a testament to that devotion, so much that in 2010 the folks behind it made the infamous shopping day Black Friday an extension of their efforts to keep the American record shop alive and well in the 21st century. And while this offshoot isn’t as jam-packed with exclusives as its April counterpart, there are plenty of tasty titles with enough punch to inspire any music fan with money to burn to emerge from the tryptophan slumber of Thanksgiving and fight holiday traffic to their local mom-and-pop to score whatever might be on the list that suits their fancy.
Here are 10 particular titles that should make you want to get in that line as early as possible.
1. Bernie Worrell, All The Woo In The World (Tidal Waves Music): 1,400 copies available
Like Richard Wright was for Pink Floyd or Jon Lord to Deep Purple, keyboardist Bernie Worrell was the heart and soul of Parliament/Funkadelic, directing the mood of the band from the behind the ivories with his jazz-inflected progressions. Originally released in 1978, the late arranger/composer’s solo debut All The Woo In The World was the blueprint to his indispensable role as the key ingredient to the recipe for cosmic slop cooked up by an all-star lineup that included not only fellow P-Funk fam George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Eddie Hazel but a horn section that included Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley of the JB’s. Woo has been one of the great white whales for any serious collector of funk records due to its scarcity on the third market, but will be made available once again in the terrestrial format on limited edition colored vinyl. This is an album meant to be heard on a turntable.
2. John Lee Hooker, Black Night Is Falling (Justin Time Records): 800 copies available
If you are a fan of live Hook, you are already aware of the 1970s being the blues icon’s arguably best period as a stage performer thanks to the magic of such classic concert LPs as 1972’s Live at Kabuki-Wuki, 1976’s two-volume Alone and 1978’s excellent The Cream of John Lee Hooker. And this beautiful recording captured at the Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club in Montreal, Quebec, on May 5, 1977, is a must hear, as Hooker is backed by a killer band of some of the decade’s hottest hired guns, including John Garcia on guitar, Steve Jones on bass and Larry “Wild Man” Martin on drums tearing it up on gritty versions of such Hook faves as “Boom Boom,” “Serves Me Right to Suffer” and “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer.”
3. The Grateful Dead, The Grateful Dead Records Collection (Rhino): 5,800 copies available
Not enough great things are said about the Grateful Dead studio albums in general, let alone the classics they delivered in between tours in the early-to-mid 1970s when married couple Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux were in the fold, the mister’s keyboard arrangements taking the group in a more jazz-rooted direction than ever before. This underrated era is now being properly commemorated in the form of this limited vinyl box, which houses their three best Arista LPs in 1973’s Wake of the Flood, 1974’s From A Mars Hotel and 1975’s brilliant Blues for Allah along with the 1976 live album Steal Your Face, recorded during the group’s first farewell run at the Winterland in October of 1974.
4. Richard Hell & The Voidoids, Blank Generation 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino): 2,500 copies available
The debut from former Television bassist Richard Hell’s magnificent Voidoids is a cornerstone of ’77 NYC punk. The twin guitars of Robert Quine and Ivan Julian transcended anything else that emerged from CBGB’s at the time, creating this jagged jive with rhythm section Hell and drummer Mark Bell (nee Ramone) that jelled perfectly with the singer-poet’s jittery agit-pop that would inspire the likes of Sonic Youth and the Minutemen. This deluxe edition celebrates the punk classic’s 40th anniversary, and includes a bonus disc containing alternate takes cut at Electric Lady Studios as well as live cuts pulled from a bootleg of their first gig at CB’s in 1976.
5. Mike Watt, Contemplating the Engine Room (ORG Music): 1500 copies available
Two years after making one of the biggest statements in rock n’ roll networking of the 1990s with his solo debut Ball-Hog or Tugboat?, Mike Watt pared it down significantly for his second LP, a concept album based around his father’s work in the Navy on nuclear vessels that features Nels Cline on guitar and Stephen Hodges on drums. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Contemplating the Engine Room is finally receiving its first ever vinyl pressing on two 180 gram vinyl LPs, featuring three full sides of music, and a custom vinyl etching on the fourth side. The release includes a bonus download card featuring an entire unreleased live show with the Watt/Cline/Hodges lineup entitled Contemplating the Engine Room: Live in Long Beach ‘98 — Five Man Opera.
6. Prodigy, “Keep It Thoro” (12” Vinyl Longplay Picture Disc) (Legacy Recordings): 2500 copies available
The blood disorder sickle cell anemia carries a life expectancy of 40-60. And since he was a teenager, Albert “Prodigy” Johnson overcame the disease through the hard work he and his longtime creative partner Havoc put in as Mobb Deep. Sadly, he he passed away in June at 42. However, he leaves a great legacy behind both as one-half of the iconic New York group but also as a formidable solo act in his own right, highlighted on this limited edition picture disc repressing of the key single off his 2000 solo debut H.N.I.C. (also being released as an RSD exclusive via Get On Down Records). Having been used to hearing Prodigy rhyme over Havoc’s trademark grime, it remains a kick to hear how well he bounces on The Alchemist’s rewiring of Jackie Mayborn’s 1978 song “Disco People.” Rest in peace to one of the purest voices of Queens hip-hop.
7. Chris Bell, The Complete Chris Bell (Omnivore Recordings)
The Los Angeles-based imprint Omnivore Recordings has done such a beautiful job in 2017 celebrating the life of Big Star’s Chris Bell and his work beyond the Memphis power pop pioneers with releases like Looking Forward: The Roots of Big Star, a compilation of material from Bell’s pre-bands Rock City, Christmas Future, Icewater and The Wallabys, and a deluxe edition of the singer’s posthumous solo debut I Am The Cosmos. This beautiful six-LP box set houses the label’s complete Chris Bell output and includes an exclusive 1975 interview conducted by Barry Ballard as well as a 20-page color booklet with previously unseen photos. This is the anthology Chris Bell has deserved this whole time.
8. Y Kant Tori Read, Y Kant Tori Read (Rhino): 3,500 copies available for CD/4,000 for vinyl
The existence of this sole LP from Tori Amos’s short-lived synthpop outfit used to be a jokey factoid about her career in the ’90s. But in 2017, through the lens of the post-millennial love affair with ’80s production, Y Kant Tori Read is a retro revelation. And this remastered edition of the group’s sole 1988 LP is your chance to get right with the better-than-you-remember sound of songs like “The Big Picture” and “Floating City,” which strikes a funny middle ground between Kate Bush at her most commercial and The Cult at their catchiest (possibly due to the presence of the band’s drummer Matt Sorum on the record). It would be awesome to hear Tori make another synthpop album 30 years later.
9. Latyrx, Latyrx: The Album 20th Anniversary DLX (Real People): 1,000 copies available
If you spun underground hip-hop on college radio in 1997 and you weren’t playing Latyrx: The Album, you weren’t doing it right — this game-changing debut LP defined the Bay Area hip-hop sound for the late ’90s. With beats sculpted by DJ Shadow fresh off the heels of his own first masterpiece Endtroducing, Lateef the Truthspeaker and Lyrics Born zigzagged their distinctive flows through the grooves like horn players in such a way even they couldn’t replicate its perfection again. It’s hard to believe this album is 20 years old, because it seems as though cats are just starting to catch up to Latyrx as far as where they were talking hip-hop music back in ’97. And to commemorate this anniversary, the Real People label is reissuing Latyrx: The Album in a two-LP gatefold on swirled red/white and blue/white vinyl, with two bonus songs and an exclusive Black Friday RSD 7″ of the Shadow-produced single “Lady Don’t Tek No” as a bonus perk.
10. Albert Ayler & Don Cherry, Vibrations (ORG Music): 1500 copies available
Two of the freest souls in American jazz came together for a brief period of time in 1964, but what saxophonist Albert Ayler and trumpeter Don Cherry created while they were side by side still impacts the world of creative music 53 years later. The most famous fruit of that is Vibrations, recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark in September 1964 with Gary Peacock on double-bass and drummer Sonny Murray. It’s existed on the market for years under the name Ghosts, and now ORG Music restores the album to its original Freedom label issue, remastering it on 180 gram blue-and-white vinyl. On Vibrations, Cherry and Ayler struck a stirring space distinguishing the swing and the skronk of these two titans of the reeds.