Did you stand in line for hours on April 20? Did you max out your Visa card? Did you have to hit eBay afterwards to keep that collector-geek high going? Most important: what did you score? We’ll show you ours if you show us yours.
BY FRED MILLS, JASON GROSS, DANNY PHILLIPS AND JOHN MOORE
Record Store Day #6: April 20, 2013. It came, it saw, it conquered. Our minds and wallets, that is. Below is just a mere sampling of what was available—you can read more about RSD elsewhere on this website—and what some of the staff and contributors fanned out for. Guaranteed: all (well, most… there was that R.E.M. live CD…) sales vinyl. We’ve tried to supply notable collectible details for each score, plus a parenthetical note on what these sold-out limited editions might cost you if you decide to seek them out on eBay. Beware the gougers, however. —Ed.
GRATEFUL DEAD – Rare Cuts & Oddities 1966 LP (Rhino, www.rhino.com; 5000 copies)
As the dust settles on another Record Store Day, we music freaks dread the day that comes weeks later when we get our credit card statement reminding us how much hard-earned cash we blew on our obsession in one day. Hopefully by then, we’re satisfied with some great music and rarities that we’ve scarfed up weeks ago to tide us over as we wonder how we’ll pay the rest of our bills now. For classic rock and indie rock fans, two RSD releases were no-brainers.
The first comes from a certain well-toured San Fran band which accumulated an impressive following. Rare Cuts & Oddities 1966 definitely lives up to its title. The first half of the album comes from sessions done in March ’66, about a year before they went to the studio to make their self-titled debut record while the second half comes from West Coast shows from the same time period. What’s heard on these early recordings is an accomplished garage rock band that would have fit in well on the classic Nuggets compilation. It’s also something of a tribute to their late singer Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan- his gruff vocals (better than Jerry’s or Bob’s but no match for Janis’ for white blues-rock), harmonica and organ dominate many of the songs, plus he’s singled out onstage at the end of record with a special thank you and there’s a nice singled-out photo of him on the inlay of the release.While Rare Cuts is a valuable document in chronicling the early sound of the band and an obvious must for completests, some Deadheads may miss the jam band component that’s absent here in these compact, shorter takes on their early material where you hear more of a wholly bar band than the wild experimental rock band that they’d soon evolve into. This is especially noticeable here on decent-but-not-great versions of “Good Lovin’” and “Not Fade Away,” which they would later stretch out into joyous extravaganzas, along with their lesser known takes on other R&B-tinged classics like “Walking the Dog,” though they do fine with a sexy, simmering version of Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee.” Garcia does get off some stinging guitar parts (again on “Bee”) but they’re not the epic journeys that he’d later take off on and you only rarely hear the psych madness that the group would become famous for on “Cream Puff War” (which would appear on their debut) and a furious take of “Caution” (later recorded on their second album) taped live at an L.A. date. As usual with the Dead, the live stuff here is what you savor. —Jason Gross [Current eBay price: $49-$90]
R.E.M. – Live In Greensboro CD (Warner Bros., www.warnerbros.com; 5000 copies)
Contrast that with another arena band that was more comfortable overall in the studio. In 1989, R.E.M. was poised for musical world domination, jumping from years of toiling in indie land (and their I.R.S. Records contract) to Warner Brothers and their debut there with Green. As a teaser for the upcoming deluxe reissue of that (which is one of their finest, most consistent records), we have a nice hors d’oeuvre in the form of a five-song live EP taken from the tour to promote that album, done only a few days after the record was released- more of the material from the same show will come in the deluxe package that Warner has prepped for the reissue. While the live 2009 release Live at the Olympia was a pleasant surprise and an under-rated part of their catalog, this EP reminds us of an important component to their music that’s missing here- the studio, which gave their songs an aura of mystery. They do rock out well though (especially on their cover of Wire’s “Strange”) and their tunefulness is definitely evident, not to mention their musicianship. And this is a nice mix of their career up until then, including early material (“So. Central Rain”), plus songs from Green (“I Remember California”), Fables of the Reconstruction (“Feeling Gravity’s Pull”) and Document (“King of Birds”). Maybe what’s called for is a bigger hunk of live material in the form of a compilation, if not box set to reassess their live potential. Surely, indie fans will scarf it up and Warner won’t mind the profits. —Jason Gross [Current eBay price: $21-$49]
BARDO POND – “Maggot Brain” b/w “The Creator Has a Master Plan” 12” (Fire, www.firerecords.com; 500 copies)
Consider this a 12” single in name only; both the Funkadelic classic on the A-side and the Pharoah Sanders staple on the B-side clock in at well over a quarter-hour apiece. Conjoined via the nominal title Rise Above It All, the two tracks from the Philly-bases psychedelic pharmacists are sufficiently dreamy AND freeform to scratch that freak-flag itch you’ve been feeling of late. “Maggot Brain” in particular does late P-funk guitarist Eddie Hazel proud, suggesting that the Brothers Gibbons (Bardo co-founders John and Michael) have indeed grokked the fullness. Isobel Sollenberger’s flute riffing on “Creator” ain’t too shabby, either. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $22-$43]
GIANT GIANT SAND – Return to Tucson LP (Fire, www.firerecords.com; 1000 copies)
Comprising 8 alternate versions/mixes of tunes originally appearing on last year’s ambitious Tucson, Return to Tucson makes for a delightful flashback companion that will make you want to indeed revisit the source material. Particularly noteworthy is the Chris Schultz “extended version” of “Hard Morning in a Soft Blur” which perfectly captures the wooziness that sometimes afflicts a desert-dweller in the early a.m.; and John Parish’s jittery remix of “Undiscovered Country,” with its telltale Latin inflections. As always, Howe Gelb’s deadpan baritone remains both a signature for the group, and an aural treat. It does make me ache to return to Tucson… I lived there for 10 wonderful years and still miss the place dearly. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $32-$49]
CALEXICO – Spiritoso LP (Anti-, www.anti.com, 2200 copies, white vinyl)
Likewise with the spell cast upon me by Gelb’s erstwhile bandmates Joey Burns and John Convertino: this live symphonic recording reconfigures some of the Tucson band’s best material without sacrificing any of the original magic. Sometimes re-cutting tunes with an orchestra drains the mojo right out of ‘em, but not in this instance, as evidenced by the lump-in-throat majesty of “The News About William” and the emotional urgency of “Two Silver Trees.” It also makes you wonder why nobody ever thought of pairing up Mariachi horn players with symphony musicians before; it’s as simpatico a fit as I’ve heard all year. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $27-$60]
NICK DRAKE – Nick Drake LP (Island, www.islanddefjam.com; unlimited)
I was shocked this gem from Nick Drake didn’t get more “ooh’s and ah’s” on the message boards when it was announced that it would be included in this year’s RSD offerings. Responsible for introducing many in the U.S. to just how fantastic a singer Drake was, this record – originally out in 1971 – is a compilation drawn from his first two albums from Island. While people still cling to their copies of Pink Moon, this is just as much of a must-have for fans of the folkie. It includes “Cello Song,” “Northern Sky,” “Three Hours” and five more near-perfect songs. This version also comes with a poster and download. —John B. Moore [Current eBay price: $33]
THE CURE – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me LP (Fiction/Rhino, www.rhino.com; 3,500 copies, red vinyl)
It would have been easy for The Cure to reissue Disintegration (the album everybody and their dog loves) for Record Store Day with some cool packaging and watch the money roll in. If they did that I couldn’t say I’d blame them but, I wouldn’t be as happy as I was with Fiction’s choice to press Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me in double vinyl as red as Robert Smith’s lipstick. Remastered and re-packaged by Rhino, Kiss Me was perfect for the re-issue. Not only for the hits “Why Can’t I Be You?” and “Just Like Heaven” but due to the fact that it is perhaps its most challenging and interesting record to date with tracks like “Hot Hot Hot” and the instrumental mindblower “How Beautiful you Are.” It’s a necessary purchase for fans of The Cure that missed Kiss Me when it first hit the street way back in 1987. —Danny R. Phillips [Current eBay price: $43-$75]
BEAK> – ”0898” b/w “Welcome to the Machine” 10” EP (Invada, www.invada.co.uk, 1500 copies, white vinyl)
Why yes, yes, that IS a Pink Floyd cover by Portishead offshoot Beak. I don’t recall the group performing this at their Moogfest appearance a couple of years, but given its brittle motorik vibe that renders the tune nigh-on unrecognizable, it’s possible I didn’t pick up on it anyway. Beak> originally cut the tune for a Floyd covers project for German mag Visions, but it’s nice to have it hear on sweet white wax. The Joy Division-esque original “0898” is actually the stronger track, woozy and dark in all the right ways; it was initially a rare bonus track included on tour-only editions of the group’s second album. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $18-$33]
STEPHEN MALKMUS AND FRIENDS – Can’s Ege Bamyasi LP (Matador, www.matadorrecords.com, 1200 copies, green vinyl)
Pressed on some of the brightest, greenest wax I’ve ever seen in my 40+ years of record collecting, the Malkmus & Co. re-envisioning of the Can classic was recorded on Dec. 2, 2012, at the Week-End Fest in Cologne, Germany. Fitting, that. No one could possibly usurp the original LP for sheer viral viscosity; like the first Velvets album, Ege Bamyasi quite possibly launched a thousand or more groups. One listen to the trance-inducing “Spoon” here will supply ample evidence to the neophyte, while veterans of the Can aesthetic will no doubt dance a little Teutonic jig and chant along with, say, the chantworthy “Vitamin C” (who knew?) or bust a funk move or three as “I’m So Green” bumps along on the stereo. Get down, Krautrock fans! And never fear, punters: all six tunes are readily available to listen to at YouTube, as are most of the RSD rarities being discussed in this article. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $39-$59]
STOOGES / BLACK KEYS – “No Fun” side-by-side 7” Warner Bros./Nonesuch, www.warnerbros.com; orange/red vinyl)
This was a good idea. The Stooges clearly have influenced the ramshackle garage sound of The Black Keys and thousands of other bands since first hitting the streets (and arguably inventing punk rock) in 1967. There is nothing new here however. If you love The Stooges, you already own The Stooges from 1969. If you’re a BK fan and a recordhead, you own “The Big Come Up” on vinyl that contains this cover of “No Fun.” It’s not re-recorded, the packaging of them together is the gift. What’s strange is that The Stooges version, recorded 33 years before The Black Keys took their shot, sounds fresher, more alive, more furious then the one recorded by two young bucks from Akron. Perhaps that’s the lasting appeal of The Stooges: They’ll always be more alive than you’ll ever be. —Danny R. Phillips [Current eBay price: $14-$35]
FELA KUTI & AFRIKA 70 – “Sorrow Tears and Blood” b/w “Perambulator” 12” (Kalakuta Sunrise/Knitting Factory, www.knittingfactoryrecords.com, 1500 copies)
Hold on there, Mr. Fela Fan, you just might not have this music in your extensive collection of Afrobeat: most of the versions of “Sorrow Tears and Blood” in circulation are the 10-minute version, but this is the nearly 17-min. extended version which, we are advised by a handy sticker on the shrink wrap, is “previously unreleased outside of Nigeria.” And as most of us know, 10 minutes is barely enough time for Fela to get his sax reed wettened, so an extra 7 means things get cooking. Accept no substitutes. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $24-$35]
WILLIE NELSON – “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” 7” (Legacy, www.sonylegacy.com; 3000 copies, green vinyl)
With Willie Nelson, long hailed as one of the Godfathers of the “Legalize it” scene (not to mention, one of the greatest musicians to ever come out of the Lone Star state), releasing a special Record Store Day 7” this year, it seems only fitting that the occasion fell on 4/20. The song? “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” of course; the hard-to -resist sing-along with guest vocals by Snoop Dogg, Jamey Johnson and Kris Kristofferson. Numbered and coming in colorful ganja green, the record (supposedly) includes a previously unreleased Willie solo version on the B Side. Oddly, my copy included two Side A’s, which makes me wonder if the good folks at Legacy Records were just trying to screw around with someone’s buzz. —John B. Moore [Current eBay price: $10-$15]
CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND – Frank Freeman’s Dance Club and Other Rarities LP (Dandelion/Ozit-Morpheus, www.ozitmorpheus.co.uk, 1000 copies, purple vinyl)
The Ozit-Morpheus folks have scavenged the vaults of tape collectors for years now in search of rare Beefheart, and while this release isn’t super-obscure, it does sport pretty decent sound for a quasi-bootleg. Four songs were recorded at the titular Freeman club during the Magic Band’s ’68 tour and originally turned up on the Grow Fins box set of rarities, while the remainder appears to hail from ’69. Not essential, and certainly not an intro item for someone just beginning to explore, the band’s early live sound, but if you’re a B-fart collector, it’s a nice piece. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $55-$120]
NO ALTERNATIVE (Various Artists) LP (Legacy, www.sonylegacy.com; 3000 copies)
We’ve been waiting twenty years for this, twenty years to say “No Alternative- Now on Vinyl!” The landmark compilation, compiled in 1993 by the Red Hot Organization to raise money for AIDS research, is a who’s who of the alternative music scene at the time. Bob Mould, Uncle Tupelo, Patti Smith, Soul Asylum, The Breeders, “Sappy,” a hidden track by Nirvana and many others donated time and energy to No Alternative and it has since been venerated as the go to time capsule of the era. The vinyl Record Store Day release is beautiful done with “girl” artwork (most in 1993 featured a boy on the cover) and inserts, individually numbered jackets (mine is #1105) and audiophile 180 gram vinyl. For those of us of a certain age, this is necessary purchase to look back on the finer days we’ve most likely forgotten and a chance for young kids to hear what they missed. —Danny R. Phillips [Current eBay price: $49-$60]
JASON ISBELL & ELIZABETH COOK – “Tecumseh Valley” b/w “Pancho & Lefty” 7” 45 (31 Tigers, www.facebook.com/pages/31-Tigers-Records/113660238649972, 1000 copies)
Two of America’s best young songwriters pay tribute to the late, great Townes Van Zandt – you need any more recommendation than that? Both singers have the perfect levels of gravitas to pull a Townes—many have tried and many have failed—and it’s to their joint credit that they both sound unmistakably themselves as well. “Pancho & Lefty” will bring tears to your eyes for all the right reasons. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $20]
SHEARWATER & SHARON VAN ETTEN – “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” b/w “A Wake for the Minotaur 7” 45 (Sub Pop, www.subpop.com, 1200 copies)
Housed in a gorgeous thick-stock four-panel foldout sleeve boasting a full-color Kahn And Selesnick portrait, this inspired artistic pairing yields modest gold on the A-side, admittedly a hard act to follow when the original was polished to perfection by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. That duly noted, Van Etten’s got the husky-throated Nicks inflections down perfectly, while Jonathan Meiburg holds up his end of duet bargain; and the Shearwater dudes hum along like true Heartbreakers disciples. The Meiburg original on the flip is an understated treat as well. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $18.99]
HUSKER DU – Amusement/Statues 2×7” (Numero, www.numerogroup.com; 2700 copies)
Recorded in 1980 as demos for a Twin/Tone label deal that never happened, Husker Du’s Amusement and Statues, with the b-sides “Let’s go Die” and the exceptional Buzzcocks worthy “Writer’s Cramp” have been out of circulation for years. Now, thanks to the Numero Group, 2,700 lucky people (myself included) have these coveted 7”forever in hand. The live version of “Amusement” shows a band that fed a direct line of inspiration to 90’s alternative bands like Nirvana and The Melvins, “Let’s Go Die” is Husker at its strange, hardcore finest. These songs show a band that would go on to define a genre and the songs, especially “Writer’s Cramp” are clean enough in sound quality to make fans wish Husker Du’s entire catalog would be remastered to clean up that god awful fucking mess that Spot made at SST. —Danny R. Phillips [Current eBay price: $24-$34]
AEROSMITH – Aerosmith; Get Your Wings; Toys In the Attic LPs (Legacy, www.sonylegacy.com; 5000 copies each)
Long before Steven Tyler turned into a Real Housewife of Boston and Joe Perry became a cheerleader for the GOP, Aerosmith were a fucking brilliant Blues-soaked Rock band. And to prove it, just go back to their first three records, all conveniently re-released for RSD. Each is remastered, numbered and molded in 180-gram (shorthand for much sturdier, but don’t let a record nerd hear you say that) and unlike those classic gatefold-versions you can pick up used at your local record store (if you can even find them) these brand new copies aren’t crusted with old pot stems and seeds.
Aerosmith – Released exactly 40 years ago, their debut album is newly remastered from the original source tapes and includes the classics “Dream On,” “Mama Kin” (still great) and “Walkin’ the Dog”.
Get Your Wings – Not nearly as good as the debut or the album that follows it, this one still holds up remarkable well, including tracks like “Same Old Song and Dance” and “Train Kept A-Rollin'”.
Toys In The Attic – The band’s third – and best (yes, best!) album boasted “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” among a slew of other greats. —John B. Moore [Current eBay price: $29-$35]
THE DB’S – Revolution of the Mind 12” EP (Orange Sound, www.thedbs.com, 2000 copies, 50 of them autographed, orange vinyl)
Manna for dB’s collectors and completists: ya get the blazing title track, originally a digital-only release (watch the original video, below); ya get brand-new, non-album tracks “Lakefront” and “Orange Squeezer”; and ya get concert instrumental mainstay “pH Factor” recorded in NYC last June. Oh, and if you happened to be at a certain North Carolina record store on RSD and purchased the deebs platter, ya also got one of 50 inner sleeves signed by all four members of the band, which is no small notation considering how infrequently The dB’s tour and the resulting odds of catching Chris, Peter, Will and Gene in the same room at the same time. Sweet. —Fred Mills [Current eBay price: $18-$29]