It’s been eight years since Record Store Day kicked up its heels and sauntered onto the scene — an opportunity (excuse?) to descend on your local record store and spend a sizable budget on actual physical copies of recorded music. Since then, artists and labels everywhere have jumped at the opportunity to come up with special rare recordings to put in front of their audiences on this annual celebration. Sure, this results in early rising, heavily obsessed, line-standing mayhem that’s the music collector’s equivalent of the Black Friday mission for this year’s big toy. But, if you’re going to stand in line and spend a wad of cash, isn’t it better to do so on some great music that you can love forever instead of some plastic toy that’ll break before the week is out?
So, to offer some guidance as you approach this Saturday’s madhouse of RSD celebrations, ND staffers Stacy Chandler, Sonja Nelson, and I have come up with a list of RSD-specific releases we recommend you add to your list (if you care to peruse the whole giant list of all RSD 2015 releases, here you go):
Blackberry Smoke – Wood, Wire and Roses 10″
This is all-acoustic recent ND cover story band Blackberry Smoke, with some reimagined tunes from their freakishly rocking new album Holding All the Roses. They also threw in a Tom Waits cover, just to win over everyone else who’s not yet a BBS believer.
Justin Townes Earle – Live at Grimeys 10″
Justin’s latest project saw him releasing two albums back to back — Single Mothers and Absent Fathers. This performance from last fall captures him at one of Nashville’s most storied venues last fall, playing tunes from each.
Dom Flemons – What Got Over 10″
Flemons will spend his RSD performing at Schoolkids Records in Raleigh, NC, to celebrate the release of this RSD-only EP.
John Prine – September ’78 12″
There are only two thousand copies of this one being pressed, featuring Prine live in concert back home in Chicago, in 1978. It includes covers of “Try to Find Another Man” by the Everly Brothers and “Treat Me Nice” by Elvis Presley. Prine doing Presley. That alone is worth standing in line for.
Ryan Adams — Come Pick Me Up 7”
This Pax-Am release has an alternate take of “Come Pick Me Up” on one side and the previously unreleased “When the Rope Gets Tight” on the other.
Junior Brown — Better Call Saul Theme 7”
If you love this riveting AMC TV show, you’ll love the theme song. (Heck, you’ll love it even if you’ve never seen the “Breaking Bad” spinoff.) It’s Junior Brown at his best, singing about people doing their worst.
Lydia Loveless & Cory Brannon — Prince Covers Split Single 7” (limited run/regional)
Last year, Bloodshot Records went for some laffs with an April Fools joke about an album of Prince covers. Thing is, people really wanted it. So they’re releasing a single of Lydia Loveless covering “I Would Die 4 U” and Cory Branan doing “Under The Cherry Moon.” It’s on purple vinyl, because it must be.
Gram Parsons/Lemonheads — Brass Buttons 7”
Another installment in Rhino’s Side by Side series that pairs two artists singing the same song.
Tegan and Sara — Live at Zia Records 12”
This talented twin duo is releasing a recording from one of their many in-stores at Zia Record Exchange in Phoenix, AZ. The aqua blue record (unless you buy it at Zia, where you can score a purple version) features four songs, including “Back in Your Head.”
Todd Snider — Impending Doom 7”
The A side is a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Shattered,” and the B side is “Backlash,” an unreleased Todd Snider original.
Some Other Great Finds/Vinyl Reissues
- Grayson Capps — If You Knew My Mind 10th Anniversary Reissue 2 LPs
- Neko Case — Fox Confessor Brings the Flood LP
- Johnny Cash — Konzert v Praze (Live in Prague) 12”
- Courtney Barnett — Kim’s Caravan 12”
- The Decemberists — Picaresque LP
- Bob Dylan — The Night we Called it a Day 7”
- Bob Dylan — The Basement Tapes, LP and 180g mono LP
- Steve Earle/Robert Johnson — Terraplane 10”
- Willie Nelson — Teatro LP
- Chris Stapleton — In Stereo 10”
- Robert Earl Keen — Gringo Honeymoon LP
- Dolly Parton — The Grass is Blue 12”
- Doc and Merle Watson — Ballads from the Gap LP
- Rockabye Baby — Lullaby Renditions of Grateful Dead LP
And, for those of you who aren’t up for braving the crowds this weekend, now’s a good time to chime in with thoughts about honest-to-goodness record stores — the kind that are racing book stores for a place on the endangered species list. What is (or was) your favorite record store? I’ll always have a soft spot for my first: Spec Records in DeLand, FL. But I have to give a shout to Easy Street Records on Lower Queen Anne in Seattle (RIP) and the amazing Harvest Records here in Asheville, NC (long may it run).