What started out in 2008 with a handful of independent record stores banding together to raise the visibility and importance of independent record stores has turned into a massive celebration of the roles these stores play in creating a vibrant music community. Today, there are participating Record Store Day stores on every continent except Antarctica. There were only 15 releases that first year. Now, just 12 years later, there are over 500 official releases to choose from. And holy hell, there’s a lot of good ones in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few of my picks:
Out on vinyl for the first time. Not only does this record sound great, but it is also really significant in the development of Record Store Day. Recorded live in 2005 at Easy Street Records in West Seattle, the performance was in support of the Coalition of Independent Record Stores, which at the time was only about 15 stores. The CD came out in 2006 and was only available at select independent stores — an incredible and bold show of support from one of the biggest rock bands in the world, this ultimately played a role in independent record stores across the country coming together to form a bigger coalition which in turn helped result in the launch of Record Store Day in 2008. So, you could say that without Pearl Jam’s Live at Easy Street there would be no Record Store Day!
John Lennon’s masterpiece (one of them at least!) in raw performance form. No overdubs, one additional instrumentation, no reverb on John’s vocals, no studio effects, just the core band performing live in the studio. A very emotionally visceral version of the album and a new way to hear this classic
Finally, on vinyl, the debut EP Meat from the band that had my number one album of 2018, IDLES! This totally rocks — but we knew it would!!! It also comes with the remix EP Meta with remixes from David Pajo (Slint), Thom (Alt J), Pete Robertson (The Vaccines, Sunan), and Sly One.
I’d heard about this proto-punk/grunge record for years — Grant Hart used to rave about it to me. The little bits I heard from them previously always seemed a little more on the boogie side than what I was expecting. Maybe I was listening to the wrong album or an earlier album, cuz Thank Christ for the Bomb IS THE BOMB! Driving, propulsive, prog rock that actually rocks. For prog rock, most songs are pretty short (3-5 minutes) that, while having tons of interesting twists and turns, never seems indulgent.
Rare and unreleased 1967/68 recordings from the group that became Parliament/Funkadelic.
Re-issue of the LA-based synth pop’s debut album originally released in 2007.
A few copies of this test pressing were circulated in 1975. This release is a duplicate of the test pressing and contains different versions of songs that ended up being re-recorded for the commercial release of Blood on the Tracks.
On the remix front, I’m loving the John Grant Remixes Are Also Magic EP — especially the Anna Meredith’s remix of “Voodoo Doll” and the Blancmange remix of “Touch and Go.” Also, get your freak on with Oliver Heldens remix of Chic’s “Le Freak.”
There’s a ton of awesome live releases including a blistering and brilliant Ramones set recorded at the Palladium on New Year’s Eve 1979, Green River's Live at the Tropicana 1984, the Grateful Dead The Warfield acoustic sets, and the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young classic 4 Way Street with bonus tracks.
Box sets abound this year, with highlights including collections from Emmylou Harris, Devo, and Todd Rundgren. And, the box set celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Sugar Hill Records featuring early rap classics from Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and the Sugar Hill Gang.
Get out there and support your favorite indie record store. Have fun, and remember, every day is record store day!!!