Another year…another Black Friday. Yes, it’s that time of year again in which consumers start off the holiday shopping season on a mad, frenetic note. This year is another one in which numerous big-box retailers in the U.S. have made headlines by blackening Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day itself, by sales starting on the holiday. So many might give thanks that the folks behind Record Store Day are waiting until the traditional Friday to release their twice-yearly slate of exclusive releases.
As usual, many top artists are represented, from Bob Dylan to U2, with titles aimed coming from both the new and catalogue ends of the spectrum. With that in mind, Mike and I have once again selected our picks for the crème de la crème of titles being released this Friday. Don’t hesitate to head over and drop by your local independent record store, and don’t fear the crowds. With everybody at the mall, the Black Friday RSD event is usually a bit more manageable than the April festivities. You can find a full list of RSD Back to Black Friday exclusives (and a list of participating shops) here.
Without further ado, we’ll kick things off with five of Joe’s favorite slabs of vinyl due on Friday…
Let’s go ahead and say it: 2013 has been The Year of Nilsson. Legacy’s well-curated sampler The Essential Nilsson whetted appetites for its crown jewel box set The RCA Albums Collection, and that landmark collection was followed by the first-ever CD reissue of Flash Harry on Varese Vintage. Now, Legacy caps off this yearlong celebration with the 180-gram vinyl release of a Nilsson album that never was. Sessions 1967-1975, adorned with Steve Stanley’s wonderful original artwork created for the box set, features twelve of the best Nilsson tracks you might not have known – and won’t soon forget. An alternate of “One” (“…is the loneliest number you’ll ever know”) and a demo of “Coconut” sit alongside John Lennon’s “Isolation” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Marry Me a Little” on this remarkable distillation of a singular musical life. To vinyl collectors who already own the box, Sessions is a fine complement. To those who don’t…you’re in for a treat. Doctor’s Orders: Put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning.
Van Dyke Parks, “Come to the Sunshine” b/w “Farther Along” 7-inch single (Sundazed)
Musical iconoclast (and close pal and collaborator of Harry Nilsson) Van Dyke Parks returns with a replica 45 of his 1966 single, originally on the MGM label. “Come to the Sunshine” has proved a rallying cry for the sunshine pop genre, covered by artists including Harpers Bizarre – who included it as the very first track on their debut album. One part jazz, one part vaudeville, one part psychedelia and all- infectious, the intricately arranged “Come to the Sunshine” is packaged by the Sundazed crew in a new sleeve with a period photo of Parks and new liner notes from California pop historian Domenic Priore.
Ernie Kovacs, A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas (Omnivore)
Omnivore has our candidate for the wackiest release of the Christmas season – or is that the Christmath theathon? Yes, everyone’s favorite lisping poet is back. And if Ernie Kovacs’ kooky creation isn’t your favorite lisping poet, he might well be once you take a chance on A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas. “The Night Before Christmas on New York’s Fashionable East Side” is a most unique Christmas Eve tale, and it’s joined on this festive vinyl 10-inch picture disc by five more of Dovetonsils’ rather refined poems. Grab your smoking jacket (zebra pattern not required) and your glasses (painted-on eyeballs optional, as well) and rest in your easy chair with some of the strangest – and most strangely enjoyable – odes you’ll hear this holiday season.
The Doors, Curated by Record Store Day (Elektra/Rhino)
This 180-gram LP offers eight rare studio and live tracks from Jim, Ray, Robby and John including four mono mixes (“Break on Through,” “Soul Kitchen,” “Moonlight Drive” and “When the Music’s Over”) plus the LP version of “Love Street,” “The Unknown Soldier” from the Hollywood Bowl in 1968, “Roadhouse Blues” from New York’s Felt Forum in 1970, and “Five to One” from Boston, also 1970. All tracks have been remastered by Bruce Botnick, and surviving Doors Robby Krieger and John Densmore have hand-written the track listing on the artwork.
Roy Orbison, The Monument Vinyl Box (Legacy)
Here, then, is a Monumental 4-LP box for a Monumental artist. The Big O immortalized such heartbreakingly dramatic mini-operas as “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “Running Scared” and “Blue Bayou,” all of which you’ll hear on the first three LPs in this new vinyl box set: Lonely and Blue, Crying and In Dreams. The fourth LP is a wholly new creation: an Oh! Pretty Woman album featuring the title track, “Ooby Dooby,” “Claudette,” and other tracks handpicked by Orbison’s sons. This one will sure look great under the tree – wrapped in some pretty paper, of course.
After the jump: Mike selects his five picks for Back to Black Friday!
As someone who’s been covering catalogue music on The Second Disc for nearly four(!) years, one of my favorite aspects of Record Store Day titles is not only having another neat collectible to listen to, but what these releases might be hinting at or cross-selling. For instance, Legacy has two titles – the Uncle Tupelo and Nas singles – that are sort of opening up for a main event in 2014 (new deluxe editions of No Depression and Illmatic, respectively). So I’m certainly happy to get this cassette-only EP of Duran Duran kicking it acoustically on their 1993 comeback trail…but I’m also happy that, with a new owner in charge of the boys’ classic masters (Parlophone now being owned by Warner Music Group), we could be seeing some more catalogue activity. (Sure, all of the band’s ’80s albums have been given the deluxe treatment, but I’m confident we’ll see something new and cool in the next year or two.)
“Can you honestly tell me that you forgot? Forgot the magnetism of Robin Zander, or the charisma of Rick Nielsen?” Fast Times At Ridgemont High‘s Mike Damone was easily the least likable character in the 1982 teen classic, but even he got at least one thing right. This box looks to get it right, too, collecting newly-remastered versions of Cheap Trick, In Color, Heaven Tonight, At Budokan and Dream Police – which, I might remind you, were recorded by Rockford’s finest in a two-year period. And I’m sure we can expect great replica packaging, down to the full-color insert inside At Budokan, to go with these great albums.
The sweet holiday tradition of the late, great Denver mixing it up with Jim Henson’s lovable Muppet gang has, thankfully, come back into print in recent years after a lengthy absence (who still has their old Laserlight Digital CD pressings?). And as gimmicky as some of us might find picture vinyl, I’m as ready as anyone to laugh along with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and all the rest on fresh-pressed wax – not to mention those emotions when they all join in on “Where the River Meets the Sea.”
I’ve been waiting to see what Razor & Tie’s licensing of the Stiff catalogue is going to mean for stateside listeners, and this looks to be among the first concrete proof. With one of my favorite pop songs enclosed herein (Tracey Ullman’s “They Don’t Know”), plus great sides from Kirsty MacColl, The Plasmatics and more (including a Mint Juleps 45 that was mistakenly never released), this set (as would befit the label) looks certainly worth a f***.
Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll was one of my favorite albums this year, in which the reformed Illinois quartet presented another clutch of soulful, singable, heart-on-sleeve pop-rock anthems – a perfect continuation of their major-label evolution since 2005’s Under the Cork Tree. Their next step is wildly intriguing: cutting a 13-minute EP of decidedly unpolished punk cuts with producer Ryan Adams. It’s been available for awhile digitally, but I’d like to hear Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley cutting through my turntable speakers with this double 7″ set.