If you’ve been following these pages for the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed an awful lot of coverage about Record Store Day! Well, the day is nearly here! Tomorrow, Saturday, April 21, music fans and collectors will flock to their local independent record stores to celebrate both the sounds on those round black platters and the very concept of shopping in a physical retail environment. To many of us, both are a way of life. We’re doubly excited this year because one special title was co-produced by our very own Mike D.: Legacy Recordings’ Ecto-Green glow-in-the-dark vinyl single containing four versions of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.”
Each year around this time, we here at Second Disc HQ take a few moments to count down the titles to which we’re most looking forward to picking up! I’ll take my turn first, and then after the jump, you’ll find my colleague’s picks for some of the finest offerings you might find at your local retailer! And after you’ve picked up your share of these special collectibles, don’t hesitate to browse the regular racks, too…there’s likely even more treasure awaiting you.
You’ll find more information and a link to a downloadable PDF of the complete Record Store Day list right here, and please share your RSD 2014 experiences with us below. Don’t forget to click on the Record Store Day tag below, too, to access all of our RSD ’14 coverage. Happy Hunting!
- Henry Mancini and His Orchestra, The Pink Panther LP (RCA/Legacy Recordings)
On April 16, 2014, the great composer/conductor Henry Mancini would have turned 90. To mark the occasion, the all-new HenryMancini.com was launched, and Legacy announced plans for a yearlong celebration of the maestro’s enduring, engaging ouevre. The label has major plans including an 11-CD box set of Mancini’s soundtracks as well as a newly-curated retrospective, but the festivities kick off on Saturday with the release on eye-catching pink vinyl of Mancini’s original album of music from Blake Edwards’ all-time classic comedy caper The Pink Panther.
This soundtrack album (slated for expansion later this year for the movie’s 50th anniversary) was, as per Mancini’s custom, a re-recording of the film’s major themes for the record-buying audience. In addition to the now-famous, sly ‘n’ slinky title theme with saxophone by Plas Johnson (which went Top 40 as a single; the soundtrack itself went Top 10), other highlights of the score include “It Had Better Be Tonight,” an Italian-style love song recently covered by Michael Bublé and performed in the film by Fran Jeffries (and on disc by Mancini’s chorus), and “Something for Sellers,” a great example of Mancini’s feel for what we today think of as lounge music. Mancini’s “The Pink Panther” is currently the single most-streamed song in the entire Sony Music catalogue – a testament to the ongoing power of the gifted composer Henry Mancini.
- Randy Newman, Randy Newman (Mono LP) (Rhino)
Prior to the release of 1968’s self-titled debut, Randy Newman was a staff songwriter for Los Angeles’ Metric Music, a West Coast answer to the Brill Building where he worked alongside the likes of Jackie DeShannon honing his skills. The back of the LP, now being reissued for RSD in its original mono edition, read: “Randy Newman creates something new under the sun!” And while intended ironically (irony being one of Newman’s favorite weapons, always at the ready!), it wasn’t far from the truth. Produced by his childhood friend Lenny Waronker and quirky wunderkind Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman featured some scathing social commentary sheathed in large, gorgeous orchestrations by the composer himself. Even this early on, it was evident that Randy learned something from his uncles, Lionel and Alfred Newman, two of the most illustrious composers in Hollywood history. The young Newman was the rare talent equally gifted in both melody and lyrics. “Davy the Fat Boy” and “So Long, Dad” are uncomfortably hysterical, while “Love Story” plainly tells the story of a couple from marriage to death, playing checkers all day in a Florida nursing home. Newman’s unique humor was already in full bloom, to wit this exchange from “Love Story”: “We’ll have a kid/Or maybe we’ll rent one, He’s got to be straight/We don’t want a bent one.” All of these songs were delivered in his off-hand, growl of a drawl, providing a contrast to the beautiful arrangements. When Randy Newman turned serious, the results were heartbreaking and simple (though far from simplistic): “Living Without You” or the oft-covered “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” which managed to be both cynical and achingly sad. A major new talent had arrived.
- Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Transcriptions (Real Gone Music)
Vintage music from the pre-rock-and-roll era gets an airing on Record Store Day thanks to releases such as this one, along with other key releases from Omnivore Recordings and Blue Note Records. Here, Real Gone Music unearths 10 tracks from the King of Western Swing, four of which will remain exclusive to this vinyl release. These have been drawn from the more than 200 songs recorded by Wills for Tiffany Music, Inc. which remained under lock and key for years. (Wills recorded a total of almost 400 songs for Tiffany in 1946 and 1947.) This remastered release has been painstakingly designed after an original transcription disc. The vinyl is housed inside a replica package in the style of the actual mailers in which Tiffany discs were sent to radio stations in the 1940s – with “pre-distressed” trompe l’oeil wrinkles and wear on the record jacket and a cutaway hole infront showing the vintage Tiffany logo on the vinyl label, whichcontinues the Tiffany numbering system of assigning a recordnumber to each side. Furthering this tremendous attention to detail, the back cover also presents vintagegraphics from the period, and the records are pressed in the style of some of the original discs on 150-gram red vinyl. This release precedes Real Gone’s upcoming 2-CD set drawn from Wills’ Tiffany Transcriptions, and tracks include such songs as Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand.” Count me in!
- Various Artists, Live from High Fidelity: The Best of the Podcast Performances (Omnivore)
It wasn’t easy to choose from Omnivore Recordings’ great slate, including rare music from late legends Hank Williams and Jaco Pastorius, but Live from High Fidelity encapsulates the label’s dedication to preserving great music from all eras and genres. This 14-track translucent green vinyl release is drawn a podcast hosted by L.A.’s High Fidelity Records, and features contributions from some TSD favorites like Sam Phillips, Rhett Miller of The Old 97’s, members of Spain, and most especially, appearing for the second time on this small list, Mr. Van Dyke Parks. It’s about time podcast performances went physical, isn’t it?
- Ronnie Spector and the E Street Band, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go” / Eric Carmen, “Brand New Year (Alternate Mix)” b/w “Starting Over (Live 1976)” singles (Legacy)
Two of Legacy’s 7-inch singles caught our fancy this year. The label has followed up this year’s Playlist: The Very Best of Ronnie Spector with a replica 45 of “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go,” on which the former Ronette is backed by none other than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Arranged and produced by a certain Mr. Van Zandt – that’s Little Steven now, and Sugar Miami Steve circa this single’s original release – these 1977 sides are blazing rock-and-roll at its finest. Billy Joel’s A-side was a stunning Phil Spector homage in its original recording; with Ronnie on lead and Clarence Clemons honking on the sax, it became transcendent. Eric Carmen’s new “Brand New Day” also arrives on vinyl in a previously unreleased alternate mix supporting The Essential Eric Carmen, on which the song first appeared. Featuring Carmen supported by Jeffrey Foskett, Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko and Mike D’Amico of Brian Wilson’s band, this 2013 composition is vintage Carmen – lush, gorgeous and memorably melodic. You won’t want to miss these.
Honorable Mentions go to Rhino’s first-ever U.S. release of Fleetwood Mac‘s 1970 single “Dragonfly” b/w “Purple Dancer” and its excavation of the 1968 LP The Birthday Party from Jeff Lynne’s psych-pop pre-ELO band The Idle Race; plus Legacy’s painstakingly-recreated stereo LP of “King of Cool” Dean Martin‘s romantic long-player Dream with Dean on which he’s joined by a quartet for his most intimate jazz stylings; and Sundazed’s vinyl debut of two tracks by The Sunrays, the band that Murry Wilson intended to groom in the style of his former charges The Beach Boys. Murry’s own song “Won’t You Tell Me” features the legendary L.A. Wrecking Crew, and the band’s Rick Henn supplies new liner notes for this 45!
After the jump: take it away, Mr. Duquette!
MD: I devised my list of five Record Store Day titles I couldn’t wait to find this year knowing full well that I was going to have an obvious “sixth” choice: Legacy Recordings’ glow-in-the-dark 10″ single of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters,” released for the film’s 30th anniversary. As we’ve reported, I am one of the producers of this neat little set for Legacy, from a concept I pitched personally. It’s undoubtedly an exciting deeper dive into the catalogue world, and I’d be doing myself a disservice if I placed it on top of the list. Instead, I assume it’s caught the eyes of our most treasured readers and instead showcase five more titles for your consideration on Saturday.
– Ronnie Spector & The E Street Band, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go” (Epic/Legacy)
The sticker on this one says “as much talent and class as you can squeeze onto a 7″ single,” and by gosh, it’s hard to argue that. Billy Joel wrote this track, a highlight of 1976’s Turnstiles, with Spector in mind; a year later, she recorded it with perhaps the best match for her voice outside of The Wrecking Crew: The E Street Band, under the watchful eye of Steven Van Zandt as producer (and featuring Bruce Springsteen on acoustic guitar throughout). And the picture sleeve, featuring a jubilant group shot of Ronnie, Bruce, Steven, Max Weinberg, Gary Tallent, Roy Bittan and the dearly departed Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons, is a rock ‘n’ roll summit unlike any other.
– The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording (Walt Disney Records)
I’m as excited as anyone that Muppet mania is back in full swing – most recently with the pretty-good eighth Muppet theatrical feature, Muppets Most Wanted. I was elated with last year’s release of the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie on CD after a 20-year absence, but I’m not going to say no to a vinyl pressing featuring some of the greatest songs to ever grace a Muppet film. (It’s pretty great that, between this and a colored-vinyl edition of The Wizard of Oz, there are some neat film soundtrack pieces to enjoy this weekend.)
– The Pogues with Joe Strummer, Live in London (Rhino)
With all due respect to Spider Stacy, had the erstwhile frontman of The Clash been permanently slotted into The Pogues’ frontman spot after the departure of Shane MacGowan, we could have seen an even more amazing second act for the Celtic punk outfit. (It’s not that hard to imagine Strummer crooning “Tuesday Morning,” when you think about it.) As it is, last year’s Pogues 30 box gave us this mostly-unreleased concert, featuring strong renditions of Pogues and Clash material, and this vinyl release is the first time the set’s being released natively in the States. Hopefully I can get a copy (to place next to last year’s vinyl reissues of The Clash, naturally) without having to shout “Pogue mahone!” at my fellow customers.
– Paramore, “Ain’t It Fun” 12″ (Fueled by Ramen)
No music fan is infallible, least of all me. For instance, when I approached the fourth album by alt-pop group Paramore with apprehension, thinking that the acrimonious departure of guitarist and drummer Josh and Zac Farro would cripple the band’s sound, it was one of my biggest musical missteps last year. Paramore was one of the year’s best, with irresistible pop-punk hooks and grand-slam vocals from lead vocalist Hayley Williams that definitively earned the band a seat at the table of lauded, female-fronted crossover acts like Blondie and No Doubt. “Ain’t It Fun,” the latest single off the album, is a catchy number that dabbles in R&B (a gospel choir and everything!), and the “broken record” design of this single is probably the coolest look you’re going to see on shelves Saturday.
– Tears for Fears, Ready Boy and Girls (TAO)
I honestly never thought Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith would record any new music after the release of Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, Tears for Fears’ sixth album (and fourth with the core duo present). And I was honestly fine with that. Then, alongside the deluxe reissue of debut album The Hurting, TFF shocked fans with three pretty neat covers of bands who’ve clearly taken some cues from their dark New Wave style: Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start,” Hot Chip’s “And I Was a Boy from School” and Animal Collective’s “My Girls.” They were reverent to the originals but reminded audiences what great voices Roland and Curt still have – and this RSD 12″ single will enable fans like me to enjoy the covers away from the band’s Soundcloud page.