Tomorrow, Saturday, April 18, music fans and collectors will flock to their local independent record stores to celebrate both the sounds on those familiar round black platters and the cherished opportunity to shop for music in a physical retail environment. To many of us, both are a way of life. 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!
Our friend and founder, Mike Duquette, returns to these pages to kick things off with his list of five, followed by the picks from our newest contributor, Randy Fairman. I’ll then finish things off with my selections!
We, of course, can’t get to all our of our favorites here, and we can’t wait to hear your favorite RSD ’15 picks. And after you’ve picked up your share of these special collectibles on Saturday, don’t hesitate to browse the regular racks, too…there’s likely even more good stuff 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 ’15 experiences with us below. Don’t forget to click on the Record Store Day tag below, too, to access all of our previous RSD ’15 coverage. Happy Hunting!
Without further ado, here’s Mike’s Top 5!
1. Polaris, Music From The Adventures of Pete & Pete (Mezzotint)
Far and away the RSD release I am most excited for, Polaris wrote the soundtrack of my youth as the house band for my favorite childhood program, the surreal suburban comedy The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Formed from New Haven alt-pop band Miracle Legion, Polaris (Mark “Muggy” Mulcahy, Scott “Jersey” Boutier and Dave “Harris Polaris” McCaffrey) created jangly, immediately memorable tunes that captured all the weirdness and wonder of growing up, and shocked those now-grown up kids by reuniting and touring last year. If you missed them the first time around (not hard, since the album was only available with proofs of purchase from cereal boxes), don’t make the same mistake this Record Store Day.
2. Bee Gees, Extended (Reprise/Rhino)
Like some of you, I was happy that Bee Gees 1974-1979 was collecting Barry, Robin and Maurice’s most disco-friendly LPs on CD in one box, with a disc of non-LP material (mostly, of course, the beloved Saturday Night Fever songs) for good measure. Like some others, I was also bummed that the rare, vinyl-only extended versions of those hits–“Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “More Than a Woman” and “You Should Be Dancing”–didn’t make the cut on that bonus disc. At least Rhino was aware of what they had on their hands, though, since all four are making it to a special 12″ EP for this year’s Record Store Day.
3. Adam & The Ants, Kings of the Wild Frontier/Antmusic (CBS/Legacy)
In an ideal world, my best life would be lived with dandy clothes, white makeup and Burundi drums soundtracking my moves. Instead, I’ll have to make do with this seriously beautiful double-A side single, which replicates both original picture sleeves and is pressed on gold vinyl with replica CBS labels (and, for the European market, a little center hole in the 45 RPM single)!
4. The WWF Superstars, The Wrestling Album/Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II (Epic/Legacy)
It’s an open secret that, thanks mostly to my brother, I know a lot more about professional wrestling than your average music collector. I’m excited, then, to get Legacy’s double-vinyl set of both original WWF albums (before the World Wrestling Federation had to rebrand itself as World Wrestling Entertainment) on red and yellow Hulkamania-colored LPs. The albums themselves are a hoot, featuring tracks by such WWF luminaries as Koko B. Ware (“Piledriver”), Vince McMahon (“Stand Back”), Junkyard Dog (“Grab Them Cakes”) and Captain Lou Albano (with a guest appearance by background vocalist Mona Flambe, better known as Cyndi Lauper). Plus, who can forget Rick Derringer’s “Real American,” intended for the U.S. Express tag team but known around the world as the rousing theme for Hulk Hogan.
5. a-ha, Take on Me (30th Anniversary Single) (Warner Bros./Rhino)
Catalogue pieces by a-ha are always fondly considered at The Second Disc; I remember finding out about reissues of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days while waiting on line outside New York City’s Best Buy Theater to see the band make a rare U.S. appearance on their Ending on a High Note farewell tour. (The site hadn’t been up for six months yet!) Now, 2015 holds the promise of further reissues–a bigger edition of Hunting High and Low, plus expansions of the Norwegian band’s other three Warner albums (Stay on These Roads (1988), East of the Sun, West of the Moon (1990) and Memorial Beach (1993))–not to mention a new one-off a-ha album, Cast in Steel, and subsequent world tour. While I’m a bit perplexed this “Take on Me” picture single didn’t take more advantage of the music video motif (pencil-drawn sleeve and label, anyone?), it’ll make a fine addition to my collection of a-ha items, already bigger than more than half of the average American’s.
Now, it’s Randy’s turn!
1. Elvis Presley, “My Happiness”/”That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” (Third Man Records)
2. Simon and Garfunkel, “Homeward Bound”/”Leaves That Are Green” (Legacy)
This 7-inch single replicates the original 1966 Top 5 US/Top 10 UK single with the German cover art. While that is pretty good in and of itself as a collectable, what makes this release special is that it is in mono. You haven’t been able to hear Simon and Garfunkel’s songs in mono since their original releases as they have never been reissued that way. These RSD releases usually preview upcoming projects (although nothing is certain) so we can hope that this single means that more mono Simon and Garfunkel shall be making its way to store shelves soon.
3. Metallica, No Life Til Leather (Blackened)
This demo from Metallica contains early versions of songs that would appear on their debut album Kill Em All. While this demo has been circulated amongst fans for years, this is its first official release. While CD and LP versions (perhaps expanded with even more songs) are promised, this version on cassette replicates how the original was recorded. Like last year’s RSD Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack on cassette, it’s a nice bit of nostalgia.
4. Sly and the Family Stone, Live at the Fillmore East (Epic/Legacy)
This 2-12″ red and green colored vinyl set was not originally announced among the RSD offerings. It contains a best of selection of Sly and the Family Stone’s two-night, four show stand at the famous venue on October 4 and 5th, 1968. The recordings were made with a live album in mind, but that never materialized. Legacy has just announced that they are releasing all four shows in a 4-CD box set on July 17th (we’ll have more details for you on that soon). This “best-of” was compiled by Roots guitarist “Captain” Kirk Douglas. It contains the following tracks: “M’ Lady,” “Life,” “Are You Ready,” “Won’t Be Long,” “Color Me True,” We All Love (Freedom),” “Dance to the Music,” “Music Lover,” “Medley: Turn Me Loose/I Can’t Turn You Loose,” and “Country Jam.” While it will of course be great to hear all of the tracks, this can give you a sample of that music and with 11 songs is probably close to what would have been released back in the late 1960s had the live album actually come out.
5. Bruce Springsteen, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The River, Nebraska, Born in the U.S.A. (Legacy)
These are of course the seven albums that made up last years The Album Collection Vol. 1: 1973-1984 which came out in CD and LP versions. I found Bob Ludwig’s remasters for these records to be superb and brought out elements in the songs I had never heard before. This is the first opportunity you have to buy the new remasters separately from a box set, so it gives a good chance to sample the new mastering with your favorite album without having to commit to the whole set. Plus, being exact replicas of the original pressings is nice. My personal favorites are Born to Run and The River, but you can’t go wrong with any Springsteen material from this group.
And now, Joe’s Top 5…
1. The Dixie Cups, Chapel of Love (Varese Vintage)
Varese Vintage takes flight on RSD with Red Bird Records and a reissue of the label’s 1964 album by The Dixie Cups, named after that group’s smash chart-topper: Chapel of Love. This is an A-list release, with production by Red Bird’s founders Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and seven out of eleven tracks penned by Brill Building legends Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Two songs – the title track and “Gee, the Moon is Bright” – were co-written with Phil Spector. Happily, Chapel of Love – which also features the No. 12 Greenwich/Barry hit “People Say” and the No. 20 N’awlins stone-cold classic “Iko Iko” – receives an A-list reissue from producers Cary Mansfield and Bill Pitzonka, with beautifully recreated Red Bird labels on this 180-gram vinyl replica edition. The music of Barbara Ann Hawkins, Rosa Lee Hawkins and Joan Marie Johnson hasn’t sounded or looked this good since, well, 1964!
2. Various Artists, Sessions ’64!! (Omnivore)
I can’t wait to get my hands on this latest collectible from the Omnivore team – a release that’s so exciting, no fewer than two exclamation points will do!! This groovy 10-inch slab of translucent gold vinyl transports listeners back to 1964. It includes nine tracks produced by Brian Wilson and Jimmy Bowen for the Warner Bros. and Reprise Records labels, with arrangements from Wilson, Sandra Glantz (a.k.a. Ginger Blake from The Honeys) and California rock legend Gary Usher! Five of the songs are from The Honeys, while The Castells and The Timers are each represented with two tracks. Featuring mono masters, new stereo mixes and previously unreleased backing tracks, Sessions ’64!! should fill my pop needs and yours on Record Store Day. Spotlighting Brian Wilson’s work outside of The Beach Boys, this set may well prove the perfect complement to Brother Brian’s recent collaborative album No Pier Pressure.
3. Cassandra Wilson and Billie Holiday, You Go to My Head/The Mood That I’m In (Legacy)
Lady Day has been in the spotlight lately, both with Audra McDonald’s Tony Award-winning turn as the legendary singer on Broadway (and soon, on HBO) and with a variety of musical tributes celebrating what would have been her 100th birthday. One of the most affecting of these tributes has come from jazz chanteuse Cassandra Wilson, whose sublime interpretations of “You Go to My Head” and “The Mood That I’m In” have been paired on this new RSD release with Billie Holiday’s own renditions. While “You Go to My Head” is featured on Wilson’s Coming Forth by Day album, “The Mood” is an RSD-exclusive track, making this a must-have.
4. Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze” b/w “Freedom” (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)
This single previews a forthcoming release from Legacy and Experience Hendrix – Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival. Recorded on July 4, 1970, this single finds Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox serving up two blazing performances before the biggest audience of the late, great guitar hero’s career (300,000 – 400,000 people) at Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, Georgia. The concert was timed to Independence Day; indeed, even today, Hendrix’s performances stand as independently-minded, singular testaments to the man’s incendiary art.
5. Dionne Warwick and The Stranglers, “Walk on By” (Rhino)
Rhino’s Side by Side series presents one of the greatest hits penned by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, both in its original version (released in 1964) and The Stranglers’ 1978 new wave cover version. With Warwick’s classy, elegant reading juxtaposed with The Stranglers’ scorching reinvention, this 45 is ultimately a testament to the endurance of Bacharach’s melody and David’s lyric. Pressed on magenta and blue splattered vinyl, these tracks have never looked cooler!