Welcome to our annual rundown of Must-Haves for this year’s Record Store Day event! Once you’re through reading, let us know what you’re most looking forward to picking up tomorrow at your favorite local independent retailer! Our list features just a sampling of our favorites from our friends at Legacy Recordings, Varese Sarabande, Rhino Records, Walt Disney Records, Real Gone Music, Omnivore Recordings, and many more!
Mike’s kicking things off…
This year’s Record Store Day offerings include some excellent archival live releases and a couple cool looking packages I wouldn’t mind adding to my shelves. Here are five of my most anticipated titles for Saturday!
Elton John, 17-11-70+ (Mercury/UMC/USM)
What a pleasant surprise! 17-11-70 (or 11-17-70, for wacky Americans like me) is a hell of a live album, and getting the whole show on vinyl after more than 45 years is a real treat. (I wouldn’t say no to a CD version someday, either!)
The Cars, Live At The Agora, 1978 (Elektra/Rhino)
Another archival live release for Record Store Day (that I’d love to own on CD sometime, too!) comes from Rhino, capturing The Cars as they were just getting their start as one of the best American bands of their generation. (My good friend Matt Wardlaw did a wonderful deep dive on this release over at Cleveland Scene yesterday that you simply must read.)
Mark Mulcahy, The Possum in the Driveway (Mezzotint)
You’ve heard me go wild about Mulcahy’s band Miracle Legion, but his entire output is stocked with winners. That’s why I can’t wait to check out his brand-new album (which Mulcahy wryly noted in the press release “took years off my life to make,” owing to a series of health and safety misfortunes that delayed the record over time). Surely it’ll be easier to listen to than it was to make!
Prince, Little Red Corvette/1999 (Warner Bros. Records)
I’m already dreading my mood today, the one-year anniversary of losing Prince. (It would be nice if that Purple Rain reissue track list gets confirmed; as of this writing, nothing doing.) So I wouldn’t mind indulging this reproduced Prince picture disc, from his first (but hardly last) plateau of commercial success.
John Williams, Star Wars: A New Hope (Walt Disney Records)
I don’t agree with the repertoire on this 10″ single; both sides (“Main Title,” a Top 10 hit in the summer of ’77) and (“The Throne Room and End Title”) feature half the same music (“Main Title” being an album edit of the main title theme and the end credits suite, a staple of Williams’ live concerts). But darn it, it’s the 40th anniversary of Star Wars and that trailer for The Last Jedi has got me hyped for anything with a Skywalker in or on it.
Now, it’s time for Joe’s picks…
Johnny Mathis, Wonderful! Wonderful! / When Sunny Gets Blue (Columbia/Legacy)
Johnny Mathis’ first commercial single release for Columbia Records, with the ebullient “Wonderful! Wonderful!” backed with the beautifully melancholy “When Sunny Gets Blue,” set the romantic balladeer on a career that continues unabated to this very day. Mathis, celebrating 60 years on Columbia, is soon set to release his newest set on the label, a collection overseen by Clive Davis which features his silken interpretations of today’s greatest songs. Here’s a perfect chance to revisit where it all began for the eternally youthful vocalist.
Varese Vintage has a pair of rare classic rock LPs harkening back to the psychedelic era. The Easybeats’ Vigil has never received a proper U.S. release before; the original American release (as well as the British one) replaced a number of George Young and Harry Vanda’s original songs with far less interesting covers. Varese replicates the original 1968 Australian version of the album, in punchy mono, featuring twelve originals that are catchy and surprisingly hard-rocking for fans who only know “Friday on My Mind.” Nicky Hopkins supplies the piano-pounding on this rare delight. It’s joined by Procol Harum’s sophomore album Shine On Brightly, also from 1968, in its U.S. iteration as originally released on A&M. The original band line-up remained intact for this LP which solidified Procol’s place in the burgeoning progressive firmament and moved even further away from the group’s blues and beat roots. This was largely due to its 17-minute-plus closing track, the song suite “In Held ‘Twas In I.” This one is packaged in a beautiful gatefold cover. Both titles have been newly remastered for vinyl!
This year’s RSD festivities offer not one, but two, titles from the late David Bowie. These “pretty things” include a never-before-released 1974 concert (which we fervently hope will make its way to the CD format, as well) from the Philly Dogs Tour, as well as a box set replica of an impossibly rare 1971 promotional disc featuring early, alternate versions of a number of songs which would appear in final form on Hunky Dory. Any unreleased or rare Bowie is cause for rejoicing, and these two titles should be no different.
Ben Folds and the West Australia Symphony Orchestra, Live in Perth (Epic/Legacy)
Here at Second Disc HQ, we’re big fans of Ben Folds – heck, we even interviewed him way back in 2011! Legacy has a special treatment for longtime fans of the quirky pop artist with Live in Perth. This 2-LP set was recorded over two evenings in Australia in 2005 in which Folds was able to utilize a full symphony to realize his own orchestral fantasies. Folds ballad favorites like “Boxing,” “Brick” and “The Luckiest” shine in this setting, as do the rocking renditions of “Steven’s Last Night in Town,” “Annie Waits,” and “Zak and Sara.” This set, handsomely packaged in a gatefold sleeve, is the first audio release of music from the concerts, which were previously issued on DVD only, plus previously unissued performances of “Gracie” and “All U Can Eat.” A digital download sweetens the pot!
Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson (RCA/Legacy)
With 1971’s Nilsson Schmilsson, Harry Nilsson shed his lightly psychedelic, baroque pop inclinations and instead indulged in an album of down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll – which became his most successful LP ever. Produced by Richard Perry, Nilsson Schmilsson is a muscular, soulful, and expectedly quirky document of the artist at the height of his powers – as well as a true “band” record with players including Klaus Voormann, Caleb Quaye, Chris Spedding, Herbie Flowers, Jim Gordon, Jim Keltner, Bobby Keys, and Jimmy Webb. Nilsson’s newly-adopted, organic approach to songwriting may have led to less cerebral material, but it paid off. With the clattering rock of “Jump into the Fire,” the novelty-ish “Coconut” and the sweeping, Grammy-winning reinterpretation of Badfinger’s “Without You” all sharing one album, Nilsson created a rock era masterpiece. Legacy’s reissue is pressed on split yellow and white vinyl, and includes a 12 x 24″ foldout poster of the bathrobed artist, as well as a digital download!
Dennis Wilson, Bambu: The Caribou Sessions (Legacy)
The late Beach Boy Dennis Wilson intended Bambu to be the follow up to his remarkable solo debut Pacific Ocean Blue, yet the album sessions languished without an official release until 2008 – some 25 years after Wilson’s tragic death in 1983 – as part of a Pacific Ocean Blue deluxe package from Legacy. Bambu, with such quintessential Dennis tracks as “Love Surrounds Me” and “Wild Situation,” has never received a standalone issue until now. On his solo works, Dennis combined the melancholy beauty of his brother Brian’s best with his own raw sensibility and gritty voice; Bambu is a powerful reminder of the troubled artist’s often overlooked gifts. This beautiful 2-LP, 16-track release is pressed on green vinyl, and housed in an attractive gatefold jacket with new artwork. It features new liner notes by Ken Sharp reflecting on Bambu and Dennis Wilson’s enormous legacy. A digital download is also included on this absolutely essential release for Beach Boys fans and beyond.
Big Star, Complete Third – Volume 3: Final Masters (Omnivore)
Omnivore finishes off its LP version of last year’s comprehensive box dedicated to Big Star’s climactic Third with this new volume containing every released master recording from every officially released version of Third on three sides of vinyl. Even as a standalone release without Vols. 1 and 2, this set makes for a cool expanded edition of a cult favorite album. Sweetening the deal, Vol. 3 will be available on RSD in a slipcase edition leaving room for the first two volumes. And don’t worry; if you’re looking for the album only without the slipcase, it will be coming to general retail down the road!
Last, but not least, Randy makes his choices below!
Cheap Trick – The Epic Archive Vol. 1 (1975-1979) (Real Gone Music)
This 2-LP yellow vinyl is the first physical edition of this compilation previously only available on digital download, but with one new track added. These outtakes and rarities come from Cheap Trick’s classic period and make for very interesting listening for fans of the band. Real Gone has a CD edition of this release coming out next Friday. This vinyl edition contains the same liner notes as the CD issue. They also have a vinyl version of their A Message from the Meters compilation, featuring The Meters’ complete singles from 1968-1977 available on RSD.
The Goo Goo Dolls – Pick Pockets, Petty Thieves and Tiny Victories (1987-1995) (Warner Bros.) & Randy Newman – Lonely at the Top 1968-1977 (Nonesuch)
RSD usually has exclusive box sets and this year is no exception. These two are certainly different flavors of music but both feature the first five albums by each artist. The Goo Goo Dolls set features everything up to the band’s breakout album A Boy Named Goo from 1995 and features two vinyl debuts as well as one U.S. vinyl debut (because who thought 30 years ago vinyl would make such a resurgence?). The Newman set features an attractive package of Randy’s classic early studio LPs, and a bonus 45 RPM single with rare alternate versions of “You Can Leave Your Hat On” and “Last Night I Had A Dream.” A major factor of RSD releases is presentation, and the albums in these sets have been beautifully restored by Now Sounds’ Steve Stanley. The music on both of these is excellent, as well!
Dolly Parton – Puppy Love b/w Girl Left Alone (Yep Roc Records)
The future country superstar recorded her first single in 1959 when she was just 13 years old. It was issued on the small Louisiana label, Goldband Records. These songs have been reissued on CD, including on Parton’s 2009 boxset Dolly, but Yep Roc is replicating the original single as closely as possible. There’s under four minutes of music here, but these two Parton co-written songs preview her future career and make for an interesting historical artifact.
Toto – Africa b/w Rosanna (Columbia/Legacy)
I always like the unusually shaped vinyls on RSD and this one fits the bill – it’s shaped like the continent of Africa. It replicates a limited edition 7″ single from 1982, but has been sized up to 12″ for this new release. These are two of Toto’s (who celebrate their 40th anniversary this year) biggest hits off the smash album Toto IV. The B-side features a picture of Rosanna Arquette (as on the original pressing) – the inspiration for the song “Rosanna.”
The Zombies – A Rose for Emily (Cello Version) b/w This Will Be Our Year (Varese Vintage)
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the recording of The Zombies’ most acclaimed album, Odessey and Oracle. In researching the recent CD reissue, another alternate, unreleased version of “A Rose for Emily” with cello accompaniment was discovered, which makes its debut here. This is a different version than some other alternates of the song which have appeared over the years and it is interesting to compare them. The B-side is the original version of “This Will Be Our Year.”
And in honor of Record Store Day’s 10th anniversary, here are 10 other items worth a look:
Johnny Cash, The Johnny Cash Children’s Album (Columbia/Legacy)
Too often, Johnny Cash is simply viewed as The Man in Black. And while the multi-faceted singer-songwriter didn’t wear a rainbow every day, he did have his moments. One such moment was The Johnny Cash Children’s Album. The 1975 release showcased the lighter side of Cash on eleven tracks, including duets with June Carter Cash (naturally!). One such duet, “I Got a Boy (And His Name is John),” was about their son John Carter Cash – who is now all grown up and providing the liner notes for Legacy’s new LP reissue. This release features a digital download of the entire album, as well. The Johnny Cash Children’s Album is not only sing-along fun for kids of all ages, but a testament to the enduring power and versatility of its legendary artist.
Fleetwood Mac – Alternate Mirage (Rhino/Warner Bros.) – If you didn’t pick up last year’s deluxe reissue of 1982’s Mirage, here’s your chance to hear a version of the album made completely of alternate takes culled from the box.
Emmylou Harris, Queen of the Silver Dollar: Studio Albums 1975-1979 (Nonesuch)
Like the Randy Newman and Goo Goo Dolls sets, this box collects five classic studio albums from a halcyon period. In addition to the country queen’s seminal albums, it also has a bonus holiday single of “Light in the Stable” b/w “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings: The Centennial Collection (Legacy) – While this material has been reissued too many times to count, it is undeniably classic and this is the first time all of Johnson’s recorded work is available in one vinyl package.
Ani-Frid Lyngstad – Frida (Parlophone) – The future ABBA member’s 1971 solo album is completely sung in Swedish and features covers of “Suzanne,” “The Sound of Silence” and “Everything’s Alright” from Jesus Christ Superstar.
Paul McCartney – Cassette Demo (Capitol Records/UMe) – While not making up for the fact that these weren’t available physically on the Flowers in the Dirt box set, these Paul McCartney/Elvis Costello demos are worth hearing and the fact they are on cassette as originally presented is fun.
Pink Floyd – Interstellar Overdrive (Pink Floyd Records/Legacy) – Somehow missing the cut on last year’s massive Pink Floyd box set, this is your first chance to hear a nearly fifteen minute long alternate version of the instrumental from 1967’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Ramones – ’76-’79 Singles Box (Rhino/Sire) – A box set featuring 10 singles from the from the punk rock legends during this seminal four year period.
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes – Live from E Street (Jukesville) – While not a reissue (it is taken from a 2015 private concert), this should be fun with Southside Johnny covering four songs from fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen.
Sting – Live from the Bataclan (Interscope) – Also not a reissue, this 12″ LP features six songs from Sting’s November 2016 concert which reopened the Paris venue after the terror attacks in 2015.