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, Real Gone Music, Demon Music Group, Walt Disney Records, Omnivore Recordings, and more!
Joe’s kicking things off with five essential picks (in alphabetical order)!
The Beau Brummels, Bradley’s Barn [Expanded Edition] (Run Out Groove)
Before Abbey Road or Caribou, The Beau Brummels immortalized a famous recording studio as the title of Bradley’s Barn, their 1968 album for Warner Bros. Records. The San Francisco pop-rock outfit had travelled to Nashville, Tennessee to record at Owen Bradley’s storied venue at roughly the same time their contemporaries, The Byrds, were on the other side of town cutting Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Though the “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” hitmakers beat the Brummels to the punch with a release date of a few months earlier, Bradley’s Barn made similar strides in defining the sound of what would become known as “country-rock.” Run Out Groove is giving this classic a lavish vinyl pressing, newly mastered by Pete Weiss, with a bonus disc of demos and alternate versions from the 2011 Rhino Handmade deluxe CD edition. Essential!
David Bowie, Bowie Now/Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78)/Let’s Dance (Full-Length Demo) (Parlophone)
2018 is very much The Year of David Bowie – but then again, what year isn’t? Bowie has four releases this RSD, including three from Parlophone. (The fourth is a reissue of his eponymous, quite underrated Deram album.) Parlophone is offering a new, remastered pressing of the rare 1978 promo album Bowie Now (featuring songs from Low and “Heroes”); the triple-disc live LP Welcome to the Blackout from Bowie’s 1978 Isolar II World Tour; and the physical debut on 12-inch vinyl of the original, full-length demo of “Let’s Dance” as newly mixed by original producer Nile Rodgers. The late artist’s remarkable musical legacy remains a constant source of fascination, and these limited editions look to be compelling new additions to his library.
Johnny Mathis, I Love My Lady (Columbia/Legacy – limited to 2,000 copies)
At long last! Johnny Mathis’ I Love My Lady, written and produced for the superstar artist by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of CHIC, was slated for release by Columbia Records in fall 1982. But the album was shelved, becoming one of the great “lost” albums. It took over 35 years for it to be released on CD, and now, it finally arrives in its original format on vinyl LP. Very much of a piece with both artists’ finest work, I Love My Lady melded Mathis’ romantic sensibility with CHIC’s sleek brand of guitar-driven R&B/funk. Its eight lengthy songs were conceived as one album, but the moods and tempi happily vary. With sizzling dancefloor anthems suitable for 1982 or 2018, this bold statement from Mathis and CHIC is one lost album that lives up to the hype. It isn’t to be missed. Look for it on clear smoke vinyl!
Lulu, Heaven and Earth and the Stars (Demon)
Coinciding with the great lady’s return to the West End stage in 42nd Street, Demon has a reissue of Lulu’s 1976 album Heaven and Earth and the Stars for Record Store Day U.K. (and also available at final retailers in the U.S.)! In addition to her James Bond theme The Man with the Golden Gun penned by John Barry and Don Black, the original album also offered scorching versions of two songs written by David Bowie and produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson: “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Watch That Man.” This reissue, pressed on blue vinyl and boasting brand-new artwork, further celebrates those two tracks by presenting them on a special 7-inch, 45 RPM picture sleeve single included with the full LP. And that’s not all. Besides the Bowie and Barry tracks, Heaven and Earth and the Stars has six tracks from singer-songwriter Kenny Nolan’s including his buoyant, two-part “Take Your Mama for a Ride.” It’s all capped off with the attractive, Don Costa-arranged title ballad, and a song written by Lulu and her brother Billy Lawrie, “Baby I Don’t Care,” the arrangement of which recalls Lesley Duncan’s gorgeous “Love Song.” It’s all top-notch pop-rock from one of music’s most distinctive voices, wrapped up in a package that’s hard to beat.
Harry Nilsson (produced by John Lennon), Pussy Cats (Real Gone Music – limited to 1,500 copies)
Real Gone Music has a great lineup this year including titles from Tim Buckley, Blue Oyster Cult, and (see below) The Rascals – as well as this fabled collaboration. Harry Nilsson and John Lennon’s musical chronicle of the so-called Lost Weekend, remains one of the most controversial items in either man’s catalogue – but it’s a rip-roaring listen all the same. Nilsson introduces his “new” rasp of a voice, ravaged from drugs and alcohol but still powerfully compelling and ready to rock. Lennon contributed the sometimes-murky production as well as the background vocals and strings that look forward to his own work like “No. 9 Dream.” Typically-fine Nilsson originals appear alongside croaked renditions of favorite oldies, adding up to an album unlike any other. Real Gone has pressed it on “hardwood” colored vinyl in a gatefold jacket. It’s enough to make RSD part of your own Lost Weekend!
Here’s Randy’s top five!
Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison: 50th Anniversary Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy – limited to 2,500 copies)
Cash’s famous live album celebrates its 50th anniversary next month and Legacy is commemorating that with this 5-LP box set. The first four LPs replicate the content of the 40th anniversary 2-CD set and the 5th platter is a single featuring unreleased audio from a rehearsal the night before. You’ll get to hear both full concerts Cash and his friends (June Carter, Carl Perkins and The Statler Brothers) performed at Folsom State Prison in California in January, 1968 and experience why this is considered one of the best live albums of all time.
Led Zeppelin – “Friends” b/w “Rock and Roll” (Atlantic)
Also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, Led Zeppelin has never participated in RSD before, so it’s exciting to see their first entry. Both of these unreleased tracks were produced by Jimmy Page. The first is a different, rawer version of “Friends” off of 1970’s Led Zeppelin III recorded at Olympic Studios in London. The second is an unreleased “Sunset Surround” mix of “Rock and Roll” off of 1971’s Led Zeppelin IV. It joins the “Sunset Surround” mix of “Stairway to Heaven” from the 2014 reissue campaign (and also “When the Levee Breaks”, recorded at Sunset Surround and included on the original album). The 7″ single is colored yellow and comes with a shaped adaptor.
The Rascals – The Complete Singles A’s & B’s (Real Gone Music – limited to 1,000 copies)
Another RSD box set, this release is a vinyl version of Real Gone’s 2017 2-CD set. This beautiful collection features all of the singles the New Jersey band released during their existence in the late 1960s and early 1970s. You can trace their career from The Young Rascals to The Rascals and from Atlantic to Columbia, re-experiencing hits like “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Beautiful Morning,” and “People Got To Be Free.” The lavish, collectible package contains the liner notes from the original release and is the first time all of the group’s singles have been brought together on vinyl.
Bruce Springsteen – Greatest Hits (Columbia/Legacy – limited to 5,000 copies)
Springsteen’s first compilation from 1995 returns to vinyl. This is a companion to the forthcoming set The Album Collection Volume 2. Utilizing the remastered songs used in that series, this will be the only place you will be able to get a physical copy of the remasterings of “Secret Garden,” “Murder Incorporated,” “Blood Brothers” and “This Hard Land” in the versions which were featured on this album. The second Album Collection includes the Blood Brothers EP, which has alternate versions of some of these songs. This is an “RSD First Release,” meaning that this will be available everywhere eventually, but presumably not on the red vinyl of this edition.
Tangerine Dream – Zeit (Varese Sarabande – limited to 2,000 copies)
Following last year’s RSD release of Tangerine Dream’s debut album, Varese is releasing this limited edition of the German electronic band’s third album: Zeit, a 2-LP effort from 1972. The first album to feature the main trio of Edgar Froese, Peter Bauman and Chris Franke, Zeit is a rumination on the nature of time, featuring only one track on each LP side. It is considered one of the first “dark ambient” albums recorded. Varese’s new edition is presented on orange vinyl.
Bonus Pick: Belinda Carlisle – Wilder Shores (Demon Records – limited to 2,000 copies – RSD U.K.)
This is a U.K. RSD exclusive. Carlisle’s first album in ten years, 2017’s Wilder Shores was certainly a departure for the artist. Comprising a series of Sikh chants performed in Gurmukhi, it was inspired by Carlisle’s practice of Kundalini yoga. It also features new versions of “Long Time Sun” and “Heaven Is A Place on Earth.” While certainly different than what her fans her may have been expecting, it is an enjoyable effort worth checking out. This marks its vinyl debut and it is presented on translucent blue vinyl. Also included is an exclusive bonus 7″ of “Why” b/w “Superstar,” which were newly recorded last year for the 30th anniversary edition of the Heaven on Earth album.
But we couldn’t settle on just the above titles! Here are some more of our favorite picks!
Beaver and the Trappers, Happiness is Havin’/In Misery (Sundazed)
Who could have expected this? The fine folks at Sundazed have uncovered a real rarity for the young at heart: the 1966 garage rock single by Jerry Mathers, a.k.a. The Beaver – and, to sweeten the pot, the Beav has even written new liner notes! Don’t tell Eddie Haskell, but this is one of our most anticipated RSD 45s!
Chris Bell, “I Am the Cosmos” b/w “You and Your Sister” (Omnivore – limited to 1,300 copies)
Omnivore continues to tell the Big Star story with a special collectible from late co-founder Chris Bell: a replica of his 1978 single in a new gatefold jacket, with a color booklet included, too.
Marc Bolan and T Rex, The Final Cuts (Demon)
In another Record Store Day U.K. entry, Demon has also revisited The Final Cuts, the 2006 collection from Marc Bolan and T Rex compiling Bolan’s final recordings prior to his untimely death in September 1977. This rarities collection has been pressed as a picture disc. Its fifteen selections are culled from the period of October 1976 and April 1977, and show the famed glam rocker exploring different directions in his music. There are alternates from the final albums released in Bolan’s lifetime (Futuristic Dragon and Dandy in the Underworld) as well as outtakes. Bolan’s wife (and a top-drawer vocalist in her own right) Gloria Jones appears on a couple of tracks, including “Tame My Tiger” and a reworking of the Phil Spector oldie, here titled “To Know You is to Love You.” The original album cover is on Side One of the picture disc, while Side Two is adorned with photos of Bolan circa the year of his death. This RSD release makes for an attractive tribute to the still-beloved performer.
Eric Clapton – Complete Clapton (Warner Brothers – Limited to 3,000 copies)
A 4-LP set of the 2007 CD compilation which coincided with Clapton’s autobiography, this also includes a bonus single of “The Shape You’re In” b/w “See What Love Can Do.” Warner is also putting out a limited vinyl of Clapton’s soundtrack to the film Rush.
Elvis Costello, Someone Else’s Heart (Yep Roc – limited to 2,600 copies)
Leave it to E.C. to surprise fans at every turn; this time, it’s with an unreleased cover of an album track from Squeeze’s East Side Story (which Costello produced), backed by members of The Roots including drummer Questlove and guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas. Based on the 45 RPM sleeve design, it’s not impossible to imagine a host of artists taking this classic album on – which is a great idea for a tribute album, if it’s not already in the offing.
Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get It On (45th Anniversary) (Motown/UMe – Limited to 1,000 copies) and Sexual Healing: The Remixes (Columbia/Legacy – limited to 3,000 copies)
You can pick up two items from the soul legend this RSD: either a new edition of the 1973 classic Motown album pressed on 180-gram red vinyl or a 12″ single featuring seven versions (some making their vinyl debut) of Gaye’s final pop hit from 1982.
Bobbie Gentry, Live at the BBC (Universal U.K.)
Bobbie Gentry’s country music career burned brightly for a relatively short period of time – until the artist exited the public stage and headed for the very private life she still lives today. Until now, no live BBC material has ever been released from Gentry, so this release is a particularly exciting one. It features eleven tracks from the great storyteller including, of course, her magnum opus “Ode to Billie Joe.”
Elton John vs. Pnau, Good Morning To The Night (Virgin – limited to 1,100 copies)
Fans are obviously going to get a lot of mileage from Elton John’s back catalogue as he embarks on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour through the rest of the decade. If you’ve heard the hits all you want, check out this sprightly 2012 remix album, which takes multitrack elements of Elton’s ’70s album cuts to create new, dancefloor-ready songs.
Madonna – The First Album (Sire Records – limited to 5,300 copies) and You Can Dance (Sire Records – limited to 4,350 copies)
Both of these replicate editions from around the world. This version of the The First Album recreates the 1983 Japanese picture disc edition complete with the card insert, fold-out biography and lyrics, PVC outer and OBI sticker. The You Can Dance mirrors the European edition of Madonna’s first remix album with the poster and OBI strip, pressed on red vinyl.
The Police, Roxanne (A&M – limited to 2,000 copies)
Just as exciting as the chance to own the British trio’s breakthrough single on 45 RPM again is the hopeful projection that this is a sign of more catalogue adventures for Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland as their first album Outlandos d’Amour celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Soundtracks – Krush Groove (Varese Sarabande – limited to 1,500 copies) and Planet Terror (Varese Sarabande – limited to 2,000 copies)
Varese presents two fun soundtracks here. The first is the soundtrack to Krush Groove, the 1985 film based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings. The album is an early hip-hop classic and features songs by LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys, Beastie Boys and Force MDs, among others. It is presented on blue/orange vinyl. Then, Robert Rodriguez wrote the music himself for Planet Terror, his contribution to the 2007 double-feature Grindhouse. The score matches the over-the-top nature of the zombie film which starred Rose McGowan. It is presented on white vinyl.
John Williams – “The Rebellion is Reborn” b/w “Canto Bight” (Walt Disney Records – limited to 3,500 copies)
We always enjoy some of the unusually shaped vinyl that shows up on RSD. While The Last Jedi may have divided Star Wars fans, Williams’ music was undeniably great as always. This 10″ single presents two cuts from his score on vinyl shaped like one of the Porgs from the film.
Various Artists, Universal Love: Wedding Songs Reimagined (Legacy – limited to 5,000 copies)
Legacy has a remarkable release in support of marriage equality. Universal Love features Bob Dylan, St. Vincent, Kesha, Valerie June, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, and Kele Okereke reinventing classic standards and pop songs with a same-sex twist. These heartfelt renditions aren’t mere gimmicks, either, and the set lives up to its title in presenting a truly universal collection of love songs. Universal Love is also streaming now!