From all of us here at Second Disc HQ to all of you, we hope you've enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving in the company of beloved family and friends. (And with plenty of delicious food, too!) Now, Record Store Day's annual Black Friday event is upon us, so we're spotlighting a dozen of the most eagerly anticipated releases arriving to your local independent brick-and-mortar record shop! Here are our personal picks for RSD BF must-haves; visit Record Store Day's official website for a list of participating retailers. Happy Listening, and have a great weekend! - Joe, Mike, and Randy
Aerosmith, 1971: The Road Starts Hear (UMe) (LP limited to 10,000 units/cassette limited to 2,000)
It's not that strange to see an Aerosmith title come from Universal Music Group; after all, the band's arena-sized comeback era was augmented by albums on the Geffen label, which UMG now owns. But the news that the Bad Boys from Boston would take their Columbia material on either side of that repertoire to UMG as well - the blues-rock breakthroughs of the '70s; the lean, fractious works into a new decade; and their elder-statesman pop/rock of the '90s and beyond - was a genuine shock. Luckily, it seems to have shaken the group into some genuine catalogue action with The Road Stars Hear, a heretofore-unheard document of a band rehearsal as the classic lineup of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford, and Joey Kramer was starting to coalesce (with all the big hits that established them as power players). If this is how Aerosmith's new deal starts, we can't wait to see what the loyal Blue Army will get to hear next.
Leonard Cohen, Songs of Love and Hate: 50th Anniversary (Columbia/Legacy) (Limited to 5,000 units)
Over five years after his passing at the age of 82, Leonard Cohen continues to influence singer-songwriters with his timeless discography. Legacy has revisited his third studio album, 1971's aptly-titled Songs of Love and Hate, on a 50th anniversary LP remastered by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios with vinyl lacquers cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound. Cohen's first three albums are of a piece, although each of these albums has its strengths and unique character. Producer Bob Johnston (Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash) first teamed with the Canadian poet-troubadour for his sophomore set, 1969's Songs from a Room. Johnston and Cohen cut the album in Nashville with a cast of musicians including Charlie Daniels, Ron Cornelius, and Bubba Fowler, all of whom returned to Columbia's Studio A in Music City for Songs of Love and Hate. (Paul Buckmaster would later add orchestration.) "Famous Blue Raincoat" (which later gave its title to Jennifer Warnes' acclaimed album of Cohen compositions) and "Joan of Arc" may be its most recognizable songs, the latter one of the finest expressions of Cohen's ability to channel the unexpected into something artful. The song depicts a dialogue between Joan and the fire which was about to consume her ("'And who are you?' she sternly spoke/To the one beneath the smoke/'Why, I'm fire,' he replied/'And I love your solitude, I love your pride'/'Then fire, make your body cold/I'm going to give you mine to hold'/Saying this, she climbed inside/To be his one, to be his only bride.") "Dress Rehearsal Rag," previously recorded by Judy Collins, is a fascinating, twisting song that is far weightier than its title would indicate: "But you've used up all your coupons /except the one that seems to be written on your wrist along with several thousand dreams/Now Santa Claus comes forward, that's a razor in his mitt; and he puts on his dark glasses and he shows you where to hit." Cohen's bold, hard-hitting, and bluntly-delivered musical statements were unlike those of any other writer, and he quickly shed the "new Dylan" tag applied to him. Songs of Love and Hate is a powerful, concise glimpse at his art in its early period. Legacy's 50th anniversary edition not only upgrades the sound, delivering detail in Johnston's crisp production, but is beautifully packaged with an embossed cover and an eight-page insert adapting the original LP's book and containing both credits and lyrics.
Michael Kamen, The Iron Giant (Varese Sarabande) (Limited to 2,200 units)
Originally scheduled for an RSD drop earlier in the year, this picture disc LP of Michael Kamen's score to the 1999 animated film is now coming out for the Black Friday drop. The Brad Bird-directed movie about a boy and the friend he makes in a giant alien robot was not a huge hit upon its release, but was critically acclaimed and is now happily viewed as a classic. Kamen, known for his scores to Die Hard and Lethal Weapon and coming off a collaboration with Metallica on their S&M album, was in a Bernard Hermann, 1950s-inspired mode for his music to the heartfelt film (his first score for an animated movie). Varese originally released the score back in 1999 and it has been on vinyl a couple of times: by Mondo in 2014 and by Varese in 2017. But this is the first picture disc presentation and should make a neat collectible for fans of the score and movie.
Carole King, In Concert: Live at the BBC (Legacy) (Limited to 6,500 units)
Five months and five days after the February 10, 1971 release of Tapestry, Carole King took the stage at London's BBC Television Centre for an intimate, live-in-the-studio concert. The July 15 performance, comprising eight songs, reprised seven from Tapestry with each one stripped down to its very essence. Now premiering on vinyl from Legacy Recordings (with accompanying video streaming on King's official YouTube channel), Carole King In Concert: Live at the BBC presents the singer-songwriter at her most earthy, raw, and real. She subtly commands attention accompanying herself on "I Feel the Earth Move" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" before inviting musical soulmate James Taylor (on acoustic guitar) and husband Charles Larkey (on bass) for an almost painfully affecting "So Far Away." The completely unvarnished, altogether immediate reading underscores its longing and vulnerability even more so than the immaculate studio version. Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar (guitar) joins King for a lithe "It's Too Late" before Kortchmar and Larkey's Jo Mama bandmates Ralph Schuckett (piano) and Joel O'Brien (drums) make a joyful noise on the rollicking "Smackwater Jack." The entire Jo Mama lineup save singer Abigail Haness had played on Tapestry; Haness got her turn here trading vocals with King on the moving "Way Over Yonder." In Concert concludes with pure and tender, voice-and-piano treatments of two Goffin/King classics which had been reinvented by the solo King on Tapestry and its predecessor Writer, respectively: "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Up on the Roof." We'll still love Carole King tomorrow...and the days, months, and years after that. Vic Anesini has mastered the audio for this RSD release which is housed in a single-pocket jacket with an inner sleeve of concert stills and credits. An MP3 download card is also included. Everything is all right, indeed.
John Legend, Once Again (Columbia/Legacy) (Limited to 5,800 units)
You might want to "Save Room" for this new 15th anniversary edition of the ubiquitous John Legend's sophomore album, 2006's Once Again. The LP built on the success and sound of the singer-songwriter's 2004 debut Get Lifted which yielded the hit ballad "Ordinary People" and netted Legend three Grammy Awards including Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Get Lifted bore the imprimatur of hip-hop guru Kanye West yet also possessed a retro soul sensibility, and that subtle blend of the contemporary and the classic continued on Once Again. Nowhere was this more evident than on the catchy Grammy-nominated first single "Save Room," built around a sample of Gabor Szabo's recording of the Classics IV's gentle hit "Stormy." Once Again found Legend, again writing or co-writing every track as well as co-producing many of them, expanding his musical vistas while keeping his elegant piano and smooth vocals out front. The eclectic LP anticipated Legend's ascent to multimedia superstardom (heck, he even played the lead in a television production of Jesus Christ Superstar!) and won him another Grammy for the rousing "Heaven," co-produced with his mentor West. Legacy's new edition premieres Once Again on vinyl (two gold-colored vinyl platters, to be precise). The single pocket jacket replicates the original album artwork and features its shimmering thirteen tracks sans any bonuses. Once Again captures this future EGOT recipient in full flight.
Little Feat, Electrif Lycanthrope: Live at Ultra-Sonic Studios, 1974 (Rhino) (2LP limited to 5,000 units, CD limited to 3,000)
This live show from Little Feat was performed at Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, NY for a small audience on September 9, 1974. It came just a month after the release of the band's album Feats Don't Fail Me Now and the 15-song setlist draws upon that album as well as 1972's Dixie Chicken. Featuring the line-up of Lowell George (guitar, vocals), Paul Barrere (guitar, vocals), Kenny Gradney (bass), Richie Hayward (drums, vocals), Sam Clayton (percussion, vocals), and Bill Payne (keyboards), this is Little Feat in their prime. The concert was previously only available in part on bootlegs; now the complete show is available to savor. The album is coming in two formats: as a 2-LP set (limited to 5,000 copies) and on CD (limited to 3,000 copies).
Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price, Big Hits Live from The Last of the Breed Tour (Top Hat) (Limited to 1,400 units)
Willie Nelson's 2007 double album Last of the Breed welcomed his friends Merle Haggard and Ray Price, and upon its success, the trio of country legends took their show on the road for a moving series of performances. Price would pass away in 2013, aged 87, and Haggard would follow in 2016 at the age of 79. This concert document captures the trio's mutual admiration society (backed superlatively by Asleep at the Wheel) on a series of their best-loved songs including Nelson's "Crazy" and "On the Road Again," Price's "Make the World Go Away," and Haggard's "Mama Tried" and "Okie from Muskogee." The original 2007 release had sixteen songs while a 2014 reissue had only thirteen; this vinyl debut reinstates "Night Life," co-authored by Willie and popularized by Price.
The Shangri-Las, The Best of the Red Bird and Mercury Recordings (Real Gone Music)
Although their discography is small (they only recorded two studio albums), The Shangri-Las became one of the most influential girl groups due to their sound and streetwise image. This 2-LP set gathers up 25 cuts from their time at Red Bird and Mercury, including their two biggest hits: "Remember (Walking in the Sand") and, of course, "Leader of the Pack." While there have been several other Shangri-Las compilations over the years, this is the most comprehensive to appear on vinyl. It has been remastered from the original tapes by Eliot Kissileff, and the difference to fans should be apparent upon listening. The deluxe package designed by John Sellards also includes an essay by Shangri-Las expert John Grecco and previously unseen photos. It comes on "tailpipe exhaust" swirl vinyl and is limited to 4,000 copies.
Dusty Springfield, The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971 (Real Gone Music)
We may be a bit biased here as this 2-LP set features liner notes from our very own Joe Marchese, but this Dusty Springfield compilation also contains some of the best music of not only her career, but of any career. Featuring several songs from the all-time classic album Dusty in Memphis (like the immortal "Son-of-a-Preacher Man") at the beginning, it goes on to include music she recorded with producers and songwriters including Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Thom Bell, and Jeff Barry. These classic soul tracks are all heard here in their original mono mixes, remastered from the original tapes by Mike Milchner at SonicVision. Released on CD by Real Gone in February, it is making its vinyl debut here. Housed in a gatefold package also containing rare photos, the set comes on ruby red vinyl and is limited to 3,000 copies.
The Staple Singers, The Twenty-Fifth Day of December (Craft Recordings)
Since this is Black Friday RSD, here is an LP to put you in the holiday mood. Released in 1962 on Riverside, this 12-track album finds the gospel/R&B group tackling the spiritual side of the holiday with songs ranging from "Go Tell It on the Mountain" to "Silent Night." The line-up is the classic one of Pops, Mavis, Yvonne, and Pervis, and the song selection makes a fine listening experience for Christmas. The last reissue of the album in the U.S. was on CD back in 2007. Craft is giving this a new all-analog remaster from Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio from the original tapes and presenting it on 180-gram vinyl in a tip-on jacket. It is limited to 3,125 copies.
Various Artists, At Home with The Munsters: Original TV Cast Album (BMG) (Limited to 3,000 units)
Though The Munsters only lasted two seasons on CBS, the sitcom about the residents of 1313 Mockingbird Lane has inspired feature films, television movies, reboots, and more. Among its tie-ins were two albums: a Decca platter simply entitled The Munsters which purported to be from "the newest teen-age singing group" (the actors were pictured on the cover but not heard on the LP) and this release receiving a first-time reissue today. At Home with The Munsters, on the children's label Golden Records, featured Fred Gwynne (Herman), Yvonne DeCarlo (Lily), Butch Patrick (Eddie), Pat Priest (Marilyn), and Al Lewis (Grandpa) in what resembles an episode for records (or radio) with stories and songs from the lovable family. With the original 1964 album fetching top dollar, this reissue is a must-have for TV comedy and even horror aficionados.
"Weird Al" Yankovic / Osaka Popstar, Beat on the Brat (Demented Punk) (Limited to 2,500 units)
Weird Al's cover of this Ramones classic has gotten a fair amount of mileage: it was on both a punk-flavored tribute album to Al's champion, radio host Dr. Demento; it was one of the last tracks on the Medium Rarities bonus disc included with the career-spanning (and Grammy-winning!) Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of "Weird Al" Yankovic, and it was also released this past Record Store Day as a truly one-of-a-kind (OK, one of 1,500) 3" vinyl singles. (Yes, you read that right.) It's back to normal 12" size for this EP, backed with an all-new cover of the same song by New York punk supergroup Osaka Popstar (Al's backing band on his track), plus a total of five live Ramones covers: two by Al (from his parody-free, intimate theatre trek the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour) and three by OP.