Record Store Day – What Is It and Why Should You Care?
Record Store Day is a holiday for music fans. It happens annually, in mid April, and its main objective is to promote the independent record stores still in business in the US and around the world.
Every year record labels, both major and independent, create “Record Store Day Only” releases that are usually limited in number (often under 5,000 copies) and ONLY available to independent retailers. This means you can’t grab these titles at Wal Mart or Target, and you won’t find them online on Amazon – you have to visit your neighborhood record store to obtain them.
Most titles are available only on vinyl and often they feature something rare – demos, alternate versions, concerts – all which help add to their collectability. Clever packaging and colored vinyl are encouraged, and add an extra element to these releases.
So, Record Store Day becomes an event. You assemble a “want list” of things you’re looking for, you find out what time your local store will be opening, and you go stand in line with fellow music junkies. The day is a big shot in the arm to most stores, who all try to jockey to get copies of these scarce pieces.
What? You don’t have a turntable? No worries – they’re more accessible than they’ve been in years. An entry level model can be purchased for under $100. While certainly not high fidelity, it could open the door to the wonderful world of physical music.
To give you an idea of what kind of titles are available, here’s two examples of Record Store Day releases from 2016:
Fleetwood Mac – Alternate Tusk (Warner)
Previously only available on the multi-disc Deluxe version of Tusk, the Alternate has never been available as a stand-alone album. Despite being discarded at the time, many of these tracks rival the released versions. Tusk was a mess of emotions, and hearing these songs in less-polished form adds to their power. “What Makes You Think You’re the One” has more bite, while “Save Me a Place” is absolutely gorgeous in this different mix. The real treat is an previously unissued take of “Brown Eyes,” which features former Mac guitarist Peter Green providing a great interplay with Lindsey Buckingham.
This 2-LP set is pressed on heavy weight vinyl and sounds very quiet. The album jacket contains a never-before seen picture of the band circa 1979. These alternate versions are so good, they stand on their own.
Alanis Morissette – The Demos (1994-98) (Maverick / Rhino)
These demos were first made available as part of the 20th anniversary Deluxe Edition of Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, but have never been released on their own either. The tracks were recorded either during the sessions for Jagged Little Pill, or after (none are demos of songs that actually made the album). Especially good is “The Bottom Line,” the first song Morissette wrote with producer Glen Ballard, but probably left off because it wasn’t “edgy” enough.
The clear & red splotched colored vinyl makes this a real eye-catcher, and one that would look real nice when friends come to visit.
Hope to see you for Record Store Day 2017! —Tony Peters