Record Store Day’s little-sis adjunct, the Black Friday edition, typically only includes about a third the amount of titles as the main event in April. But since the said big kahuna got put off and split between three “RSD Drops” weekends in August, September and October, this weekend’s Black Friday spinoff doesn’t feel so minimal by comparison, but more like the fourth and final monthly drop in a row. Is it a “drops”-dead event? Is this year’s BF lineup a BFD? With 131 exclusive limited editions up for grabs, here’s a subjective list of highlights that may make it worth giving up your online shopping-only vow for a day.
Aimee Mann, “Bachelor No. 2: 20th Anniversary Edition”
(2xLP, 4000 copies)
As stated in our interview with Mann, the only previous LP edition of Mann’s turning-point solo album was an extremely limited Mobile Fidelity audio pressing that’s hard to find for less than $300 on the second-hand market. You might want to trade in your MoFi anyway, should you have been quick or lucky enough to land one, for this serious “Bachelor No. 2.1” upgrade. It adds five bonus tracks (mostly from the “Magnolia” soundtrack), thoughtfully resequenced what is now a double-album to incorporate then, puts a similar but new spin on the album jacket, and adds liner notes full of 20-years-later thoughts about all 18 tracks. Plus, it’s a nice day for a green (vinyl) wedding.
Bill Evans, “Live at Ronnie Scott’s (1968)”
(2xLP, 4000 copies)
Can Record Store Day regulars ever get enough of Resonance Records’ signature line of perpetually rediscovered Evans rarities? Banish the heretical thought. The late jazz pianist that some consider the artform’s undefeated greatest gets his fifth release of previously unreleased material from the nonprofit label, with a double-LP culled from a peak period and combo, his 1968 trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The latter player is still among us and was a major participant in this typically elaborate Resonance presentation, sitting for a joint interview with Chick Corea (whom he went on to play with after leaving Evans’ employ). The most unusual wrinkle: an interview between archival producer Zev Feldman (who just earned a Grammy nomination for Resonance’s boxed set of early Nat King Cole from last year) and major jazz head Chevy Chase, who befriended Evans in his pre-“SNL” days and shares insights gleaned from driving the legend to east coast gigs. For fans, the reading material alone is worth the price of admission. (For those without a turntable, or those who find that waiting till Small Business Saturday to pick up this easy sellout didn’t pan out, “Ronnie Scott’s” does come out on CD a week later.)
John Prine, “The Asylum Years”
(3xLP, 2000 copies)
Rhino’s first boxed set of five Prine LPs, “The Atlantic Years,” released on an RSD Drops date in September, disappeared off indie store shelves instantaneously — no surprise given the smallish 2000-copy pressing and attention to the master singer-songwriter following his tragic COVID-related death in the spring. The same will likely hold true for this sequel, which bundles the three albums that followed. In the interim came a CD boxed set that includes all eight albums from Atlantic plus Asylum, so that may make this LP set slightly less mandatory, but for purchasing purposes consider it a ripe, not bruised, orange.
Drive-By Truckers, “Plan 9 Records July 13, 2006”
(3xLP, 3800 copies)
When news of this three-LP set’s impending arrival went up recently, fans asked Jason Isbell on Twitter if he was still part of the Truckers when this live show was recorded. To make that determination, he asked the fan asked what month it was from — that’s how near to his exit it went down. (For the record, his departure was made official in the spring of the following year, so it wasn’t quite that close a call, but close enough.) Any lineup of Drive-By Truckers is worth hearing from at triple-album length, so Isbell’s presence shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, but it will make this one especially mandatory for fans who consider the Hood/Cooley/Isbell front line on a Beatlesque level as embarrassments-of-frontman-riches go. The packaging for the numbered edition is meant to involve a bootleg, or at least DIY sensibility, with what looks like band flyers glued onto the front and back of a plain white cover. Lest anyone mistake the official New West release for gray-market vinyl, among the extras inside the package are a replica ticket, a full-color gig poster and a page’s worth of liner notes from Patterson Hood, who’s exceedingly candid about the many personal and professional challenges the group faced in the middle of one of its toughest years — but which, he says, culminated in “one of the best performances from that era of the band” (at a 200-capacity, two-hour benefit show done on break from frustratedly doing half-hour opening sets for the Black Crowes). As always, it’s a “Goddamn Lonely Love” the DBTs celebrate, and a glorious one, too.
Little Richard, “Southern Child”
(LP, 1800 copies)
One of the more intriguing subgenres of archival material is the Shelved Album — those occasional releases that still pop up that were actually planned for official release as a studio album and even had cover art planned, if not catalog numbers, before some label exec (usually) said, “Why are we putting this out, again?” A particularly tasty example of the form is this bumped Bumps Blackwell production, which was set to come out in 1972 before someone thought better of issuing Little Richard’s idea of a C&W album at a point when neither he nor country were necessarily at their coolest. It was our loss: the record’s actually quite strong. despite the cover photo of Mr. Penniman milking a cow maybe not auguring for greatness. And don’t let the high-concept country tag throw you off, if that’s not necessarily your thing; it’s more of a Southern-flavored roots-rock that’s more Memphis grits than Nashville countrypolitan. The other 1970s Little Richard albums in Omnivore’s ongoing line aren’t limited editions; if you have any affection for those, don’t sleep on this one.
The Rolling Stones, “Let It Bleed (Collector’s Edition)”
(LP, 900 copies)
This certainly counts as the most controversial release of this weekend’s lineup, for those who follow RSD-BF beefs. It’s mostly to do with the price tag of $100 for a non-audiophile-grade, not entirely deluxe reissue: ABKCO, which owns rights to the band’s material up through this release, is justifying the price tag with what’s described as a “hand-poured” edition that makes for a more artisanal and arguably more beautiful piece of multi-colored vinyl. The pressing amount is so low that chances are you won’t be faced with making the call on this one, if it seems like a tough one, with far more than 900 stores participating in RSD, most will get just one copy in if they get any at all. Flippers making an investment may be the primary market here, and while fan complaints about the cost may be justifiable, unboxing videos show that the disc is quite pretty, if letting translucent colors bleed in an objet d’art is your thing.
Alanis Morissette, “Live at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 2020”
(2xLP, 3000 copies)
Although RSD’s live releases skew heavily toward the classic-rock era, it’s not too soon to feel nostalgia for the classic era of the first two and a half months of 2020, when we could still see shows. Morissette had a good occasion to revive her debut album, “Jagged Little Pill,” in concert in its entirety at the beginning of the year, with the Broadway debut of the legit stage musical of the same name impending. (Never mind that that the theater this goes down in is closer to the West End than Off Broadway.) Morissette is accompanied solely by two guitarists for this performance, which may help sate the thirst of “Pill”-heads waiting for Great White Way to find its way back.
U2, “Boy – 40th Anniversary Edition”
(LP, 10,000 copies)
U2, one of the most reliable Record Store Day supporters among major artists, has mostly been celebrating its 40th anniversary as a recording unit via RSD, first with an EP commemorating its first single and now with a celebratory reissue of the debut album, with white vinyl and the proper cover art being the distinguishing point of a release that’s fairly straight-up as these things go.
Fountains of Wayne, “Welcome Interstate Managers”
(2xLP, 2500 copies)
How is it that one of the greatest rock albums of the 21st century never had a vinyl release till now? Maybe the belated blessed event has been in the cards for a while, or maybe it took Adam Schlesinger’s coronavirus-related death this spring to provide a reminder and wakeup call that LP justice had not yet been served for his former group’s commercial (“Stacy’s Mom”) high point. An already longish CD gets boosted to even more justifiable double-LP length with the inclusion of two bonus tracks.
The Weeknd, “After Hours (Remixes)”
(12” EP, 5000 copies)
The Grammys definitely were not working for The Weeknd, this week. Fans can dry their shutout tears with the shrink-wrap from this vinyl edition of a six-track remixes-and-rarities addendum to the star’s unnominated album, which has already been out for streaming purposes since April.
Sonny Rollins, “Rollins in Holland: The 1967 Studio & Live Recordings”
(3xLP, 3500 copies)
As often as the Resonance label has celebrated Bill Evans (see above), this is its first trip to a Sonny Rollins well, and they aren’t holding back now that some rights have been acquired, compelling three different sets of music — one disc in the studio, two on the road — into their first-ever, typically extensively annotated tribute to the saxophone great. Unlike a lot of the other legends whose tapes have been discovered by the archeologically inclined label, Rollins is still with us, at 89, and “so happy that Resonance is putting it out because it really represents a take-no-prisoners type of music… that was sort of Sonny Rollins then – a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am approach.” We can be glad that, 53 years later, these Holland sessions have been successfully and publicly rescued from Nether-nether-land. (Also look for Resonance’s third release of the RSD day, Monty Alexander’s “Love You Madly: Live at Bubba’s,” which has been pressed with only about a third of the number of the Sonny Rollins title.
Uncle Tupelo, “Live at Lounge Ax — March 24, 1994”
(2xLP, 2000 copies)
Much as the Drive-By Truckers title mentioned above represents a multi-head hydra of a great band about to do some splintering, so does this 1994 live set from Uncle Tupelo, featuring the soon-to-be-unconjoined Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy tackling material like the Louvin Brothers’ “Great Atomic Power” and Creedence’s “Effigy” as well as their originals. The show has been widely bootlegged since it was first broadcast on WXRT, just a month or so before the group split up, but this adds tracks that haven’t been part of the boots, on top of presumably being better sourced or mastered. The 2000-copy limit ensures this will be scarce, though the “Record Store Day First” label implies a less limited edition coming down the pike someday.
Lou Reed, “Live At Alice Tully Hall – January 27, 1973 – 2nd Show”
(2xLP, 5000 copies)
Reed was still fairly freshly solo when he was captured with a fiery new band, the Tots, on the “Transformer” tour — in fact, this never-before-released double-album marks his first post-Velvet appearance on a New York stage (or at least the second night of it). Unpreviewed by these ears, the set is said by those who’ve heard it to be a moment of pure “Vicious”-ness. (For a later, more contemplative iteration of Reed, look for his “Magic and Loss” album, getting a vinyl edition for this very same day.)
Pop Smoke, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon”
(2xCD, 5000 copies)
If you’ve ever complained that Record Store Day only favors vinyl and unfairly leaves out the CD collector, here’s the rare exception to the rule. There are three posthumous releases coming from Pop Smoke for RSD Black Friday, in fact, and not one of them is an LP: There’s a CD issue of his “Meet th Woo” mixtape, and then a cassette of the deluxe edition of “Shoot for the Stars” as well as a compact disc. There’s a poetic justice to a CD being considered the real collectible in the hip-hop world, since most releases in that genre now are no longer issued in the format, with the vast majority of fans typically being just fine without any kind of physical edition at all.
Milton DeLugg & The Little Eskimos/The Fleshtones, “Hooray For Santa Claus”/”Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”
(7” single/DVD, 1500 copies)
“Silent Night, Deadly Night” soundtrack
(LP, 1500 copies)
Dave Brubeck, “Christmas Lullabies”
(12″ single, 2500 copies)
Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Christmas Time Is Here”
(7″ single, 2500 copies)
Juliana Hatfield, “Christmas Cactus”/”Red Poinsettia”
(7″ single, 1500 copies)
A few holiday titles always show up as part of RSD’s Black Friday adjunct, and these five represent a particularly eclectic crop of 7-to-12-inch-stocking stuffers. Hatfield is busting out two new originals for the A- and B-sides of a single that might be worth taking a Christmas-miracle chance on. Also previously unreleased is a pair of Christmas tracks the jazz legend Brubeck cut but never released in 2010, toward the end of his recording days (“Sleep Holy Infant” and “Away In A Manger”), on one side of a red vinyl 12-inch single and an etching on the other. It’s hard to imagine any music collection that doesn’t have a copy of Guaraldi’s original Charlie Brown classic somewhere therein, but shockingly, “Christmas Time Is Here” has never been issued as a single unto itself before, green or otherwise, and the B-side adds an alternate take previously available only as a bonus track. If you want to venture a little further outside the gift box, two Christmas film-related items are among the stranger oddities of this RSD. “Hooray for Santa Claus” takes an original track from the infamous 1965 wackadoodle film and backs it with the Fleshtones’ cover of the same, accompanied by a DVD of the film itself. The “Silent Night, Deadly Night” OST is not horror scoring but rather a collection of 10 original songs of actual playing-it-straight Christmas cheer that obviously were not intended to directly set the tone for the slasher-Santa movie. As bonus ephemera it also contains film strips from one of the many 35mm prints that is not being put to use for any family revival screenings near you. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like axe-mas.
Also be on the lookout for RSD items from artists as wide-ranging as My Chemical Romance, Sharon Jones, Puscifer, George Harrison, David Gilmour, DMX, Best Coast, the Beastie Boys, Elliott Smith, Lewis Capaldi, Karen Dalton, Dio and that 3-inch single= you’ve been looking for from Post Malone to fill out your mini-analog collection.
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