Let the Great World Spin
Flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. Baseball season is in full swing. Safe to say that Spring has officially sprung, folks. That can mean only one thing Record Store Day is almost here! Believe it or not, 2017 marks 10 years for the glorious event. And the RSD team is marking the milestone with another insane slate of releases.
Wait, you don’t know what Record Store Day is? Short answer – it’s the indie record store community’s attempt to drive music lovers back to buying physical copies of music … preferably in brick and mortar shops. If you wanna know the full story, click here for the down and dirty details. Just know that Record Store Day is the perfect opportunity for you to shop locally and support your community – not to mention an outstanding chance to lay your hands on some seriously choice wax. Now that you’re up to speed, let’s have a look at some of the sweeter releases hitting bins this Saturday.
Before we do, please note that these releases are ALL LIMITED PRESSINGS! You’ll be lucky to find more than a couple of these discs at any given store this weekend. If there’s a title you’re absolutely dying for on the list, do not sleep in. Be at that record store the second they open. Trust me.
In honor of RSD’s big B-Day, here’s 10 sweet releases worth queuing for this weekend:
- Luna Penthouse: (RSD Exclusive, 3500 copies, Remastered, 2XLP) – Love them or hate them (there never seems to be much middle ground) Luna was one of the most influential bands of the ‘90s. The band released five albums between 1992 and 1999. Penthouse is the middle child of those releases. It’s as close to a masterpiece as anything the band produced. Yes, Penthouse has been pressed to vinyl before. But not like this. The full album has been remastered and it will come with a second disc full of rare or unreleased material. That will include the band’s iconic cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ (w/vocals from Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier). And my God, if you haven’t heard that track before then vinyl is the only way you should hear it.
- The Black Angels Death Song (RSD First, 2000 copies, glow-in-the-dark vinyl) – Few bands have shaped the psych-rock explosion of the past decade as much as The Black Angels. By that standard, any new music the band releases arrives with ‘must listen’ status. But it’s been three long years since we’ve had any new music from the group. The Angels are finally returning to the fold with the release of Death Song. If the lead singles are any indication, Death Song is going be a brutal piece of work. The album is actually releasing proper on April 21. Let’s be honest, if you dig this band you’re going to buy this album. If you can wait an extra day, you’ll have a chance to scoop this limited glow-in-the-dark edition complete with a blacklight friendly cover. Usually, that sort of gimmickry would put me off of a release. But I really can’t imagine listening to a new Black Angels disc any other way. Now, does anyone remember where I hid my blacklight?
- Vic Chesnutt West of Rome (RSD Exclusive, first time on vinyl, 1500 copies) – It’s hard to believe that so many people still haven’t heard Vic Chesnutt’s music. Over his 30 year career, the singer/songwriter released 17 albums worth of unique, elegiac anti-Americana. He amassed waves of critical praise along the way. And he did so after a 1983 car accident left him partially paralyzed. He played guitar for pete’s sake and he could barely move his hands. It’s a hell of a harrowing story, but somehow Chesnutt never quite broke through to the mainstream. If you don’t know his work, now’s the time to get acquainted. West of Rome was the second album Chesnutt released. It was produced by Michael Stipe. It’s widely regarded as Chesnutt’s best work. And it stands as a haunting yet poignant celebration of the tragedies and the triumphs of a life perched ever on the fringe of the world. Did I mention this album has never been pressed on vinyl? Vic Chesnutt. Vinyl. Do it.
- Föllakzoid and J. Spaceman London Sessions (RSD First, Limited Run, 850 copies) – Föllakzoid has been pushing the boundaries of psychedelic rock for a little over a decade now. J. Spaceman (Spiritualized, Spacemen 3) has been doing it even longer. It should come as no surprise that the experimental rockers struck up a friendship when they met backstage at London’s Electric Ballroom a few years back. The London Sessions are the product of that friendship. Recorded live-to-tape in a private studio last summer, the album sees Spaceman & Co. laying down alternate versions of two tracks (‘Earth’ & ‘Electric’) from Föllakzoid’s 2015 album III and pushing those songs into sonic realms unheard in any of their prior work. At least that’s what they claim. This is a day-of release for Record Store Day. That means you might be the first of your buddies to hear these songs reimagined. Good luck hi-fiving yourself on that one.
- The Cinematic Orchestra Ma Fleur (RSD Limited Run, 800 copies, 2XLP, colored vinyl) – You’re probably a fan of Ma Fleur’s closing track already … if only because ‘To Build A Home’ is one of those achingly romantic songs that’s so masterfully realized it lingers inside of you for eons after you first hear it. And yes, you have heard it. Maybe in a commercial. Maybe on TV. Possibly in a film or two. You might even have sought out the music of the man (Patrick Watson) who sang it. If not then you should, ‘cause Watson is pretty great. That being said, I’m quite certain that you haven’t listened to the rest of the album. And that’s a shame. ‘Cause Ma Fleur is a stunning piece of work. Its 10 songs shift style and tone and color with staggering grace and make for a deeply rewarding listening experience. One that’s been out of print for several years. It’s finally back on the format it deserves. Don’t miss it this go round.
- Dexter Gordon Walk the Blues (RSD Exclusive, 1750 copies, colored wax) – No Record Store Day would be complete without a few sick jazz releases. This one is no different. Dexter Gordon’s Walk the Blues might be this year’s crown jewel. These live recordings are culled from Gordon’s two day stint at Copenhagen’s Jazzhus Montmartre in 1967. While Gordon and his quartet reportedly recorded a few albums worth of material over that period, Walk the Blues covers tracks recorded from the second night only. And they may well be Gordon’s finest, the legendary tenor-saxophonist building a supremely relaxed mood by filling the legendary club with a sound both expansive and electric. These recordings have never been released on wax. Their vinyl debut comes via a 180g audiophile pressing from the one and only Pallas plant in Germany. Call yourself a jazz fan? Prove it by picking up this slick little number come Saturday.
- Trevor Jones Original Soundtrack to The Dark Crystal (RSD Exclusive, 1500 copies, ‘crystal’ clear vinyl) – Everyone seems to have a story about the first time they watched The Dark Crystal. Mine involves a dingy VHS tape, a solo late night viewing, and several weeks of nightmares. Don’t laugh. Those puppets are scary, man. To be honest, it was a couple of years before I could sit down and watch the Jim Henson classic again. I had a lot more fun the second time around. And in every viewing since. But it was during that second screening that I found myself awed by the majesty and the menace of Trevor Jones’ music. The swirling synths and booming horns and ghostly organs cast a wondrously ominous tone over Henson’s film. They cast a similar spell over my hyper-active imagination as a kid too. Those songs are collected here in celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary. It’s the first time the album has been issued on vinyl since the film’s release. So now’s as good a time as any to listen to this score on its own. During the daytime. With the lights on.
- George Carlin Jammin’ in New York (RST Limited Run, 955 copies, 1st time on vinyl) – I don’t usually flip over comedy albums on vinyl. But George Carlin is not just any comedian. There may not be another comedian in history who skewered sex, politics, culture, psychology, religion, and language in so bleak and so hilarious a fashion. As far as I’m concerned his ‘Seven Dirty Words’ routine remains the pinnacle of socially conscious comedy. Jammin’ in New York records his classic concert from Madison Square Garden in April of 1992. It aired on HBO later that year. That HBO special was my introduction to Carlin’s standup. And it was the first time that I fully grasped the social significance of comedy. I bought the live recording of this show on CD back in 1993. I’ve since misplaced it. And I can’t wait to get my hands on this wax.
- Ciao Manhattan Original Soundtrack (Official RSD title, 2700 copies, ‘Angel Shock’ colored wax) – Model, actor, muse … Edie Sedgwick was the ‘it girl’ of New York’s pop-art era. She spent time in Andy Warhol’s Factory. She inspired iconic songs from The Velvet Underground (‘Femme Fatale’) and Bob Dylan (‘Just Like a Woman’). Like so many others on that scene, she was also a raging drug addict. As such, Sedgwick’s life was a mix of the charmed and the tragic. That’s the stuff of great cinema. 1972’s Ciao! Manhattan was the film her life inspired. It was once dubbed “the Citizen Kane of the drug generation.” It should come as no surprise that music played a major role in the film’s impact. Somehow, the soundtrack has NEVER been released on ANY format. Now it’s getting the vinyl treatment. Combining music from artists of the era with Gino Piserchio’s heavy synth score and dialogue from the film itself, this release is certain to capture the eerie mood and the psychedelic spirit of the age as well as the tragic spiral of Sedgwick’s own life. This one has been a long time in the making. And it’s not to be missed.
- Nico & The Faction The Last Sessions (RSD Exclusive, 1400 copies) – Speaking of ‘60s pop-art paramours, few stood taller than Nico. And few have cast a longer shadow over the cultural landscape since. Her personal style remains a constant source of inspiration in the fashion world. Her vocal style and intense, experimental compositions have influenced everyone from Bauhaus and Morrisey to Björk and Elliott Smith. And the murky, unhinged nature of her solo work is often cited as a forbearer of the ‘goth’ sound. The Last Sessions documents Nico’s last ever performance circa 1988 in West Berlin. The songs collected here were composed with her backup band ‘The Faction’ specifically for the performance. They promise a unique view into the final days of one of music’s biggest influencers. They’ve never been released outside of Europe. And they’ve never been released on vinyl. Now’s your chance to own this stunning piece of rock history.
Trust me, there’s more. I didn’t even mention that Thelonious Monk Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 release. Or that Sire Records 50th anniversary compilation. Not to mention all those Prince reissues. Gah. So much wax, so little time. But hey, what are birthdays for if not for overindulging? I for one am looking forward to helping Record Store Day celebrate 10 glorious years in style. You can too by checking the full list of the year’s releases in this handy PDF. If you wanna find the closest participating record store, just click here. Happy hunting, my friends.