If you haven’t noticed already, I can definitely err on the side of music nerd, but even I can say the exhaustive list of exclusive releases for Record Store Day every year can be somewhat overwhelming.
And I realize that’s a really good problem to have, especially for vinyl lovers and collectors. Still, as a journalist, I have a hard time saying what “the best” releases are or which “top picks” you should be excited about for the once-a-year record shop event.
There’s just so much to listen to and read up on, from so many eras and genres it can make your head spin (in a good way).
So I’m going to give you a rundown of my personal dream list of releases I’d like to add to my collection this year. But I highly encourage everybody to go to Recordstoreday.com and skim through the list of hundreds of releases coming out Saturday at real, live music stores (locally, at Monster Music in West Ashley and Movies and its sister store, Cat’s Music, in Summerville).
Each album description offers something to sink your teeth into: why it’s being released or re-released, where it was recorded, who’s resurrecting what. It’s a beautiful symphony in itself.
So here’s my wish list, maybe they’ll make some appearances on yours, too.
“The Basement Tapes” by Bob Dylan and The Band. While Bob Dylan recovered from a motorcycle accident in 1967 in Woodstock, N.Y., members of his band, then known as The Hawks, now known as The Band, visited and informally collaborated with him on some cover songs and rootsy originals. Given the backdrop of his most recent album (see Page E14), the traditional standards and folk covers Dylan recorded in 1967 highlight his lifelong love affair with old-fashion music.
Elvis Presley’s first ever recording. Yes, you read that correctly. Jack White of the White Stripes and mastermind of Third Man Records purchased the original acetate copy of Presley’s first-ever studio recordings, “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” at an auction in January for $300,000. White, being the typical knight-in-shining-armor of the music industry, had the recordings transferred to 10-inch vinyls that will be sold to the masses on Record Store Day. And the best news yet, Galen Hudson, owner of Monster Music and Movies, said he’ll have plenty of copies in stock Saturday. Thank you, thank you very much.
“Live at the Fillmore East” by Sly and the Family Stone. This album title is most often associated with the Allman Brothers Band, whose 1971 recording is considered one of the greatest live albums of all time. But I’d argue Sly and the Family Stone’s performance at the Fillmore in 1968 could be right up there on the legendary scale. This concert came just before the “Everyday People” single would make them a household name, so this two-night live recording captured their raw spirit just before reaching commercial success. A high-energy, multicultural and mixed-gender band, Sly and the Family Stone was unlike any other group at the time, and this album illustrates how they pioneered new territory for the funk era of the ’70s. I picture myself opening all the windows in my house and blasting this as loud as possible every Saturday morning this summer.
“Live Harvest” by Blitzen Trapper. I’m including this record in my wish list more out of curiosity than anything else. Because a modern folk outlet covering any of Neil Young’s older records is a pretty bold move, especially in a live setting. I really like Blitzen Trapper mostly for the fuzzy guitar riffs and catchy rhythms, while Young is my cerebral go-to. I’m going to give the band the benefit of the doubt and say they wouldn’t release an album like this unless they could really get to the heart of Young’s earnest crooning, especially on the deeply personal “The Needle and the Damage Done.” We’ll see.
“Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” by Neko Case. I’ll admit I have this digital album, but something about Neko Case’s voice is just made for vinyl. This 2006 full-length is one of my favorites in the country singer’s vault, partly because of the guest appearance by The Band’s Garth Hudson in songs like “Margaret vs. Pauline.” His piano riffs are striking, almost haunting, which is so fitting for this storybook-themed album. The record has long been out of print, so the Record Store Day release is a rare chance to get a hard copy.
“Wake up to Find Out” by Grateful Dead. Somewhere deep in my soul lives a tie-dye-clad hippie who just can’t get enough of the Grateful Dead, despite the millions of times she’s heard songs like “Jack Straw” and “Ramble on Rose,” classics that populate this 1990 recording from a Uniondale, New York, concert. It was released last year on CD as part of the “Spring 90 (The Other One),” box set, but this is its vinyl debut. Without tickets to the Grateful Dead 50th Reunion Concert coming up in July, this record just might be my own personal way to celebrate the band’s timeless music.
Music geekdom aside, Record Store Day at Monster Music and Movies and Cat’s Music has something for everybody, not just collectors. On Saturday, the shops are hosting free all-day events with live music, food, games and storewide sales from 15 percent to 35 percent off.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.