Record Store Day: The Unreleased Truth



Record Store Day has started to rear its head again. For some it’s just another Saturday when their usual carefree perambulation around town is interrupted by swaths of people standing in single file outside pokey record shops. For others it’s a day when they head down to their local record shop and pick up something to say they took part. But to others it’s a day to look forward to and celebrate. Usually I am in this category. I relish getting up at six o’clock on a Saturday morning to stand outside Rough Trade West for a few hours so I can pick up something special and wonderful. This usually happens, but this year I won’t be there. I have no doubt that the queue will be longer than last year and the atmosphere in the line will be more jubilant (as long as it’s dry). But I won’t know as I’ll be nowhere near Portobello Road.


The reason for this, despite what you read, is that the list isn’t great. When it was released a few weeks ago I look through it hoping to spot something as brilliant as the Michael Horovitz album last year, or the DJ Food single the year before. But this year there was nothing even close to it. Yes I did see a few things that I wouldn’t mind having, but nothing that would make me get up at six and spend a whole morning standing in line listening to others wax lyrical about the new Coldplay song or how excited they are about the new Lana Del Rey album (as I have done for the past few years).


This year’s list seems to be permeated with pointless re-issues. The releases that made me gag when I saw the original list were the Aerosmith albums. Rocks, Draw the Line, Night in the Rust and Rock in a Hard Place are all getting special Record Store Day releases. My question is why? These albums have never been out of print (as far as I’m aware) and remastered versions are already available. Why would anyone queue up and purchase these on Record Store Day? I know that if you are a massive fan you want everything on all formats (I’ve been guilty of this in the past), but you aren’t getting anything new for your money. When you eventually get home and play them, unless you have a state-of-the-art record player and speakers you probably won’t be able to tell the difference between the version in your hand and the one that is sitting on your shelf.  Basically it’s just plain greed on the behalf of Columbia. Before anyone starts to call me naïve, I know how the music industry works, I was there for over six years. Their job is the make money from the products that they have. I have no problem with this, but this feel totally different.


Another release that jumped out at me was Adam and the Ants-Dirk Wears White Sox. This is another album that has always been available. Why is this getting the Record Store Day treatment? Yes it’s 35 years old and Adam Ant is performing it live in April, so I can kind of see how the two would be tied together, but it’s the same thing as Aerosmith. If you are a fan and you want everything, but you aren’t getting anything new, apart from maybe a poster. It’s on white vinyl, but that doesn’t make it sound any different.


Right this is enough of the reissues, what about the new stuff. Alanis Morissette Live in Switzerland 2012 and Alice Cooper also live in Switzerland 2005. Both are poor releases. As far as I’m concerned there have only been a handful of good live albums, and while I haven’t heard either of these albums, I doubt that they’ll join that illustrious list.


Ray Parker Junior-Ghostbusters Theme on a glow in the dark picture disc. This does sound fun, and in a weird way I wouldn’t mind having it, but how often would I actually play it? Once, twice a year, if that? And does that equate to the £10+ price tag? Probably not. And this is another problem with Record Store Day. The price of the records has gone up again this year and I expect them to go up more next year too. Who can actually justify spending just shy of £100 one a few records, that may or may not even be that good? I thought that the original idea was to get normal people back in record shops, and not just the affluent? Being a music can is expensive at times, but this isn’t helping the normal fans who go without things just to support their favourite bands.


After all my bad mouthing there are some good things out this year, just not enough of them for me to want to wake up early and go and get them.


Damon Albarn’s double A-Side looks pretty good. Both songs will eventually appear on his debut, but it would be nice to get to hear more of it earlier.


The Brian Jonestown Massacre are releasing a split 12” with The Magic Castles. Both sides contain two tracks. I’d put this on my list if I was heading down.


The Flaming Lips and Devo have teamed up to release this split 7”. The tracks are Devo’s Gates of Steel. The Flaming Lips’ cover should be pretty special to top the original.


J Spaceman & Kid Millions. I don’t know a great deal about this release, but I expect it’s a live jam track. If it’s half as good as J Spaceman’s Guitar Loops release on Treader, we’ll be in for a treat. But will it be worth the £30 price tag? Probably not.


William Onyeabor-What?! looks set to be a release that flys off the shelf quickly!


RPM Turntable Football. Who doesn’t want a football match on a record?!?


If 2.0 is one of the few that I will miss out on buying this year. Last year’s comp was possibly the best comp of the year. The tracklisting’s for 2.0 look that this might happen again! If you see it, pick it up, as copies will be scarce!


Nick Cave & Warren Ellis-West of Memphis looks like one that should be sold out by the end of the day. I’ve heard that the music isn’t that great, but for any Cave completest this is a must!


The weirdest release of the day has to be Ron Jeremy’s Understanding and Appreciating Classical Music. I have no idea what this will actually be like, but I’m very interested to find out. Another one I’m sorry to miss!


Sasha Siem’s Proof single is another that I’d like to have. Released through my favourite label at the moment, North London’s Gearbox Records, this should be a perfect slice of jazz pop, but in a good way!


So after all my moaning there are a few that I wouldn’t mind, but there isn’t anything that is making me countdown the days though.


I’ve not mentioned this part of Record Store Day yet, but the worst part is when you’ve gone out and queued up and haven’t got what you wanted, but as soon as you get in you check eBay and Discogs and there it is, going to five times the price you would have paid for it. This annoys me more than any other part of Record Store Day. The sad point is that, this side of it will never go away. Bastards will always ruin it for the rest of us. Yes there is the argument that after they’ve got up early and queued in line and bought what they want, why not sell it? If you need an answer to this argument, then you’ve missed part of the point of the whole day!