The lists are up, the stock is arriving and the token news stories are bubbling up nicely. It must be time for 2013’s installment of Record Store Day, which takes place on Saturday April 20th. Despite initial claims to the contrary, the number of releases has shot up again to land around the 500 mark. If you visit record shops regularly then there will be plenty in there for you to enjoy. Although, if you do visit record shops regularly, it could be argued that a day designed to raise the profile of said stores isn’t actually aimed at you. It’s a sobering thought.
In recent years I have written various think pieces on this potentially wonderful event and they have always prompted plenty of debate. Not always complimentary, it must be said, but I’d like to think that even a cursory glance of this site tells you I am very much on the side of the independent record shops. Plenty have the receipts to prove it.
After last year’s guide to the day, I thought I’d dust it down and spruce it up for a full on 2013 feel. If you need any further advice, ask below or say hello on Twitter. Also, as I mentioned recently, I would be delighted if those of you experiencing RSD on Saturday were to tweet some pictures of the shops you visit. Ok, let’s get on with it…
Should I make the effort to get to an independent record shop for RSD?
Without a doubt. In fact, you should make an effort to get to an independent record shop full stop. You clearly like your music if you’re loitering on a site like this and where better to get recommendations, bargains and all round musical bonhomie than your local record shop? Many of the UK’s finest indies are putting on all kinds of entertainment for the day, be it live performances, discounted regular stock or alcohol. This is a day intended to be primarily about celebrating the shops which have kept us in decent tunes for many years and will hopefully continue to do so for many more. If, like me, you struggle with the onslaught of £10 coloured vinyl back catalogue 7” nonsense, it’s still worth suspending your cynicism for a day that is always enjoyable and lingers long in the memory.
I had wanted to ask about the records being released. What should I be looking out for?
Well, unless you’re an obsessive collector of a certain band, multi-coloured vinyl reissues are best avoided. Yes, they’re labelled as ‘limited’, but don’t let that word fool you into thinking that it also means ‘essential’. £30 for a red and white White Stripes album is not what this is all about, especially as there is a standard black vinyl pressing still available for only £13. Check out the full list of items before you venture out next week and be absolutely certain about what you want and what you think you really need. It’s easy to get swept up in the mania in the store when the last copy of Wayne Coyne’s Musical Ballbag see-through, poster-bag, first time on vinyl special release is batting its eyelids at you, only for you to get home and realise you bought a turkey. Just ask everyone who has a shelf full of previous RSD limited edition 7”s. There is some great stuff out this year, as always, but the sheer number of items is ludicrous. Last year, I thought the staggering number of items might screw over the eBay dickwads but it seemed very much alive. It’s a limited market and the high prices last a matter of days. I find the prices on the shelf hard enough to swallow without resorting to the soulless wastelands of auction sites.
Ah, yes. Imagine I’m a shameless music-hating, money-grabbing bastard. Is it worth my while getting my aging camping chairs out on Saturday and taking a flask of bovril and an exciting science fiction novel down to my local store at silly o’clock?
Possibly. It would seem that heritage artists pressed to picture disc is one of the cons so glaringly obvious people actually fail to acknowledge it. Bowie and Kate Bush lead the way on that nonsense again this year. A Bowie picture disc 7” single is £8 the rest of the year but oddly seems to go up to £13 whenever one is released on RSD. I’m sure this is just a coincidence and not in anyway intentional fuckwittery. There’s plenty of ‘very much available pretty much anywhere’ music being pressed up on the beloved wax for the sake of it – ‘Animal Nitrate’ / ‘Barriers’ double A side by Suede, anyone? – but that seems to be the record companies’ main plan these days. The Malkmus Can covers album seems pretty limited and actually something worthwhile, while Paul Weller is putting out two new tracks on a 7”. It’s not always immediately obvious what will suddenly sky-rocket, although I suspect some of the metal albums being pressed in small quantities will have a tidy bit of eBay trade come Sunday. So, perhaps get yourself some Megadeath. Rest assured that Tame Impala’s early doodles are not the remarkably exciting listen you might be being told they are.
I bought far too much last year and the only thing I didn’t see for sale elsewhere, after the day, was the Gorillaz 10” for ‘Do Ya Thing’. Plenty of indie stores ended up lumbered with Beatles, Fame Studios and Edwyn Collins 7” boxsets that were priced ludicrously and insufficiently tempting. Think the Ringo Starr set gets the nod in that department this year.
Frankly, as long as the thoroughly splendid people who run our independent record shops make their money on it all, I try not to get too cross about it. I might not agree with all aspects of the day but these people – who connect you with so much great music – have invested a terrifying amount of cash in this stock so, actually, it might not be a bad thing that the eBay folk come and ensure that the money was well spent. However, when these quick-buck-brigade and leave empty-handed those tempted out for the first time in ages, it does tarnish the event a little. The scalpers will be there – the best approach is not to buy stuff from them on eBay until the price drops below what it cost in the shop. Remember, the indies can sell online from the following Saturday and there is normally plenty of stuff left.
Ok, ok. I’m not a scalper. I’m just a fan. When should I start queuing for Record Store Day?
I’ve done the queuing thing for the last few years and it has a certain niche appeal if you like standing in freezing streets talking about obscure vinyl pressings and how much financial guilt you have braced yourself to feel. Mix in drunken remnants of the night before asking you “why the fuck are all you saddoes waiting here then?” and an achy back and you get a full flavor of the experience. In 2010, I queued with a lovely, anxious Blur fan called Vickie outside the now defunct PowerPlay in Leicester. We got a copy of ‘Fool’s Day’ each and then remembered to breathe. I’ve spent the last two RSDs at Rise in Bristol and I still find the presence of curious folk who happen to run their own stalls at record fairs and the like near the front somewhat galling. I spend an INSANE amount of money in that shop – as do many in indies across the nations – but the rules of the day ensure that this counts for shit if that lot rock up first.
In all seriousness, the less seriously you take the unpleasantly competitive element of it all, the more likely you are to enjoy it.
So do I need to be up at the crack of dawn or not?
Depends on whether or not you’ve always had a burning desire for a Nick Cave picture disc or a Coldplay comic. If not, rock up at noon, pick up the odd overpriced 7”, grab some decent new music from the normal racks and catch a live performance from a band. Your choice. Remember, we’re celebrating independent record stores here, not major labels and their capacity to make money by endlessly reissuing records you already have.
Alright then, grumpy. Let me try again: what should I actually be looking out for?
Like I said, there are some decent releases, as always. The Beta Band’s three EPs, famously collected on ‘The Three EPs’ and even more famously mentioned in ‘High Fidelity’ are reissued for the day. The aforementioned Nick Cave 7” features an unreleased track, but keep in mind how much you actually play the bonus 7” that came with the latest album. Orange Juice have their catalogued returned to wax by Domino, Knitting Factory deliver an unreleased, extended version of Fela Kuti’s superb ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’ and Leaf are popping the early Caribou albums back out on coloured vinyl also. The excellent new Pulp track, ‘After You’ finally gets a physical release on 12”, backed with a Soulwax remix while Death Waltz records have some truly different soundtrack releases on a variety of vinyl sizes.
Here are a few tasters to whet your appetite:
Any last tips then?
Set yourself a financial limit and stick to it. It’s very easy to get lured in by limited, exclusive, one-off, today only style gubbins but far harder to find the willpower to actually play the bloody thing three months down the line. Don’t take it too seriously – there’s every chance that some of the stuff you want will have sold out by the time you get to the racks. Is it the end of the world? Probably not. Very few items were impossible to get hold of over the last few years, and many remain available today. The 2011 Saint Etienne box was selling online for half price before too long, plenty of last year’s titles are still clogging up the reduced section of many indies, while the Flaming Lips box from RSD 2011 can be purchased for £50 delivered right now – keep that in mind when ‘Zaireeka’ is fluttering its eyelashes at you. Remember, it’s about the places selling these items. Take them a cake, a smile and an interesting conversational nugget and you’ll have a wonderful day. But, most importantly, make sure you go back again before Record Store Day rolls around again in 2014.