Big names, big crowds and big spending are all set to combine once more for 2012’s Record Store Day on Saturday April 21st. With somewhere in the region of four hundred ‘exclusive’ titles being foisted on the potentially music-buying public, it’s hard to imagine anyone not finding something they might like. Provided they like vinyl, of course. But then why wouldn’t they? Last year, I spoke to a number of record shops around the UK for a piece primarily concerned with allocation of stock, the quantities produced and the effect of the day on their shops and their customers. Having proved to be one of the most read things I’ve ever written on this here site, I thought I should offer some sort of shameless follow up. So, incorporating some of the various search terms which have guided people to the site in the last few weeks, allow me to present my guide to surviving Record Store Day:
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 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, rather than focusing on how many times you can sell catalogue titles by pressing them on 10” or tartan vinyl.
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’. £27 for a Kinks album is not what this is all about and I’d imagine you can track down a pretty decent original with that kind of money from one of the UK’s many splendid second hand vinyl shops. 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 Viva Batshit’s see-through, poster-bag, first time on vinyl of a poor demo version of an old b-side special release is batting its eyelids at you, only for you to get home and realise you bought a turkey. Just ask everyone who bought the Death Cab For Cutie album sampler 7” last year. There is some great stuff out this year, but the sheer number of items is ludicrous. On the plus side, it should ensure that eBay scalpers should get shafted on plenty of records this time out.
Ah, yes. Imagine I’m a shameless music-hating, money-grabbing bastard. Is it worth my while getting my camping chairs out next week and taking a flask of bovril and a graphic novel down to my local store at 4am?
Ultimately, a few things will sell for shitloads, but there seem to be fewer GLARINGLY OBVIOUS EASY MONEY items this year, unlike the Blur, Beatles, Stones and Radiohead singles of the past. Anyone who overpays for Elbow and Marling bonus tracks, pressed on vinyl from a digital file, deserves what they’re getting in my book. Just ask any scalpers who fell for the Black Friday nonsense in November. Aping a similar event in the US, UK stores were encouraged to stock all kinds of steaming shite at super-inflated prices. Oddly enough, it didn’t sell that well. Nirvana ‘Nevermind‘ singles 10” boxset? Still, very much, available. Pink Floyd triple 7” boxset with jigsaw? Actually being sold off at a reduced price. Ludicrously marked up Lennon ‘Imagine‘ box? You get the picture. I actually saw The Doors‘ ‘LA Woman’ 7” box, which retailed around £50, being sold off by a dealer at a record fair last week for £25. With so many titles available, there will be easy money to be made due to ridiculously limited runs on certain key items – the Gorillaz 10” picture disc springs to mind, along with the rabid Beatles fans who’ll snap up the overpriced 7” box – but you pays your money, you takes your chance with all of this stuff. Frankly, as long as the thoroughly splendid people who run our independent record shops make their money on it all, I find it hard to get too angry about it. However, when limited numbers bring out the 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.
Ok, ok. I’m not a scalper. I’m just a fan. When should I start queuing for Record Store Day?
Speaking from past experience, I was eighth (although curiously eleventh by the time the doors opened and the camping-chair-bovril-wanker chums had turned up) in the queue at Rise in Bristol last year by arriving a little after 6am. The first twenty were let in to get initial dibs and I got everything I wanted. This varies from city to city and based on access to indies. I know that Rockaboom in Leicester had early hours queues for 2010 and 2011, but the East Midlands is a barren wasteland for indie stores. There were some fairly eye-watering photos of the queue at Rough Trade East posted on Twitter last year and the message is pretty clear: if you’re after one of the really rare items, get there as early as you can. Between 5 and 6am should ensure you’re ok, but don’t hold me to that.
Or, 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?
Well, it depends on your taste, but Bella Union have some lovely looking stuff coming out, including a gorgeously retro Jonathan Wilson 12” featuring three covers and a belated vinyl pressing for The Czars‘ (John Grant‘s old band) final album, ‘Sorry I Made You Cry‘. Field Music are offering up two Pet Shop Boys covers, wrapped in a charming sleeve, while Richard Hawley is launching his 10” single club. The wondrous Erased Tapes folks are issuing a 10” featuring a collaboration between Olafur Arnalds and the truly brilliant Nils Frahm, entitled ‘Stare‘. It’s gorgeously sparse, floaty, electronic ambient music and well worth a listen if you’ve previously enjoyed the work of either artist. Here are some tracks to whet your appetite.
Any last tips then?
Set yourself a financial limit. 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. Hot Chip and Slow Club vinyl album pressings from RSD 2010 were remainder for £7 a year later, while the Flaming Lips box from RSD 2011 can still be found in numerous shops for a £100 to this day. 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 2013.