Record Store Day is a collective way to get people interested in records, and hopefully have them start collections themselves. Most music aficianados have a collection, whether tightly curated and maintained (I know of a person who maintains a small, like 300 records, but killer collection of the best releases, and sometimes just has one record per band), or expansive and attempting to be authoritative.
Personally, I have a bit of column a, a bit of column b. Typically I “collect” a couple of genres: punk and related subgenres and reggae, specializing in early Jamaican and UK ska as well as dub reggae, primarily from the 70’s. While I have a breadth of stuff, I’ve become much more selective about the releases I buy new. I’m actually much more likely to buy a new record than a re-release, but there’s so much good music, I tend to hold on to older releases.
Now how does that figure into Record Store Day? Well, the overwhelming amount of “new” releases on Record Store Day don’t often figure into my genre preferences and tastes. Like who needs another fucking Jefferson Airplane record?
So as an interesting exercise I’m going to list all the purchases I’d be interested in, and talk about each release, sample it online and see how much I missed (nothing) from not participating in this capitalistic exercise in trying to breathe life in a format based on environmental abuse.
Full (well mostly the official stuff, but I’ve added unofficial, but independently released RSD18 stuff too) UK list at http://www.nme.com/news/music/record-store-day-2018-releases-2255889#Wz8Vlsj1cCjlgTVW.99
I’ll group the 40 plus releases into three rough categories: “Yeah, Sure You Should Buy This”, “If The Must-Haves Are Sold Out” and “Fucking Waste”.
Yeah, Sure You Should Buy This
This is the category for great releases. Probably a short list.
Descendents — Who We Are 7″ EP
So, the a-side is a bit of a sweet pop punk song, but the reason you should buy it is that it benefits the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and it’s offending all the Descendents fans who are apolitical and prefer the non-political stuff. For that reason alone, get this, just to piss off the alt-right jock sniffers who got into punk to assault people in the pit.
Duke Reid All Stars / Roland Alphonso — Judge Sympathy / Never To Be Mine 7″ EP
This reproduction of the first Trojan Records single (Duke Reid) is a great track: “Judge Sympathy”. Duke Reid was the producer, and got the credit, but the singers are the real breadwinners here. I don’t know who they are, but the one sounds similar to Alton Ellis.
The flip is a bit of a trumpet led soulful ska. Great, but not as massive as Roland Alphonso’s “Phoenix City” — but if you want a song to be contemplative, or dare I say it romantic with — this might be the perfect track.
The Mekons— Where Were You / I’ll Have To Dance Then (On My Own) 7″ EP
“Where Were You” is an amazing song. A lot of people say “Teenage Kicks” by the Undertones really embodies a perfect song, I’m more along the lines that “Where Were You” is perhaps the song that “Teenage Kicks” should’ve been. I’m sure that won’t earn me any fans, as the Undertones fans are abundant and rabid. Oh well. This single isn’t quite as ramshackle as the precedent recordings and this might be The Mekons at their most concise and taut songs.
The Stooges — The Stooges (The Detroit Edition) 2xLP
OK, so if you don’t have a copy, why not start with this one? This is the primitive, blasted out blueprint for what punk was to become — but still can be held up as it’s own artifact of late 60’s rock. It’s a perfect example of an overlooked record at the time, that’s only seen it’s relevance in subsequent years. An absolute classic, whether you like punk, or rock and roll, or some other out there subgenre, this is a must have to understand the blueprint.
v/a — Why Are We Here? 7″ EP
You may be asking yourself, really? An obscure compilation from North Carolina in the early 80’s is a must buy? The answer is absolutely. Early Corrosion of Conformity (Eye for an Eye era) alone is worth the purchase. Bloodmobile reminds me of a early DC hardcore band, maybe Faith? Stillborn Christians are an unheralded first wave hardcore band, and for my money, No Labels is a band that should’ve been bigger, but never really made it. It looks like it’s still available from Schoolkids Records.
If The Must-Haves Are Sold Out
This is simply when you have to buy something, because money is burning a hole in your pocket, these releases might fit your taste and dollar amount.
Alternative TV — Dark Places 12″ EP
Alternative TV punch the clock and release a new 12″ in 2018. And it’s like the last few Alternative TV, a slightly less charming Killing Joke. When Killing Joke put out a record at the same time as this, I know which one I’m more likely to reach for. That’s not to say that Alternative TV are bad — in fact I’d be a lot more likely to see them seeing as Killing Joke commands $40 or $50 tickets in this day and age, and there’s no guarantee that Killing Joke show up.
Hawkwind — Levitation 3xLP
So, the recorded LP features Ginger Baker, best known for Cream, who provides a solid jazz foundational backbone drumming for the band. This one is a lot less psychedelic than the earlier stuff, and a lot less hard and driving that stuff that came before as well. With all that said, it’s still Hawkwind, and it has that charm, but it’s clearly influenced by some of the NWOBHM that was bubbling up.
The live tracks (if the bootleg versions I’ve heard are the same as the ones included) are pretty stellar, and if you have the 3xCD release that came out in 2009, you have this already. The 1980 live sets are pretty damn good though.
Hawkwind — Dark Matter 2×12″
Well, again this is a bit of a mixed bag — it’s from the prime era Hawkwind (in my opinion — 1970–1974). It’s out-takes and stuff that you might already have on CD (released on Parallel Universe in the mid-2000’s)
I don’t necessarily know this needed to be pressed on vinyl, but it’s probably nice to have if you prefer vinyl to CD. A low priority purchase, but if you see it, and like Hawkwind, then absolutely you’ll dig it.
The Maytones — Only Your Picture 2xLP
A long-deleted 1984 release of fairly inoffensive reggae tracks. This might’ve just been skipped over, but it’s a worthwhile purchase because it’s likely only at your local indie shop, and it’s gotten a slightly outrageous bonus disc, killer political song “Madness”.
The Mekons — Never Been In A Riot 7″ EP
Minutemen meets Desperate Bicycles, this is a punk classic. “32 Weeks” is a great song, but I suspect that there wasn’t a hue and cry for a reissue. Of course, just because there’s no demand, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.
Motörhead — Death Or Glory LP
So this is “Bastards” which is probably the best Motorhead LP from the 1990’s. However, it was just re-issued last year. Not essential, but “Burner” is a banger.
PIL — Live at Brixton Academy 1986 2xLP
This came out on CD only in the late 2000’s. This was a good set by PIL, probably during their peak effectiveness as a live unit. Well worth the time, but may not be an essential addition to your collection.
The Ramones — Sundragon Sessions LP
These are the alternate mixes of Ramones tunes that appeared on “Leave Home” 40th anniversary box set. I did some comparisons (around the song “Commando” particularly) and think the Sundragon Session mixes are second best to the remastered versions (with the 40th anniversary versions coming third). The Sundragon ones are more drum forward, and Joey sounds a bit fuller. Overall these mixes have good sonic equality in the highs, mids and bass ranges.
Sock-Tight (Mike Watt & Raymond Pettibon) — Second Wind 7″ EP
Admittedly, I haven’t heard this but I’m willing to give it a go as Mike Watt is a killer bass player. And it’s new music being released, so it can’t be a fucking waste by definition.
Sonic’s Rendezvous Band — Live 78 LP
So this is a love-it-or-leave-it band, but if you can throw “City Slang” on repeat and listen to it for about a hundred times and not get tired of it, are you human? Well, you might be, but I’m not sure I want to know you.
Television Personalities — Closer To God 2xLP
While Television Personalities re-released two of their extensive catalog on Record Store Day, only one is worth thinking about getting (and even then, have a good think about it).
Urban Dogs 2xLP
Imagine the Vibrators and the UK Subs forming a supergroup of sorts in 1983. That’s the Urban Dogs. Now, the LP is a perfectly good, but nothing special. If you like the second wave of UK punk, like the Subs, Blitz and a multitude of other No Future and Riot City artists, or if you like the UK Subs, then you’ll dig this. Did it need the extra LP’s worth of live and miscellaneous tracks? No. Is it absolutely over the top? No.
v/a — Soul Jazz Records Presents Studio One Dub Plate Special 7″ Box Set
The only thing that prevents this from being a must buy is that it’s in the extremely obnoxious 7″ box set format.
These are lesser known, but great reggae tunes that appeared on dub plates from Studio One. Probably all of these tracks are produced by Coxsone Dodd, who is a well known producer but doesn’t get enough credit.
v/a — Soul Jazz Records Presents PUNK 45 — Approaching The Minimal With Spray Guns: An Edition of Five Independent Singles In Original Cover Art 5×7″ box set
First of all, it’s not original cover art, it’s a reproduction cover art.
The only really saving grace is that the X_X single they’ve put on this is a must-have single and it’s a great two song release. The other releases in here are good to great (a lot of Killed By Death afficianados are enamoured by the Hollywood Squares, but I never really thought too much of beyond the killer bass line in the song. Again, all this goodness is housed in the most annoying format ever, the 7″ box set.
v/a — Gary Crowley’s Punk and New Wave 2xLP
Well, Gary Crowley’s show is typically good. However, I don’t know if the tracklisting really bowls me over. The selections are sufficiently obscure (no standard Sex Pistols, Blondie, Specials or Purple Hearts) so that’s a big plus. The big drawback is that this 2xLP collection is sufficiently cut down from the 3xCD version and costs at least twice as much. Figuring in manufacturing costs, it’s expected that it will cost more, but you can probably get the crucial cuts from the comp tracks for about the same as buying this compilation, and you get to dig in record crates.
v/a — Get Ready, Do Rock Steady 10×7″ EP box set
The Eithiopians and Roland Alphonso are encapsulated on this box set (which is in the most obnoxious format ever). Those are the reasons to get this. The other songs are pretty great too — but the only thing that prevents this from being shoved into the must buys is the format.
The Wipers — Live At The Met, December 31st 1982 LP
I am not a Wipers fan, I find their songs too repetitive, both sonic and lyrically. However, a live set, early enough on in their career, showing the power of the live set is something that even I can’t deny.
Wire — NINE SEVENS 9×7″ EP box set
Wire always struck me as a better album band, but combing through the tracklisting the singles they put out are pretty damn solid too. This box set (while obnoxious) is a pretty good chance for the completist to listen to remastered versions (from original tapes) of the early output of the prolific band. This includes the very difficult to find freebie that came with some of the first pressing of 154, while not an essential slab, an interesting listen nonetheless. If you have all the singles except that one, maybe this is a pass as the band have announced a 3xCD edition of 154, that will no doubt have these songs on the release.
The Undertones — Singles 13×7″ EP box set
Outside of Teenage Kicks, I really don’t care for this band. Nothing they did struck me as much as their contemporaries. The lyrics of the band seemed really bland and banal. The music just doesn’t move me. However, Teenage Kicks is definitely an important punk song, and it’s pretty damn good. Too bad nothing else they did holds a candle close to that one song.
Only for completists, speculators, and people who have all the records in both those categories above.
Killing Joke — Absolute Dissent 2xLP
Well, you know what I said about Alternative TV up there, Killing Joke’s 2010 release didn’t really need to be re-released. It was a good, but not to my ears particularly inspired, Killing Joke album.
L7 — Fast And Frightening 2xLP
Slide guitar. It’s rockin’ sure, but 50’s rocknroll done in 2000’s is not my thing. A full LP is fine, but a 2xLP remaster is a fucking waste.
The Lemonheads — Favourite Spanish Dishes 7″ EP
Useless, fucking dreck from a band who could write tunes, before they tried to be a pop band. Possibly useful if you like terrible acoustic covers of The Misfits.
The Lurkers — Fulham Fallout LP
While this is a great slice of Ramones influenced British punk, there is absolutely no reason for a 40th anniversary reissue.
Madness — I Do Like To Be B-Side The A-Side LP
There’s one good song on here, and it’s the first one. Madness were always known as a band that would take the piss, and most of the b-sides outside of “Madness” (a Prince Buster cover) and “The Business” an instrumental version of “Take It or Leave It” are jokey covers, alternative and lesser versions or just plain songs that one would rather forget.
Motörhead — Heroes 7″ EP
I like David Bowie. I like “Heroes” as a song. I like Motorhead a lot. I dislike covers. I dislike this cover a lot. I really hate picture discs. Combine the things I hate and dislike and they do not overcome my desire to collect Motorhead records.
Pere Ubu — Terminal Tower LP
Again, a re-issue that has been recently reissued (albeit by the Get Back label in Italy, but their stuff has gotten around) is something I can overlook — but when there’s no new additions, or anything it strikes me as a bit of a useless effort. There’s great songs on here, but they’re elsewhere too.
The Queers/Chris Barrows Band split 7″ EP
I’ve never been a fan of The Queers (the band, just to be clear) or Pink Lincolns. This is apparently the follow up split, except the Pink Lincolns had the good sense to break up, so Chris Barrows, who was in the Pink Lincolns fills the bill. If you like pop punk, and I don’t, this might be for you.
Slapshot — Sudden Death Overtime LP
No one needed this repressed, or re-released on a different color vinyl. If you need to own one Slapshot record, make it Last Rights — Chunks.
Sloppy Seconds — Knock Yer Block Off LP
Hasn’t been available for 20 years? Who cares?
Stars and Stripes — Shaved For Battle LP
Straight re-release of a shit band, with shit politics, by shitty skinheads. Who fucking cares?
Television Personalities — Privilege LP
Somewhere between The Cure, a less talented The Smiths, sit this particular release. Lots of jangly pop elements with some synthy bits. Yes, the early stuff is quite good, but a straight re-release of a third rate sound is most definitely absolutely worthless.
Tim Armstrong — A Poet’s Life LP
Look at this thing. Is this the sort of thing any self-respecting person would own? It’s a punk dude playing ska/reggae. It’s competently done, but I don’t want Tim Armstrong, a guy who can’t sing, try to sing over these songs. If you look at the Two Tone ska bands that played at this time, they all could sing. Tim cannot. That’s fine, there’s lots of room in the world for guys who can’t sing, they typically can scream. This really is the drizzling shits.
Toy Dolls — Nellie The Elephant 7“ EP
You know, I’m not a big fan of pop punk, but there are a lot of Toy Dolls fans out there. This is a shit song, from a band that can do better. When they actually play songs, they have a catchy melodic Adicts feel, but the problem is that their humour, such as it is, gets in the way.