11 Years of Record Store Day is happening on Saturday, April 21st. Cue your 5am alarms, get your coffee ready to go, so you can head out the door bleary eyed to try and beat the rush to get your hands on a limited release from your favourite artist. This scene of events will most likely be my own morning before I make the journey to my local record store at home to stand in the cold. A little shout out to Relevent Records, who opened their doors at 5am for the early birds, including myself, for coffee and food supplies (I really did need coffee in an IV at this point to quote Loralie Gilmore). With this cheerful image in mind, we can actually get a little excited about some of its releases before we delve into some of the problems of corporatisation that RSD brings about. After launching in 2007, Record Store Day’s cultural impact has been on an upward trajectory, with across the nation avid music fans pausing their usual Saturday schedules in place of vinyl frenzy. This year, over 240 shops are participating across the country, marking the highest ever. What can you expect this year from the release? Well, the full list is up on the official website which I recommend anyone checks out, as not everyone’s tastes are going to match what I passionately write about for the next a hundred words or so. With 500 releases on offer, RSD have curated a mix of the weird and wonderful.
First up, David Bowie, David Bowie. Released for the first time on a heavyweight red and blue coloured vinyl this 2LP features both the mono version of the album and the iconic stereo version. This is guaranteed to be snatched up pretty fast, so queuing at 5am may be a recommendation from myself. From Bowie we move to Duran Duran. RSD is offering us their self-titled album, never before released on vinyl, on a stunning 12″ black record. Iconic names fill this RSD release, with Suede’s self-titled album celebrating its 25th anniversary in a silver vinyl edition. David Sylvian is also on the cards, with a first-time vinyl release of Dead Bees on a Cake on white vinyl, offering fans four non-album tracks to indulge in. Reeling through a few names, there is Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead’s Dylan & The Dead, Mogwai’s Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997), Public Service Broadcasting’s People Will Always Need Coal , Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy (Mirror To Mirror), Sufjan Stevens’s Mystery Of Love EP and Courtney Barnett’s City Looks Pretty/Sunday Roast.
There a few pretty unique releases including Chet Baker’s Jazz On Film…Tromba Fredda OST on a 10″ etched vinyl, Fleetwood Mac’s Tango In The Night Alternate on a 12″ black vinyl album and Madonna’s The First Album on a vivid picture disc. Some live albums occupy the list including Jeff Buckley Live at Sine on a stunning quadruple LP vinyl and The National’s clear-printed Boxer Live In Brussels LP. RSD is offering some quirky film and TV soundtracks including Hitchcock themes from Vertigo/North By Northwest on a 7″ coloured vinyl, and for Lynch fans, two Twin Peaks Soundtrack vinyl from the Limited Event Series, both on picture discs. A release I am particular keen on, is Daughter’s Music From Before The Storm, due to the fact this is its first physical release of the soundtrack. When I heard that I was already invested, yet the pressing has also been released in a clear vinyl and gatefold, which seems darn special. My enthusiasm continues to peak at the thought of finding the Soft Cell 12″ double sided extended version of fan favourite, ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’, alongside The Cure’s Torn Down picture disk release, which offers sixteen new mixes by Robert Smith himself, in a die cut gatefold design.
the problem with this resurgence is that it appears to encourage and legitimise gimmicky releases
All this news for myself and my record player is pure joy. Yet, though RSD’s promotes itself as a day enhancing music culture, it is of course also a major corporate event with a range of issues, regarding independent record labels unpresented and independent record stores not celebrated as much as they should be. Furthermore, with vinyl’s increasing popularity and ‘insta-worthy’ status, the problem with this resurgence is that it appears to encourage and legitimise gimmicky releases. In a Guardian article by Rupert Morrison from last week, who owns the record shop Drift in Totnes, he argued that RSD projects a confused ethos as odds with the spirit of independent community retailers. While RSD encourages people to stand outside their local record store at an unearthly morning hour, it fails to maintain these customers, with the stock from RSD not always representative of the usual independent store’s stock. Morrison argues that “Record Store Day should simply be the big annual celebration of these [independent] organisations and what makes them so special”. For example, places such as Relevant Records in Cambridge, or Spillers in Cardiff, are unique and curate their own identity within the independent music sphere, which should be celebrated. RSD is the day for record shops- for independent record shops. Yet, it appears to have transformed into ‘Vinyl Day’. Despite my personal enthusiasm, of the possibility for a few new special edition vinyl to add to my ever-growing and over-spilling shelf, it is tinged with a sense of confusion over RSD’s ethics. Perhaps I’ll get chatting with the person stood next to me at 5am in the queue regarding these issues.