Every year, the City Paper entrusts our music writers with spotlighting some of the many unique Record Store Day releases on offer on what is probably a music fan's most sacred day of the year. RSD17 — Sat. April 22 — promises another round of special debuts, tasty reissues, and unearthed masterpieces. These are the ones we're looking forward to the most.
Ain't It Funny
Detroit rapper Danny Brown became well-known when he dropped his second album XXX on Fool's Gold Records. His often high-pitched delivery and irreverent bars cultivated a following, and this Record Store Day, he's releasing a 10-inch picture disk of the song "Ain't It Funny" from his widely acclaimed and wildly experimental third album Atrocity Exhibition. The record includes an instrumental cut of the track as well as Brown's collaboration with Clams Casino, "Worth It." Check this out if you're a fan of off-the-wall, disturbed hip-hop.
Anarchy in the UK: The US and UK Singles
This collection of one of punk rock's most beloved outfits presents itself as a collector's dream. The set includes four U.K. seven-inch records and one U.S. seven-inch, all in their original 1977 sleeves. The singles, including "Anarchy in the UK," "God Save the Queen," and "Pretty Vacant" are a great taste of their album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, a project that changed the landscape of punk worldwide.
The Boy With the Thorn in His Side
Beloved British alternative pop-rockers the Smiths make an appearance this Record Store Day with a seven-inch single of a previously unreleased demo of their song "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side." From their 1985 record "The Queen is Dead," this single should provide intimate insight into the band's initial writing process, and it'll be cool for any Smiths fan to hear a raw cut of Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr. Side B of the record has an early version of the song "Rubber Ring," recorded at Drone Studios.
Collecting Sun Ra albums is a sisyphean shitshow. Just don't do it. What you should be doing, instead of getting bogged down in collecting, is listening to his gorgeous anti-traditionalism shine in this wonderful free-jazz album. "Neptune," "Pan Afro," and the 24-minute epic "Discipline 27-11" (or "Discipline 27-II," depending on the website you consult) are all perfect. Also, the RSD website says there's only one copy, so maybe I'm just telling people not to worry about collecting because I want it.
Live at the Matrix '67
So, let's all be adults here. We all know the reputation Jim had on stage. Sure, he exposed himself to more people at one show than the average stripper does in their entire career, made Ed Sullivan angrier than your grandpa at a commie convention, and was too drunk to perform more than a few times. But, when Jim wasn't shooting the band in the foot, the Doors put their studio recordings to shame with vicious, wild performances and enough attitude to make the Dead Kennedys blush.
Long Distance Call
A man and his guitar versus the world is one of the oldest blues tropes, but it always produces the best results. Yeah, immortal bluesman R.L. Burnside had a band, but this collection features him sticking to minimalist country-blues. He sings with the weight of world-weary experience and plays like the son of Lightnin' Hopkins. What's not to love?
Back in 1971, before David Bowie created his glittering alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, all he had was some amazing songs. So Bowie's manager, Tony DeFries, pressed 500 copies of a promo LP with seven of Bowie's best, including "Queen Bitch," "Quicksand," and "Oh! You Pretty Things" designed to land Bowie a new record deal. The B-side of this long-out-of-print artifact has five songs by another DeFries client named Dana Gillesipie, but the reasons to own this comes down to two things: the Bowie songs and the sense of stripped-down white-label promo history.
Electric Lady Sessions
Few bands do angry better than the Truckers, and last year's American Band album was awash in righteous rage over the country's political climate. This bristling, seven-track salvo (on 12-inch clear vinyl) was recorded around the time of American Band's release, and features DBT in fine form, pounding mercilessly through tracks like "Surrender Under Protest," "Filthy & Fried" and "This Fucking Job" like they're a group of angry young men in a garage, not a well-established, respected revisionist Southern rock band with two decades under their collective belt.
Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
Bill Evans would seem to be the Jimi Hendrix of jazz. Every couple of years, someone unearths a never-before-released performance by the jazz piano master that's just as light, playful, and tasteful as everything else he touched. For this album, recorded in 1968, Evans is backed by a powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, performing at the Netherlands Radio Union Studios in Hilversum. Evans is brilliant in just about any setting, but the thrill here will be in how he matches his laid-back, minimalist playing style with the tempo-stretching restlessness of DeJohnette.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960
It's Monk in his prime. Need I say more? Tasked with recording the soundtrack for the 1959 French film Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Monk reworked some of his tunes, got his quartet together, added a second saxophone, and recorded this entire double album in one day. It's loaded with his signature twinkling of the keys and syncopated piano jabs, his fast-swinging hard bop ditties, and slow, moody melodies. Available for the first time ever in any format, this one-of-a-kind recording comes with an extensive 50-page booklet of essays and photographs. A thrilling treat for any Monk lover.
Shine On Brightly
Procol Harum is an unheralded keyboard-driven rock group from the late '60s and '70s. True forbearers of progressive rock, this 1968 release may be their best. The album opens with catchy rock tunes like, "Quite Rightly So" and "Shine on Brightly," and evolves into a more experimental realm, peaking with the final track, "In Held 'Twas in I." It's a 17-minute opus, taking listeners on a rollercoaster ride of spoken word poetry, tape effects, soaring emotive vocal lines, and discordant distorted guitar. Crank up the hi-fi and trip out.
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 2
Not only is this a brilliant piece of 20th-century Russian classical music, but this particular recording is of the world premiere at the Moscow Conservatory Hall in 1966. Written by Dmitri Shostakovich specifically for his friend and student, the world-renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the music is dark, brooding, and intense. Something you might expect from Soviet Russia in the 1960s. The warm timbres of the cello and orchestra were made to be heard on vinyl, and, lucky us, it's finally available for the first time ever.
In the Wee Small Hours
One of Sinatra's most famous tunes. Hearing someone as inventive and nontraditional as Wilco guitarist Nels Cline reimagine the familiar melody in his rogue way is something that's worth socking away, a precious moment of stray intertextual loveliness that Dylan, no offense, can't quite match.
Cup of Sand
What makes Superchunk great is that most of their music has the infectious fervor and intensity of a great punk-rock show, all high-octane punk guitars and Mac McCaughan's yelping power-pop protestations. But they also take the pedigree and mythos of DIY rock stars somewhat seriously too, building an elaborate range of releases and one-offs in their catalog for the devoted collector and superfan. Cup of Sand is their third warts-and-all collection of those various singles, B-sides, and rarities, chronicling the years 1996-2003, some of the most creatively explosive and challenging in their career.
The Flaming Lips
Onboard the International Space Station: Concert for Peace
This is the kind of album that only someone as conceptually friendly, wacky, and psychedelically baked as the Flaming Lips could have come up with — a limited-edition faux live concert album as performed on a space station, with live audience beats fed through what said concert would hypothetically sound like, and then billed as such. Dizzy yet? Well, if you're a fan of the band, it's probably a warm and familiar feeling. Whether the record is good or not (the band is capable of doing both), this is one of those nice pull-off-the-shelf LPs to chat with your friends about as it is a sonic curio in a catalog full of them.
Look for details on how Monster Music & Movies and the Vinyl Countdown will celebrate RSD17 in our next issue.