There are two holidays in the record store year. After the massive celebration that is Record Store Day in April, we put a little spin during this season with RSD Black Friday this week. While the same overall rules apply, get ready for several great "evergreen" titles, some sweet singles and a whole lot of vinyl that would look fantastic under the tree.
When we throw open those doors, these are some of the prizes you should seek out for yourself and/or those music lovers on your Christmas list.
MTV Unplugged 3.16.1992
After completing their first European tour, Seattle's Pearl Jam arrived back home to a flurry of activity.
Their record "Ten" had been largely dormant since its August 1991 release. Their single "Alive," while an MTV staple, was steadily gaining airplay on radio stations nationwide (it would spend a record-breaking 61 weeks bubbling just under the Hot 100).
Their live shows earned the fledgling band a rabid contingency of fans. On the cusp of their second single release, "Even Flow," they stopped into MTV Studios to perform unplugged. Tired from travel and thrown into high gear from rehearsing in a giant room, Pearl Jam hit the small stage and unleashed raw power from their acoustic instruments.
After connecting with the audience of millions, they would never struggle again with singles, radio airplay or sales.
After punk rock broke, bands from all over the United Kingdom came out of the woodwork. With indie labels just taking off, U2 won a contest where their demo would be heard from the only major label in Ireland, CBS.
Fortunately, they liked what they heard and quickly invested in a three-song 12" single from the band. Those three songs (two of which would return on their debut "Boy") were pressed to 1000 LPs in 1979 - all of which sold out instantly. That initial single has been repackaged and will be released for the first time in 40 years for Record Store Day Black Friday.
PAUL MCCARTNEY - "Home Tonight/In A Hurry" [7"](Capitol)
McCartney's most recent album "Egypt Station" was such a writing boon for him that even the leftovers (which surfaced on the "Explorer Edition" of the album) had leftovers. These two songs did not fit the album, but have recently been added to Macca's live set in anticipation of this release - their only release.
SLIPKNOT - "All Out Life/Unsainted" [7"](Roadrunner)
After adding yet more fans to the numbers that follow them, it is hard to believe that there were any tracks remaining from what is favored to be remembered as THE Metal album of 2019. This limited picture disc 7" single features the 2018 pre-release single "All Out Life" (where the title "We Are Not Your Kind" comes from") and their giant hit "Unsainted."
THE DOORS - Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 [LP](Elektra/Rhino)
The band mired in Morrison's controversial performances and their legal aftermath played the massive Isle of Wight festival at 2 in the morning for about 600,000 people. Little did they know this would be final performance from the classic Doors lineup. Given their limited time, they roll through the hits ("Roadhouse Blues" and even a lengthy version of "Light My Fire.") Despite the chilly winds, the quartet steam through the classics ("Back Door Man," "When The Music's Over") and shut down the facilities with a fire-breathing version of "The End."
JEFF BUCKLEY - Live on KCRW: Morning Becomes Eclectic [LP](Legacy)
The storied career of Jeff Buckley was terribly brief. Fortunately, his posthumous releases are still being discovered and best allow neophytes and longtime fans to fill in the gaps. This session recorded with the band from "Grace" echoes the deliriously wild level of improv from his Sin-E coffeehouse shows (he covers Bad Brains off the cuff) and a
newfound laser focus on unleashing his new emotional songs.
ALEX CHILTON - My Rival [10"](Omnivore)
Now that the legend of Big Star is almost common knowledge, RSDBF unveils this previously lost session from Alex Chilton with engineering help from former Big Star bandmate Chris Bell. Bell had been in England trying to secure a record deal. Chilton was demo-ing songs while recovering from the last Big Star record "Third/Sister Lovers" being shelved. These early takes of "All of the Time" (later a classic single for Ork in New York,) "My Rival" (later cut for 1979's comeback "Like Flies On Sherbert") plus two more have never been heard before.
DR. JOHN - Babylon [LP](Get On Down)
The ambassador of New Orleans music lives on with this special reissue of this overlooked album from 1969. While it is no "Gris Gris," "Babylon" is less swampy and more psychedelia as the Doctor surrounds his signature rasp with female backing vocals, loads of percussion and jazzy vamps. Unlike the previous album's bouillabaisse of styles and genre, "Babylon" sounds like late Sixties Dr. John where he is socially aware ("The Patriotic Flag-Waiver") and constructing elaborate symphonies of sound.
ARETHA FRANKLIN - The Atlantic Singles: 1968 [7" BOX] (Rhino/Atlantic)
PRETENDERS - UK Singles 1979-1981 [7" BOX](Rhino/Atlantic)
When singles gave way to the importance of albums, The Queen of Soul turned her singles into two-sided wonders. These eight songs defined their respective LPs ("Lady Soul" and "Aretha Now") while giving Aretha a string of Top 40 hits. When singles returned to importance after the groundswell of Punk, The Pretenders used every side to showcase every side of a band whose complexity transcended the "New Wave" moniker and visceral crunch returned Top 40 listeners ("Brass In Pocket," "Message of Love") to Rock.
HERBIE HANCOCK - Directstep [LP](Get On Down)
Much like the vinyl aficionados of today, Japan in the Seventies was full of audiophile LP fans. Because of that demand and the nation's huge interest in American Jazz, Hancock traveled over with his band to record an album direct-to-disc. This rare date features a second keyboardist Webster Lewis (who handles mostly electronics) and features the band racing through an extended 15-minute version of should-have-been-a-hit "Thought It Was You." (This same band including Hancock will re-record the track with Japanese Jazz/Pop single Kimiko Kasai.)
JAMES BROWN - More Mess On My Thing [LP](Get on Down)
The story goes that James' longtime backing band grew tired of his system of fines and paying them substantially less and walked out. Having seen the Cincinnati band The Pacemakers in a local bar, the squire to his liege Bobby Byrd brought them in to form the new band - the J.B.'s. That now mythic band included Catfish Collins on guitar and his brother Bootsy on Bass. This move proved to be a game changer as the Godafther of Soul became the master of tough, multifaceted blistering Funk. "More Mess" is the 1969 demo they recorded to prove their skills to Brown and includes an unreleased instrumental ("The Wedge") and the complete version of "When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can."
PYLON - "Cool/Dub" [7"](New West)
After Punk dissipated, its tense tentacles stretched to the college towns of America. Most notably, the sleepy Southern town of Athens, GA. From these small clubs, a new angular, danceable music emerged. Following the smashing success of The B-52's, the fantastic foursome Pylon drew in more Anglophilic music like Cabaret Voltaire to create a minimal mix of terse grooves and tone poetry. After opening for the B-52's and Gang of Four in New York, they recorded this their first single. "Cool/Dub" would inspire a legion of Athens bands including R.E.M. (who covered "Crazy.") The timeless "Cool" would even be scooped up for a Lexus commercial in 2016. Today, members continue to play regularly as the Pylon Reenactment Society.
DEVO - DEVO LIVE [LP](Rhino)
In 1980, DEVO had opened themselves up to College Radio, AOR radio and even Top 40 radio with "Freedom of Choice." Their sleeker Pop sensibility drew in more people for the Freedom of Choice tour. While the label went with "Girl U Want" as the first single, stations in Southeast began regularly playing "Whip It" from the album. This August 1980 show from the Warfield in San Francisco was recorded just before "Whip It" would become their defining single. The concert was edited down to six songs for a single broadcast on 250 radio stations nationwide in 1981. For this special RSDBF pressing, the concert has been expanded to 16 songs on this vinyl exclusive.
THE GUN CLUB - Sex Beat 81 [LP](Culture Factory)
JONATHAN FIRE*EATER - Wolf Songs For Lambs [LP](Third Man)
Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club rarely receive enough credit for kickstarting Cowpunk and coloring their desperate, gasping songs with a Gothic tone years before The White Stripes did it. With his pained yowl Pierce unfurled the Fire of Love on this live EP recorded in 1981 but unreleased until 1984. "Jack on Fire, " "Preachin' The Blues" and "She's Like Heroin To Me" are all Punk/Blues touchstones for anyone burning with wild-eyed Psychobilly desire.
Flash forward twenty years to New York City in the Nineties. With the city bustling, artists and bands started to flock to outer boroughs. When Brooklyn was still just a collection of unnamed neighborhoods, Jonathan Fire*Eater was the band that catalyzed the entire movement. These Washington, DC schoolboys quickly earned a reputation for fire and brimstone live shows which brought together future bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. Signed to David Geffen's Dreamworks, "Wolf Songs" was their major label debut in 1997. Forced on a world that was not quite ready for their stripped-down organ-drenched searing garage Rock, "Wolf Songs" wiped out the band a full two years before the scene began to flourish again.
LIZZO - Coconut Oil [LP](Atlantic)
Before she became 100% THAT star, Atlantic Records knew she had starpower. In 2016, they took her best songs and turned the production over to several true hitmakers (2019 Grammy nominee Ricky Reed and future Drake producer Christian Rich.) "Coconut Oil" was a surprise hit as it departing from "typical" Hip-Hop and introduced Lizzo's brassy and bold female empowerment stance. Three years later, you finally get the chance to own this digital-only release on wax.
MARSHALL TUCKER BAND - New Year's In New Orleans, Roll Up '78 and Light Up '79 [LP/CD](Ramblin')
Southern Rock is not even sitting out this Black Friday with a special never-before-released LIVE Marshall Tucker Band show from Dec. 31st, 1978. Reassembled from the radio broadcast tapes by their longtime Capricorn Records engineer, this live set from the Warehouse in New Orleans has the band running through all their hits including "Can't You See" and "Heard It In A Love Song."
(LP) (Because FRA)
FAR OUT REISSUES
Miles In Tokyo
(LP) (Get on Down)
Early Minor: Rare MIles from
“in a Silent Way”
The masterful Miles is no stranger to RSD releases. However, each one unearthed continues to lead fans to reevaluate that point in his legendary career.
"Miles in Tokyo" (never before released in the U.S.) captures Miles interregnum in between the dissolution of the First Quintet and on the cusp of building the famed Second Quintet. The temporary introduction of Sam Rivers pushes Miles in a different direction during this live set of standards. It also gives you a front-row seat to hear drummer Tony Williams and pianist Herbie Hancock.
Three pieces from the sessions that did not make the record are released here on wax for the first time ever.