Record Store Day (RSD) began in 2007 as a way to celebrate independent record shops and the vinyl they sold. Originating in the US, RSD has helped increase the sales of vinyl.
There are specific limited releases and reissues on the day and over the years it has built up into a significant global event. It sees street gigs, in-store artist appearances and signings and crowds of vinyl enthusiasts queueing outside shops to try to snag their records of choice.
Like many things though, Covid-19 had a big impact. So last year there were a series of RSDs, the first ones online and the last one socially-distanced and online. This year again, instead of one huge day in April, there are two days with different releases on each day.
Over 200 record shops around Britain take part, and there’s something for most tastes released. But to get the most out of RSD, you need to do the prep. Not every store has every release. What they have is announced on the day, and they have a limited number of the ones they do have. No reservations are allowed. No ringing in advance.
So there’s a certain amount of tension as you get to the front of the queue and see if the records you want are listed on the shop door. Or if they’ve already sold out. There’s nothing worse for a music fan to spend an hour or more queueing up outside the wrong shop. You leave empty handed and then find out the record you’ve been coveting only sold out five minutes ago in a nearby store. I may have given you a snapshot of my world just now.
If you go to www.recordstoreday.co.uk you can find out what the drops are for each day. And you can spend some time listing what you want, and thinking which store near you will be most likely to have it. I’ve worked out a technique, but I’m not sure I can share it.
However, I will make a few suggestions about the records I’ll be hunting down this year. I still have work to do to refine my “top ten picks” so not all of these will make the cut and I may add others. And you’ll find ones you want that I haven’t included based on your music preferences.
- Al Green, Give Me More Love
- Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers, Chippin’ In
- Jungle Brothers, Straight Out Of The Jungle 7”
- Linton Kwesi Johnson, Making History
- Lupe Fiasco, Food and Liqour 1 & 2
- Notorious B.I.G., Duets: the final chapter
- Nubya Garcia, SOURCE 12”
- Poly Styrene, Translucence
- Prince, The Truth
- Slum Village, Fantastic Volume 2
- Various Artists, Golden Gate Groove: The Sound Of Philadelphia in San Francisco
- Aretha Franklin, Oh Me, Oh My: Aretha Live in Philly 72
- Candi Staton, Trouble, Heartaches and Sadness (the lost Fame session masters)
- Terrace Martin and others, Dinner Party: Dessert
- John Coltrane, Naima/My Favourite Things 12”
In previous years, I’ve got some great records—a split coloured 12” of Wu-Tang’s Protect Ya Neck, J Dilla’s Fuck The Police 7” in the shape and colouring of a police badge. Others have included Craig Mack/Notorious B.I.G’s B.I.G. Mack, Black Star (Talib Kweli and Mos Def)’s 7” Fix Up in the shape of a star and much more.
So if you haven’t tried Record Store Day before, give it a go, you won’t regret it even if your neighbours and bank balance do.
Billie Eilish, Your Power
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the more recent murder of Sarah Everard, it’s no surprise Billie Eilish’s song Your Power has got some attention.
It’s about sexist abuse, in particular, the abuse of younger women at the hands of someone in a position of power.
The first time I listened to Your power, I was immediately struck by how different it sounds to a lot of her other music. The more subtle acoustic notes makes it feel like Eilish has decided to go back to basics to allow the listener to focus more fully on the message in the song.
I’m not usually a fan of acoustic music. But, with the combination of the striped back sound and Eilish’s almost chilling vocals, it’s hard not to feel moved by this song. And that’s particularly true for a woman who has to live in a sexist world where abuse and harassment are a part of everyday life.
AJ Tracey, Flu Game
As grime music continues to rise to the top of British music charts, artists have been meeting the challenge, repeatedly surprising fans. AJ Tracey is no different and in his second album, Flu Game, he proves himself as one of the best grime artists.
The album copies the name of a 1997 NBA finals game where basketball player Michael Jordan battled food poisoning to bring his team to victory.
This is fitting for an album released during a pandemic. Tracey said the album “is about when we go through hard times, but you have to always make sure you put your best foot forward and be great to try to break boundaries.”
Not only does the album reflect on current hardships Tracey wastes no time in taking the fight to the top of society.
He highlights police racism and his former struggle in the single Bringing it Back with other West London rapper Digga D.
He also says, “I locked up the food for the kids like Boris. And then I let it go like Rashford.”
The track Perfect Storm opens with a mellow, Mediterranean guitar riff. Tracey is able to follow with sharp flow and lyrics, resulting in an incredible song. He raps, “Growing up, I had police always kicking my brothers’ door. I’m from Ladbroke Grove, where the richest mix with the poor.”
Other tracks feature great artists such as T-Pain and SahBabii. Tracey is known for incredible, upbeat singles such as Ladbroke Grove, that energise festivals and fill venues. This album continues that legacy.