Record Store Day’s little-sis adjunct, the Black Friday edition, typically only includes about a third the amount of titles as the main event in April. But since the said big kahuna got put off and split between three “RSD Drops” weekends in August, September and October, this weekend’s Black Friday spinoff doesn’t feel so minimal by comparison, but more like the fourth and final monthly drop in a row. Is it a “drops”-dead event? Is this year’s BF lineup a BFD? With 131 exclusive limited editions up for grabs, here’s a subjective list of highlights that may make it worth giving up your online shopping-only vow for a day.
Aimee Mann, “Bachelor No. 2: 20th Anniversary Edition”
(2xLP, 4000 copies)
As stated in our interview with Mann, the only previous LP edition of Mann’s turning-point solo album was an extremely limited Mobile Fidelity audio pressing that’s hard to find for less than $300 on the second-hand market. You might want to trade in your MoFi anyway, should you have been quick or lucky enough to land one, for this serious “Bachelor No. 2.1” upgrade. It adds five bonus tracks (mostly from the “Magnolia” soundtrack), thoughtfully resequenced what is now a double-album to incorporate then, puts a similar but new spin on the album jacket, and adds liner notes full of 20-years-later thoughts about all 18 tracks. Plus, it’s a nice day for a green (vinyl) wedding.
Bill Evans, “Live at Ronnie Scott’s (1968)”
(2xLP, 4000 copies)
Can Record Store Day regulars ever get enough of Resonance Records’ signature line of perpetually rediscovered Evans rarities? Banish the heretical thought. The late jazz pianist that some consider the artform’s undefeated greatest gets his fifth release of previously unreleased material from the nonprofit label, with a double-LP culled from a peak period and combo, his 1968 trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The latter player is still among us and was a major participant in this typically elaborate Resonance presentation, sitting for a joint interview with Chick Corea (whom he went on to play with after leaving Evans’ employ). The most unusual wrinkle: an interview between archival producer Zev Feldman (who just earned a Grammy nomination for Resonance’s boxed set of early Nat King Cole from last year) and major jazz head Chevy Chase, who befriended Evans in his pre-“SNL” days and shares insights gleaned from driving the legend to east coast gigs. For fans, the reading material alone is worth the price of admission. (For those without a turntable, or those who find that waiting till Small Business Saturday to pick up this easy sellout didn’t pan out, “Ronnie Scott’s” does come out on CD a week later.)
John Prine, “The Asylum Years”
(3xLP, 2000 copies)
Rhino’s first boxed set of five Prine LPs, “The Atlantic Years,” released on an RSD Drops date in September, disappeared off indie store shelves instantaneously — no surprise given the smallish 2000-copy pressing and attention to the master singer-songwriter following his tragic COVID-related death in the spring. The same will likely hold true for this sequel, which bundles the three albums that followed. In the interim came a CD boxed set that includes all eight albums from Atlantic plus Asylum, so that may make this LP set slightly less mandatory, but for purchasing purposes consider it a ripe, not bruised, orange.
Drive-By Truckers, “Plan 9 Records July 13, 2006”
(3xLP, 3800 copies)
When news of this three-LP set’s impending arrival went up recently, fans asked Jason Isbell on Twitter if he was still part of the Truckers when this live show was recorded. To make that determination, he asked the fan asked what month it was from — that’s how near to his exit it went down. (For the record, his departure was made official in the spring of the following year, so it wasn’t quite that close a call, but close enough.) Any lineup of Drive-By Truckers is worth hearing from at triple-album length, so Isbell’s presence shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, but it will make this one especially mandatory for fans who consider the Hood/Cooley/Isbell front line on a Beatlesque level of embarrassments of frontman riches. The packaging for the numbered edition is meant to involve a bootleg, or at least DIY sensibility, with what looks like band flyers glued onto a plain white cover. Rest assured that you are getting soundboard quality from this trip back into Plan 9 From Southern Rock Inner Space.
Little Richard, “Southern Child”
(LP, 1800 copies)
One of the more intriguing subgenres of archival material is the Shelved Album — those occasional releases that still pop up that were actually planned for official release as a studio album and even had cover art planned, if not catalog numbers, before some label exec (usually) said, “Why are we putting this out, again?” A particularly tasty example of the form is this bumped Bumps Blackwell production, which was set to come out in 1972 before someone thought better of issuing Little Richard’s idea of a C&W album at a point when neither he nor country were necessarily at their coolest. It was our loss: the record’s actually quite strong. despite the cover photo of Mr. Penniman milking a cow maybe not auguring for greatness. And don’t let the high-concept country tag throw you off, if that’s not necessarily your thing; it’s more of a Southern-flavored roots-rock that’s more Memphis grits than Nashville countrypolitan. The other 1970s Little Richard albums in Omnivore’s ongoing line aren’t limited editions; if you have any affection for those, don’t sleep on this one.
U2, “Boy – 40th Anniversary Edition”
(LP, 10,000 copies)
U2, one of the most reliable Record Store Day supporters among major artists, has mostly been celebrating its 40th anniversary as a recording unit via RSD, first with an EP commemorating its first single and now with a celebratory reissue of the debut album, with white vinyl and the proper cover art being the distinguishing point of a release that’s fairly straight-up as these things go.
Alanis Morissette, “Live at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 2020”
(2xLP, 3000 copies)
Although RSD’s live releases skew heavily toward the classic-rock era, it’s not too soon to feel nostalgia for the classic era of the first two and a half months of 2020, when we could still see shows. Morissette had a good occasion to revive her debut album, “Jagged Little Pill,” in concert in its entirety at the beginning of the year, with the Broadway debut of the legit stage musical of the same name impending — never mind that she was closer to the West End for this O.G. teaser.
Fountains of Wayne, “Welcome Interstate Managers”
(2xLP, 2500 copies)
How is it that one of the greatest rock albums of the 21st century never had a vinyl release till now? Maybe the belated blessed event has been in the cards for a while, or maybe it took Adam Schlesinger’s coronavirus-related death this spring to provide a reminder and wakeup call that LP justice had not yet been served for his former group’s commercial (“Stacy’s Mom”) high point. An already longish CD gets boosted to even more justifiable double-LP length with the inclusion of two bonus tracks.
The Rolling Stones, “Let It Bleed (Collector’s Edition)”
(LP, 900 copies)
This certainly counts as the most controversial release of this weekend’s lineup, for those who follow RSD-BF beefs. It’s mostly to do with the price tag of $100 for a non-audiophile-grade, not entirely deluxe reissue: ABKCO, which owns rights to the band’s material up through this release, is justifying the price tag with what’s described as a “hand-poured” edition that makes for a more artisanal and arguably more beautiful piece of multi-colored vinyl. The pressing amount is so low that chances are you won’t be faced with making the call on this one, if it seems like a tough one, with far more than 900 stores participating in RSD, most will get just one copy in if they get any at all. Flippers making an investment may be the primary market here, and while fan complaints about the cost may be justifiable, unboxing videos show that the disc is quite pretty, if letting translucent colors bleed in an objet d’art is your thing.
The Weeknd, “After Hours (Remixes)”
(12” EP, 5000 copies)
The Grammys definitely were not working for The Weeknd, this week. Fans can dry their shutout tears with the shrink-wrap from this vinyl edition of a six-track remixes-and-rarities addendum to the star’s unnominated album, which has already been out for streaming purposes since April.