Record Store Day started in April 2007, as a US affair. I was in Tokyo. Had been there about six months. Looking after my three sons, all of whom were under five. One, newborn. Never mind that in London, I`d spent most of my free time in Record Stores, they were now pretty much off the agenda. To be honest, even when the childcare relaxed a little, and I could be found digging in any emporium I came across, RSD, didn`t really register. Maybe Japan joined the furore late. It was only when the friends who had started small labels began to get involved that I noticed. By then, I was out of the city, building a house on the side of a mountain, and a long way from any shops. I would email mates back in the UK my “RSD Wants Lists” (Thanks Stu!). I didn`t write anything about RSD until 2014. When it felt like a good point to take stock.
The event was conceived as a means to breathe life back into the independent stores, following the advent of digital media. There is no doubt that it did that, and continues to do so. I think RSD is unlikely to attract anyone who doesn`t usually by records to a store. But it is likely to tempt people – like myself – who usually buy on-line to visit the physical. And once there, they – again if they are like me – are bound to spend more than they planned. However, as the majors got involved, the small imprints, who had been committed to vinyl, and to a very large extent kept the independent shops afloat, got sidelined. The infamous pressing plant queues and pecking orders, meant that as RSD almost became an industry in its self, the enthusiast-run labels found themselves not just shut out of RSD, but so far down the list that the whole year was disrupted, pushed back, and put on hold. Sometimes effectively putting them out of business. In 2008 there were only ten RSD releases. In 2012 there were four hundred. This year I`ve counted at least five hundred. From ABBA, AC/DC, Adam Sandler(!?), The Alarm(!?!?), to Whitesnake, The Who, The Wu-Tang Clan, and Yes. Very few are from the labels that sparked my interest in RSD the first place. I know some now boycott the day on principle.
With that said, I am aiming to travel into Tokyo on April 21st. I`ve leased a new apartment in Jimbocho, which puts me within walking distance of the handful of Disk Unions, centred around Ochanomizu alone. I`m interested to see how crazy it gets. Often on my way home from DJing on a Sunday morning I see folks queuing, waiting for these stores to open. And that`s on a regular weekend.
Here`s what I`ve got on my eyes on….
Or should that be Modern Classical? Erased Tapes have the 1X1=X box set. Three LPs, featuring one track from each of the artists on the label`s roster. All recorded in Von Ton Studio in Berlin, sharing the same instruments. Celebrating their 10th anniversary with a concept designed to illustrate the collaborative spirit that Erased Tapes is built on.
Ryuichi Sakamoto surely falls into this category, and the soundtrack people, Milan, are putting two unreleased tracks – from last year`s Async sessions – on a maxi-single.
One of the small labels that remains involved in RSD is Leng. Claremont 56`s more dancefloor orientated sibling. In a move similar to Erased Tapes, they`ve got label-mates, Earthboogie and Mushrooms Project, to remix each other for a limited 12. Synthetic, excitable, Afro-Pop meeting Psychedelic Dub Disco.
Also on the remix front, Talamanca System and Mark Barrott step up to tackle Tears For Fears` Head Over Heels, as the Top Ten veterans prepare to release their first new material in decades. I know that the Talamanca System versions have divided the opinions of folks that keep the Balearic flame. But those of us lucky enough to have been playing the files out to audiences can confirm, it does work. I`ve yet hear Mark`s interpretations, but I can`t remember the last time he disappointed.
Strut will un-archive the eleven-minute-plus version of Beginning Of The End`s Fishman. A laid-back groove, which sounds like a play on the standard, Crawfish. Coming on like a mix of Cymande`s Dove and Hendrix` All Along The Watchtower. It`s backed by their indispensable Give-It-Up-Turn-It-Loose riffing, Jazz Dancer, Funky Nassau.
I`ve got plenty of covers of William DeVaughn`s Be Thankful For What You Got. Don Carlos, Massive Attack, Craig Peyton, Gabor Szabo……Tunes by artists such as Mark Barrott, Mike Fabulous, Jackie Mittoo, and Soul Sugar borrowing its riff / vibe. But I don`t actually own the original. The rhythm section on it is so tight they could be a machine.
Creation Rebel`s first LP, and Adrian Sherwood`s first studio explorations. ON-U Sound are putting out 1978`s Dub From Creation.
Charles Wright & The Watts 103 Street Rhythm Band`s Express Yourself. A Rare Groove rescued from obscurity, and made ubiquitous, inescapable, by Barrie K. Sharpe and Lascelle at their mid-80s Cat In The Hat parties. My copy of the LP was battered when I bought it and is even more battered now. Backed on a 45 by The Meters` Wah Wah-licked Just Kissed My Baby. Sampled for hits by N.W.A. and Public Enemy (Timebomb) respectively.
Shaun Escoffery`s Days Like This was the last House record that I can remember actively scouring London for. Physically. Travelling from Honest Jon`s in Portobello to Flying, which by then (2001) had moved to Soho. Stopping off everywhere in between. Hooked on the aural sunshine of those jazzy keys, and that exultant vocal. Only to lose it / leave it somewhere while DJing high. Nights like those.
Two Cosmic Jazz calls for unity and open minds from Lonnie Liston Smith. Expansions, with that Cecil McBee bass-line (one of Jah Wobble`s favourites) and Leopoldo Fleming`s BAD bongos. Like Norman Connor`s Mother Of The Future dancing in Atmosfear`s Outer Space. Every home should have one. Paired on a 12 with A Chance For Peace. A personal favourite from Phil Mison and Steve Terry`s Cafe 1001 afternoon sessions.
Tao From Sweden. Danish Don, Kenneth Bager discovered Eenie Meenie, and he passed it on to maestro Mison. Phil introducing the track to Rogue Cats, Dean Meredith and Ben Shenton, who`ve repressed it and got honorary Swede, Mark Seven, to remix it. Transforming the original`s cute Cod Reggae into a couple of Dubs inspired by Baldelli`s mix-tapes and Trevor Horn`s Fairlight.
Be With Records make two albums from Liam Hayes` back-catalogue available, for the first time on vinyl. As Plush, on Fed, he makes horny, fruity, orchestrated, tunes. With nods to the songwriting of Lennon & McCartney. Extravagant brass filled productions that pay homage to Stax. Some of it sounds like jazzy lounge versions of Oasis. Having It All could be Jamie Cullum doing Radiohead`s Exit Music. `60s referencing like The Last Shadow Puppets. While the string-filled title track is Axelrod meets Melody Nelson.
On Korp Sole Roller, Hayes is more of a one-man Supertramp. Having America for breakfast on the long way home. The songs miniature epics. Waves aches with cello. The Wake is so fragile. He takes in the Easy-Listening of The Sandpipers, The Carpenters, and mixes that with Scott Walker. His songs remind me of Pulp. In so much that they are wry, and smart. Their lyrics largely alluding to dreams. The loss of them. Melodies recalling The Beatles (Lonely People) and Bowie`s Starman. Finales borrowing the Thin White Duke`s sax honking Glam.
Also on vinyl for the first time, care of Northern Spy, is John Lurie`s reincarnation of The Lounge Lizards as a fictitious Malian township band, under the pseudonym of The Legendary Marvin Pontiac. Lurie`s wry half sung, half spoken, Beat poetry / Bukowski-esque narratives joined by gently percolating polyrhythms, and fellow Lizard, Marc Ribot`s mutant Highlife guitar.
Chain Reaction`s essential upbeat, smiling, piece of 70s positivity, Search For Tomorrow, will be back on a 7. As will Holland & Dozier`s massive end-of-the-nighter Why Can`t We Be Lovers? Tingling the spines of broken hearts everywhere.
The Blue-Eyed variety comes from Boz Scaggs. Larry Levan / Paradise Garage favourite Lowdown coupled with What Can I Say. Both lifted from his 1976 LP, Silk Degrees.
My desirables here come in the form of the beautiful orchestral stylings of Dave Grusin`s score for The Friends Of Eddie Coyle, and the musical direction of Jo Yeong-wook (Cho Young-Wuk) for the first part of Park Chan-wook`s “Vengeance Trilogy” (Sympathy For Lady Vengeance). Groovy Library Funk on the one hand. Baroque melancholy on the other. Neither has been on vinyl before. Grusin`s work was previously unreleased. A big “Thank You” to Moonboots for the tips here.
You can check the full UK RSD release list over at the event website.