On Saturday, April 13, the "vinyl comeback"™ culminates once more in the annual capitalistic orgy known as Record Store Day, a fantastic and fulsome fête of the best musical format ever invented*. A potent booster shot to music retailers globally, as well as a huge hassle for small record labels seeking to get their releases pressed, only to be wax-blocked by majors re-releasing common titles for 20 times their worth, RSD is the definitive blessing/curse scenario for music aficionados. Despite all of these problematic issues, every RSD—now in its 12th year—delivers some crucial artifacts. It is my solemn duty to guide you through the deluge of product and tip you to some high-quality reissues and archival treasures. Grip while you gripe (and vice versa), sisters, brothers, and others. (Scope out participating Seattle stores here.)
James Brown, Sho Is Funky Down Here (Now-Again)
An anomaly in the Godfather of Soul's catalog, this is an instrumental album masterminded into existence by James Brown's musical director, David Matthews, one of the funkiest white boys ever to enter a studio.
Sho Is Funky Down Here (1971) is a freaky, psychedelic jamfest recommended for fans of Dennis Coffey, Funkadelic, and the Chains and Black Exhaust compilation. I'll add here that Now-Again is also reissuing Matthews's 1970 solo project, The Grodeck Whipperjenny, on RSD. It's a weirder, more orchestral take on what he was doing on Sho Is Funky, but if you're a fan of David Axelrod, you need it.
Aretha Franklin, The Atlantic Singles 1967 (Atlantic)
A boxed set containing five 7-inch singles (including "Chain of Fools" and "Respect"), commemorating one of the Queen of Soul's most creatively fertile phases.
Insides, Euphoria (Beacon Sound)
One of the 4AD label's most interesting and overlooked gems, the 1993 album Euphoria is an enigmatic dream-pop excursion that's become a revered cult item. Insides were the gleaming midpoint between Seefeel and Talk Talk. This is a pensive, beautiful album that gets better with each listen. This reissue will feature liner notes by esteemed British critic Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up and Start Again, Energy Flash, Retromania, and other essential tomes.
Bob Dorough, Multiplication Rock (Original Soundtrack Recording) (Jackpot)
The late jazz vocalist Bob Dorough (who worked with Miles Davis) created this delightful collection of educational pop-soul ditties for ABC TV in 1973. Hip-hop producer Prince Paul was listening, and he laced De La Soul's "The Magic Number" with Dorough's "Three Is a Magic Number." Elliott Smith also was a fan.
The Dream Syndicate, The Days of Wine & Roses (Fire Records America; distributed by Light in the Attic)
This is the first ever reissue of this velvety underground 1982 classic that's been endorsed by the entire band. Includes much bonus material: a vinyl reissue of Dream Syndicate's original four-song 12-inch EP, which has been long out of print; a replica of Steve Wynn’s rare “15 Minutes” 7-inch single; new interviews with Kendra Smith, producer Chris D, and Paul B. Cutler (who recorded the Down There EP), ephemera from the Dennis Duck archives. This reissue was curated by Dream Syndicate archivist and ex-Seattle author/musician Pat Thomas.
Pink Floyd, A Saucerful of Secrets (mono) ()
It's not just because I'm still high from seeing Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets show last week; this is one of the British space-rock innovators' best albums. And Mike Nipper says it sounds fookin' amazing in mono. So there you go—expert tip!
Alexander "Skip" Spence, Andoaragain (Modern Harmonic)
One of the greatest damaged psychedelic-soul-folk opuses ever gets expanded to three LPs. Ex-Moby Grape guitarist/vocalist and Jefferson Airplane drummer Spence was America's Syd Barrett in terms of damaged genius. What a peak he achieved on Oar.
Various Artists, Sugar Hill Records 40th Anniversary Boxed Set (Rhino)
The exciting birth pangs of hip-hop get splayed out for you on six 12-inch singles housed in a DJ box. Comes with download card, just as Grandmaster Flash would want it.
John Cage Meets Sun Ra, John Cage Meets Sun Ra (Modern Harmonic)
A 7-inch with a DVD documenting the heady summit meeting between these giants of avant-garde music and astral jazz.
Hawkwind, The 1999 Party - Live at the Chicago Auditorium 21st March, 1974 (Rhino/Parlophone)
Two-LP live document from a particularly strong era of these British space-rock demons.
Also worth braving clusterfucks:
Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers, Music of Many Colors (Knitting Factory)
Green River, Live at the Tropicana 1984 (Jackpot)
Bill Evans, Evans in England (Resonance)
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks - Original New York Test Pressing (Legacy)
François de Roubaix, Les Lèvres Rouges (Music on Vinyl)
Herbie Hancock, Dedication (Get on Down)
The Groundhogs, Thank Christ for the Bomb (Fire)
Lightnin' Hopkins, Strums the Blues (Third Man)
Captain Beefheart, Trout Mask Replica (Third Man)
Kristin Hersh, Crooked (FAME)
Al Green, The Hi Records Singles Box Set (Fat Possum)
Cecil Taylor, The Great Paris Concert (ORG)
Erykah Badu & James Poyser, Tempted (Yep Roc)
The Minus 5, Stroke Manor (Yep Roc)
Kool Keith, Complicated Trip (Anti-Corp)
Mission of Burma, Peking Spring (Taang!)
The Parliaments, Baby I Owe You Something Good (Tuff City 10")
Lee "Scratch" Perry, Rootz Reggae Dub - Special Edition (MEGAWAVE)
Van Morrison, Astral Weeks (Rhino)
Yes, Yes (50th Anniversary) (Rhino)
Devo, This Is DEVO Box (Rhino)
Rasputin's Stash, Stash (Family Groove)
Todd Rundgren, The Complete U.S. Bearsville & Warner Bros. Singles (Bearsville)
Sunn O))), Life Metal (Southern Lord)
Shocking Blue, Singles Collection (Music on Vinyl)
Sly & the Family Stone, Woodstock Sunday August 17, 1969 (Legacy)
Swervedriver, "Think I'm Gonna Feel Better"/"Reflections" (Dangerbird)
Link Wray, "Vernon's Diamond"/"My Brother, My Son" (Easy Eye)
Various Artists, Boombox 45 Box Set - Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro and Disco Rap 1979-83 (Soul Jazz)
*As asserted by Neil Young and other audio savants who know more than you do.