Time once again for Black Friday Record Store Day, that necessary boost in the bottom line for music retailers (and asshole record-flippers) and chronic pain for small labels looking to get their vinyl pressed in a timely manner. Despite the flaws of this manufactured holiday, it always yields sonic treasures. Below, I present a not-at-all-comprehensive sampling of the most interesting releases coming out on November 29. Go here for the complete list.
Jeff Buckley, Live on KCRW: Morning Becomes Eclectic (Legacy). Unreleased live performances by Tim Buckley's very talented offspring commemorates the 25th anniversary of Jeff's debut studio album, Grace. Augmented by the band with which he recorded Grace, Buckley performs “Mojo Pin,” “So Real,” “Lover, You Should Have Come Over,” and others.
Alex Chilton, My Rival (Omnivore 10"). Previously unreleased songs by the Big Star/Box Tops legend, including “Windows Hotel,” “My Rival,” and “She Might Look My Way” (with former Big Star band mate Chris Bell).
The Comet Is Coming, Afterlife (Verve). Rising UK jazz-fusion ensemble's follow-up companion EP to Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery. You need its cosmic tones for mental therapy.
Miles Davis, Early Minor: Rare Miles from the Complete In a Silent Way Sessions (Legacy). Three long pieces from the late '60s—"Splashdown," "Early Minor," and "The Ghetto Walk"—make their vinyl debuts, after first coming out on the 2001 CD box set of In a Silent Way, one of Miles's many stone classics.
Dr. John, Babylon (Get on Down). A 50th anniversary re-release of one the late New Orleans legend's most ambitious full-lengths. For many fans, Babylon is the next best thing to the voodoo-funk mind-bender, Gris-Gris, Dr. John's undisputed peak.
Edan, Beauty and the Beat (Lewis Entertainment). A pinnacle of psych-rock-sampling indie hip-hop. Back in these pages in 2006, I wrote of The Beauty and the Beat: "Edan's grasp of funk is as solid as Ultramagnetic MCs', but he embellishes that with samples of left-field sunshine pop, fuzz-toned psych/garage rock, and spacey synth bleeps. It's an endorphin-flooded flashback to the future."
Aretha Franklin, The Atlantic Singles 1968 (Atlantic 7" box set). Four singles from the Queen of Soul's extra-potent year of 1968, including "Think" / "You Send Me" and "The House That Jack Built" / "Say a Little Prayer."
Herbie Hancock, Directstep (Get on Down). Rare live recording by the innovative fusion keyboardist/composer from a 1978 Japan show, featuring "Butterfly," "Shiftless Shuffle," and "I Thought It Was You."
The JBs, More Mess on My Thing (Now-Again). Here's the demo that Bootsy Collins and his band recorded for James Brown in 1969 that earned them the honor of becoming the Godfather of Soul's backing unit—and in the process, laid down one of the key layers of hip-hop's foundation. Includes the complete version of “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” and the unreleased instrumental, “The Wedge.”
Lizzo, Coconut Oil EP (Atlantic). Lizzo's 2016 EP gets its first vinyl release, on milky-white wax... with a coconut-scented insert.
The Pretenders, UK Singles 1979-1981 (Rhino 7" box set). Celebrate the Anglo-American new-wave greats' 40th anniversary with some of their most gripping songs ("Tattooed Love Boys," Stop Your Sobbing," "What You Gonna Do About It," "Cuban Slide," etc.).
Pylon, "Cool" / "Dub" (New West). Killer 1979 new-wave single by the best rock group out of Athens, Georgia. Fight me, R.E.M. and B-52s fans.
Buffy Sainte-Marie, Illuminations (Craft Recordings). Fiftieth-anniversary reissue of this folk singer's most psychedelic and best LP, which includes the greatest Leonard Cohen cover ever, "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot."
Tamba 4, California Soul (Elemental Music). A 50-year-old LP recorded and mixed by legendary producer Rudy Van Gelder, California Soul is a sublime example of bossa-nova-inflected pop by Brazil's Tamba 4.
Cecil Taylor, Indent (ORG Music). Recorded in Ohio in 1973, this long-out-of-print live solo LP will be a godsend for fans of this idiosyncratic, avant-jazz-piano genius.
Velvert Turner Group, Velvert Turner Group (ORG Music). Because he was a protégé and student of Jimi Hendrix, Velvert Turner often gets mistaken for the guitar god. You could say that with Velvert Turner Group's self-titled 1972 album (which has been unavailable on vinyl for 47 years), he did ample justice to the Hendrix legacy—even if he hewed a bit too close to the great man's six-string and vocal mannerisms. A cover of Jimi's "Freedom" seals the deal.
Various Artists, Motown Rare & Unreleased (UMe). Exactly what it says on the tin: overlooked tunes from the roster of Detroit's most famous soul/R&B label, featuring famous names (Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Supremes, Jackson 5, etc.) and more obscure figures (the Originals, Brenda Holloway, Bobby Taylor).
A full list of Record Store Day Black Friday releases are posted on the RSD website.