When Record Store Day started nine years ago, it was but one great way for labels and artists to show their appreciation to their vinyl-junkie fans who love the form, feel and pure sound of vintage LPs and 7-inch singles. A Saturday in April was set aside, product exclusives were set, and events were planned as though it were a religious holiday.
As time went on, the unique sound quality of wax had a comeback, and sales shot up to $416 million, vinyl’s highest level since 1988, according to the RIAA and Fortune Magazine. Record Store Day has since expanded to other countries and added a second annual date, with Black Friday-exclusive events and releases. There’s even a second RSD Ambassador for Black Friday (Public Enemy’s Chuck D, to go with spring’s ambassadors, Metallica).
"We have always had great experiences with Record Store Day each year," says Sony Music/Legacy Recordings executive Tom Cording. Sony's special offerings this time include a 10-inch Jimi Hendrix special "Morning Symphony Ideas" and Bob Dylan’s "The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966" double album. “The response from vinyl fans to our recorded archives has been phenomenal. It's great to help bring music fans back into local record stores."
Meanwhile, record storeowners and buyers couldn’t agree more.
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Carl Mello, the buyer for 17 Boston-area Newbury Comics shops, says if past years are any indicator, business Friday will be booming. “I’m excited for the [Bob] Dylan, and the Alice in Chains vinyls,” he adds. “Newbury Comics will debut special exclusives from the MC5 and Nat King Cole Christmas stuff.”
“Vinyl is definitely on the upswing; has been for the last five years,” says Dan Matherson, the owner of Repo Records on South Street in Philadelphia. Matherson believes that both annual Record Store Day events were crucial in winning those audiences, with the Black Friday event drawing in crowds of students home for the holiday weekend.
“I ordered a good amount of the Bob Dylan’s ‘The 1966 Live Recordings,’ Otis Redding’s ‘In Person at the Whisky a Go Go,’ the Erykah Badu and Iron Maiden because I know what our crowd’s buying tastes are like,” he adds. “We’ll give away posters and stickers – it’s a party.”
What we're buying this Friday:
Erykah Badu, "But You Caint Use My Phone" Vinyl LP
This summer, the neo-soul songstress earned her 10th funky Top Ten single with “Phone Down,” taken from her hard-to-get mixtape "But You Caint Use My Phone." Now that mixtape is available again with a limited run of 1,500 copies.
The Rolling Stones, "Ride 'Em All Down" 10" Vinyl
In hot anticipation of their new all-blues cover album, "Blue & Lonseome," Jagger, Richards and co. unleash this first raw single — a rough version of Eddie Taylor’s 1955 rager — in, of course, electric blue vinyl.
D.R.A.M., Broccoli 7" Picture Disc
The cuddliest rapper to come out of Virginia, D.R.A.M., releases his summer of 2016 smash hit as a vinyl single exclusive to record stores — complete with a veggie design that looks as if it will be good for you.
Iggy & the Stooges, "Telluric Chaos" 2 Vinyl LPs
With its lifespan recently documented by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch via *Gimme Danger*, the Stooges are having their moment. This early reunion show in Japan in 2004, 30 years after their split, has never been released and can now be found in red and white vinyl.
Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff, "Strung Out in Heaven" Vinyl LP
The Dresden Dolls' chanteuse and her multi-instrumentalist pal covered David Bowie classics — including tracks from 2016's elegiac "Blackstar" — during several celebratory shows at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall following the great man's death. Here they are now.
The Monkees, "Good Times Plus" Vinyl LP
The made-for-TV band returned in 2016 for their 50th anniversary with a Top Ten album, and now, one done up in opaque red vinyl.
Various Artists, "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics" Vinyl LP
South Park's favorite character gets celebrated in brown, scented vinyl by his friends on the Comedy Central cartoon with holiday tunes from Cowboy Timmy ("Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo"), rude Eric Cartman ("O Holy Night") and a handful of songs whose titles are absolutely un-printable.
The Raconteurs, "Steady, As She Goes"/"Store Bought Bones" 7" Vinyl
White Stripes' Jack White's other band delivers its first, best single in cool minty colored plastic.
Otis Redding, "Live at the Whiskey A Go Go" 2 Vinyl LP
The late R&B belter returns to life with this rarely-heard 1966 concert from Hollywood, printed on 180g red vinyl, and housed in a gatefold sleeve.