Judging from the looks on the faces of most of my work colleagues when I mentioned Record Store Day to them this week (even more blank than normal. It would be uncharitable to say that for some this is no mean feat) there remains great swathes of the population who remain bafflingly untouched by the phenomenon of International Record Store Day. It is no surprise, I suppose. Vinyl sales are no more than 2% of global sales of physical product (i.e. CDs, records, cassettes, 8-track etc), and physical product no more than 50% of total music sales, (the rest being downloads and streaming) so vinyl record buyers comprise less than one in a hundred of music fans. But RSD15 is a day that this small minority of black-plastic-disc-chasers regard more fondly than Christmas Day.
This Saturday 18th April 2015 is the latest of these annual events, and will be marked by exclusive releases of new music, fancy and often colourful / expensive re-releases of older records no longer easily available except in used record shops, and plenty of instore appearances by DJs and bands across the world’s Independent Record Stores. Which, given the general lack of Virgin Megastores, HMVs and Tower Records chains basically just translates into “No Supermarket Involvement”.
Jack White is releasing the acetate from Elvis Presley’s first session, Bruce Springsteen is re-releasing his albums in limited editions, and Metallica are re-releasing their 1982 demo No Life ’til Leather on cassette. (Note to Metallica: cassettes are a bit rubbish. Since they invented the kind of MP3s that you don’t have to stick a pencil into to wind on – i.e. Every MP3 file ever invented – there hasn’t been a need for tapes)…
It’s a great incentive to get yourself down to your local record shop to see whether you still feel intimidated by the surly looking Goth at the counter just as you did when you first went into a record shop to buy your first Status Quo LP, Wham! single or Adam Ant cassette.
If you haven’t been inside a record shop for a while it may come as a surprise to you that they tend to be manned by more normal people nowadays, many of whom are rather wonderful and helpful. The recession was pretty brutal to surly goths in the retail industry, it transpires.
For the more committed, this is actually the 313th Record Store Day since Record Store Day 2014 (well, my local shop closes on Sundays): after all, a record store is for life, not just for Record Store Day.
Aside from the continuing erosion of the phrase “Record Shop”, (I’ll get over it I’m sure) this is better than Christmas Day for many of us:
- We wake up far too early with butterflies in our tummies (albeit at my age, that may just be evidence of last night’s beer and curry),
- Overnight a big sack of previously unattainable goodies has been delivered, albeit admittedly not at the foot of the bed – that would rather undermine the whole point around visiting an independent record shop,
- We have followed stars (of the rock and pop variety),
- There is news of wise men in the (Rough Trade) East, presumably those at the front of the queue, holding their gifts of gold, frankincense* and mmm, er, platinum discs.
- Sure, you have to wait around making small talk with a group of unfamiliar people you only have one thing in common with, but is that so dissimilar to sitting down for Christmas Dinner with your in-laws? At least you don’t have to eat overcooked sprouts outside the record shop. Hopefully.
- It also evokes childhood memories of Christmas when you find you didn’t get the expensive Raleigh Chopper (as the person in front of you in the queue nabs the last copy of that deluxe White Stripes LP), but you did end up with the less pricey game of Buckaroo (as you swiftly lay claim to a Father John Misty picture disc and Courtney Barnett 10″) instead.
So here’s your essential checklist for a successful day:
- List of Records being released. You can find that by clicking this link.
- Wallet – including robust credit card for emergency purchases.
- Flask of coffee, snacks etc for the early morning queue.
- Phoney dog poo, plastic spiders and other similar distraction tools to use on anyone ahead of you in the queue and likely to grab a copy of what you’re looking for.
And don’t forget, most of last year’s exclusive releases can be found on Discogs now for about what people paid for them last year, so if you miss out on Saturday, there’s always another chance.
Unless you missed out on that Arctic Monkeys purple vinyl 7″ single in 2012 that now fetches £80. Sorry about that.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t book yourself a weekend away so you’re a hundred miles from the nearest store. Like I just did this weekend, dammit…
Best of luck!
* well, frankincense-coloured vinyl. Work with me here…