As eagerly anticipated by record collectors globally as the release of the Autumn/Winter Argos catalogue was when we were kids. Or, if you are as old as me (and if you collect records there’s half a chance you will be), the Peter Craig or Freeman’s catalogue.
Record Store Day, usually scheduled in April of each year, was postponed soon after lockdown began, but the good news, for those of a vinyl persuasion if not their long-suffering partners, is that it is returning this Saturday.
Social Distancing means that things won’t quite be the same.
Although there are some critics that felt Record Store Day is already socially distanced – from reality when charging fifteen quid for a 7” picture disc – now is not the time to be making snarky remarks from behind our face-masks. We can always leave the over-priced stuff on the shelf, and our record shops need us like never before.
But having a big bundle of gently desperate record collectors scrambling over each other trying to pick up the last limited Hawkwind 12” in the record shop is not going to make everyone feel safe and comfortable.
Even the record companies have recognised if there is one thing that will damage record sales, it’s raising the “R” rate sky high among people who actually buy records.
So record shops are taking a different approach to the usual madness.
Firstly, Record Store Day is being split into three parts. Instead of one Record Store Day, there are three RSD ‘Drop Dates’ in which you can get hold of the RSD titles from local record shops: August 29, September 26 or October 24.
The idea being if there is a particular item you want, the queue will be only a third of the size because only a third of the items for sale will be available.
This approach is an interesting one, and possibly under-estimates the fervour of certain species of record collector, many of whom may find themselves queuing in the cold and rain three times instead of one this year. Such species include those who must buy everything from a particular artist (Vinylus Completis), those who have wide taste and therefore will find something to buy in every selection (Vinylus Eclecticus) and of course those who appear one place in the queue ahead of you and buy up everything solely to sell the items for a profit on eBay (Pondus Scumus).
This year, it pays to be a little more prepared than usual, as wheezing over record racks as you ponder over what takes your fancy may be frowned upon.
This will be especially important at peak times, when queues of people a metre apart are patiently waiting, snaking around the High Street and making other shoppers do the “covid-dance” as they hop from foot to foot, attempting complicated calculations to maintain social distancing that would tax a grand master of chess, just to get to the supermarket and finding a path that doesn’t involve risking life and limb by a) bumping into another human or b) bumping into speeding traffic.
Face mask wearing is particularly important to protect against sudden exhalations, which are likely to occur when people see the prices (only joking).
Instead early birds will be asked by many shops to submit a list of those records they most desire, to be clinically fished out of the racks by Covid-free staff, and sensibly handed over with barge-poles with claws on the end. And don’t bring any of that mucky cash money. Contactless might be the friendly way to go.
And how do we find out what is on sale?
Well, the official channels have helpfully released a list of what’s available for each RSD “Drop Day” which you can find by clicking this link to the Record Store Day site (UK)
And finally, the other nice feature this year for those who are shielding or for whom the prospect of scrumming up against beardie-types in the queue doesn’t quite appeal, is that any unsold stock will be available online from 6pm. A nice way to pick up that Bowie live album you always wanted, and most importantly support your local record shop, without even having to cross their threshold on what is usually their busiest day of the year. You can find out where your nearest record shop is using this official record store day store finder tool, and perhaps give them a call in advance to see what their plans are.
Highlights of tomorrow’s list looks to be a previously unreleased David Bowie live album from 1974’s Soul tour plus releases from Primal Scream, Robyn, Manic Street Preachers, Christine and the Queens, Fela Kuti, Nick Mason and many more…
Best of luck!