This may come as a shock to those who know me personally, but I’ve never, ever ventured out on Record Store Day before. I guess it’s like my wife used to say when asked what her New Year’s plans were. She would reply, “I don’t go out on New Year’s Eve – that’s for amateurs.” Indeed, there’s not a day of my life when I’m not thinking about what records I want to buy. Whenever I travel, I always make it a point to search out any intriguing record stores first and set aside a few hours to visit them. Print maps and the like. Trips to record stores are frequent enough events in my day-to-day existence so that the idea of a special day set aside for it seems a bit queer on the face of it. So the first three years that this happened I didn’t bite.
This year I did. Why? Well, for the first time there was a unique RSD release that I potentially wanted to buy! Record Store Day exclusive released have mushroomed into a huge trend that hypes both the event and the bands participating. Scads of your favorite grey-haired rockers will see their old hits given the go on 7″ vinyl, possibly for the last time. All well and good for them, but the parade of tired old superstars and hungry young upstarts does little for me. All of the bands are usually very “worthy” and “respected,” and in my universe that can often mean “not in my collection.” So when the perennially foppish and occasionally spot on Duran Duran were releasing a single of “Girl Panic!” as remixed by David Lynch, well, that’s so crazy it just might work! Sign me up!
Harvest, being of the rock ilk, opens on 11 a.m. on Saturday mornings. That’s as early as rock types can manage to get moving after a Friday night, I suppose. I arrived there 15 minutes early to see a line of about 150-200 people snaking around the building past the adjacent businesses. Fortunately, Harvest had doubled their size last month when the tenant next to them moved following the end of their lease. If I had seen that many people waiting to enter the old Harvest, I would have bailed. That points to another reason why RSD had not exactly been catnip to me. As a veteran of many a record show, I know the irritation of trying to browse bins with a pressing crowd of smelly people jamming into me.
After roughly 20 minutes the line began moving and the queue began to enter the store. The store is now segregated into CD and vinyl haves, and there was a special display with all of the 7″ RSD goodness. The crowd swarmed around the bins in a chaotic but non-violent display. I could see the Duran Duran single sitting at the front of the “D” section; untouched by the frenzied punters. Truth be told, I was slightly amazed to see the store had ordered any copies of it at all. In the North Carolina town where I live, groups like Duran Duran are far from popular! Where I used to live in Florida, there was a vast enclave of Duran fans who would have stripped that display like a school of piranha at feeding time! Truth be told, the store probably ordered the five copies they were selling to sate the town’s David Lynch fans! I waited for my chance and carefully reached when the way was clear from my 6’4″ vantage point and plucked the prize without violating anyone’s personal space.
Having gotten what I had came for, I made my way to the all but neglected digital half of the store and browsed the bins with ludicrous ease! Gullible fools! I’ll buy the CDs if you won’t!!! One new release I was hot to get was in the display up front as it had been released the previous Tuesday. I had heard Cold Cave’s new album “Cherish The Light Years” streaming on The Quietus, and after hearing just the first tune, “The Great Pan Is Dead” I was frothing at the mouth to get this new release! This was thrilling synth-based music that reminded me of Glen Branca soundscapes from thirty years earlier! It managed to contain both aggressive and anthemic synth qualities within the same song! As my friend Tom put it, “Spoons meets John Foxx.”
I then went to the used CD bins and proceeded to find many more discs than I had the budget for at this point in time. Of particular interest was the Dual Disc® remaster of “Fear Of Music,” by Talking Heads. The 2006 release is a remastered CD with bonus tracks on one side and a DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix by Jerry Harrison and Eric Thorngren – used for chump change! I also scored the second Ladytron album, “Light + Magic.” That was the only of their album I needed. I found a lot of desirable CDs and then I happened across an album by Neon Neon called “Stainless Style.”
It looked amazing in a way albums haven’t looked amazing in over thirty years. The printing on the inserts featured intricate gloss spot varnish together with foil stamping! I don’t think I’ve ever seen those two printing techniques used on the same project before!!!!! It simply reeked of money! The scans below cannot do the final printed product justice. Suffice to say that it’s been a long time since I bought a release because of the cover. Money has been tight for a long time now and I don’t risk it on unproven properties, but this was so slick and it pushed all of my late 70s graphic design buttons.
Phew! The only trick they missed was using Linotype’s Microgramma Extended font!! This disc looked like… what if Giorgio Moroder had produced John Foxx’s “Metamatic” in 1979! In other words – severe autobahn musik. There were way too many people in the store to ask the desk jockeys to pull it so I could preview it, so I took a leap of faith. For $5.99 it was worth it just for the printing!
After raiding the used CD bins, and chatting amiably with an North Carolina ex-pat who came in from Chicago the day before, I made my way to the vinyl half of the store, which had thinned out somewhat from the initial feeding frenzy. I picked up about half a dozen nice things. I crossed a line in the sand when I saw the ’91 Eurythmics post-modern remix 12″ers of “Sweet Dreams” and “Love Is A Stranger.” I wasn’t planning on spending big mail order to get these for my long-planned Eurythmics BSOG®, but seeing them there in front of me for $1.99 melts my reserve against post-modern remixes and puts me firmly in the canonical camp. So my Eurythmics set will have everything. When I finally get around to it, of course!
After filling my arms with swag, it was time to check out. I got at the back of the line and waited. And waited. And waited. About 45 minutes later, it was my turn to check out and the total came to a modest $60 or so. More than I had planned to spend at this time, but certainly high value for money, keeping in mind that the Cold Cave disc was brand new. But there was still the basement. The basement under the store was being opened this day with bins of $1.00 records to paw through. Since it was cash only, I had about $1.50 in change on me so if I found something, I could afford a single bargain disc.
I had been through this stock last August during the store’s 5th anniversary sale, so I wasn’t getting much love. The bins were heavy on the Johnny Mathis and other mid-50s MOR releases. I spent about 20 minutes down there when lo and behold, I found a Cabaret Voltaire remix 12″ of “Keep On.” Not my favorite of theirs, but this featured the band’s own mix, and that’s the only way I could digest music from the band’s lame-o house EMI music period. With that, I paid the man at the door and made my way to the car, which was parked several blocks away on this busy day. To see the full listing of what I got, check out my “Music Entering The Collection” page.
So Record Store Day was fully worth the 2-3 hours of my Saturday that it took up. There was a lot of music worth buying, but truth be told, only a single disc that I got was an exclusive, and I ended up spending a lot of time waiting. But if one has to wait in a line, at least the stock at Harvest Records made it very worth my while. Regular trips to Harvest have been [much] better than the last three record shows I’ve attended. Believe me, that’s noted. I should probably ramp up the visits to Harvest Records. It’s a store that probably merits a visit every two months the way they’re going these days.
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