A cash grab for the music industry? Maybe. An opportunity for your favorite record store to bring in a little extra funds as the year draws to a close? Definitely.
While Record Store Day's "Black Friday" has not grown exponentially, the number of exclusive releases is certainly on the rise. Worth noting too, is the number of titles that are scheduled to come out on or around the day after Thanksgiving, and will later be available en masse. Sure, it sounds like those suits in their ivory tours somewhere in midtown and/or southern California are looking to save a dying industry, but let's not give ourselves too much credit. Our vinyl purchases are not about to resuscitate that which has struggled to survive over the last decade. And quite frankly, even if they could, we may not want our hard-earned dollars to contribute to such a life-saving maneuver. But consider that instead of talking about a major (or that not-so-independent label with the major distribution deal), we're in fact referring to your favorite record store.
There are certainly end-arounds, bank shots and a litany of other sports analogies for ways to contribute to line the pockets of locally owned businesses without helping the big guys, but not at this volume. So let us, as vinyl collectors, put away the curmudgeon attitudes that define us, and for once, not cut off our nose to spite our collective face.
This isn't to say that we shouldn't make every day a Record Store Day spinoff. With every opportunity we should pay that slight markup to favor the store around the corner rather than the website existing out there in the ether. But on Friday, November 23 a whole bunch of records are going to come out, and I'm going to buy some of them. I'm going to buy them because I want them. I want to listen to them. I want them to sit on my record shelves. I want them to be mine. When I'm eventually told just how big the void in my wallet will be, I will take slight solace in knowing some of that exorbitant amount will be going to the store I love. You should too. Because if you've read this far, there's a decent chance there's a neighborhood record shop you love just as much.
And there will be those records that I don't want... those that I cannot possibly imagine anyone wanting. Not now. Not ever. But while I'm wasting my time contemplating the negative, there's someone in line behind me, scoping out my pile, judging me harshly and perhaps justly based on my musical tastes. There are those who only entered the store to achieve seemingly unthinkable goals, never to been seen from again until the next Record Store Day event, to buy that one record I despise... or maybe the three from that band I all but completely erased from my memory. But so what? Does the nature of capitalism and the stranglehold of the few most powerful record labels make your vinyl sound any less sweet? Of course not. So you only bought a couple of records this year. Maybe you decided nothing caught your interest, and so you logically decided to buy nothing at all. Does that make the entire day devoid of a point? Absolutely not.
So get out there. Buy what you want. Don't buy what you don't want. Buy what you think you want, but you probably don't need... or don't. But whatever you decide, know that Record Store Day and all its appendages remain worthy of our attention, and quite possibly our dollars too.
So, without further ado, here are the five titles, over which, if I am unable to purchase on Friday, I will sink into an obsessive shame spiral for days on end. (Not really. No, really. I swear. I won't cry.)*
Grateful Dead - Live at Winterland (5/30/1971)
Recorded live at Winterland on 5/30/1971. All music never before released in any format. Mastered from original 2 track reels. With new liner notes from noted Grateful Dead scholar Blair Jackson.
Mad Season - River of Deceit / I Don't Know Anything
Limited Edition 10", colored vinyl single from Mad Season, an American rock supergroup formed in Seattle, Washington in 1994 by members of three popular Seattle-based bands: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and Screaming Trees (Barrett Martin, Mike McCready, John Baker Saunders and Layne Staley. Mad Season released only one album, Above, and is best known for the single "River of Deceit".
Joe Strummer - Live At Action Town Hall
This benefit concert from 2002, never before physically released, lives large in the hearts of Clash and Joe Strummer fans alike, as the occasion when Mick Jones climbed on stage with the band--the first time Strummer and Jones had appeared together on stage for almost 20 years.
Frank Zappa - Why Don't You Do Me Right, Big Leg Emma
7" single, these two tracks appeared as bonus tracks on the 1989 CD reissue of Absolutely Free. Last released on 7" vinyl in 1967, this is also the first vinyl release from the 2012 Remasters. Gold embossed and numbered.
Original Soundtrack - Reservoir Dogs
20th Anniversary Limited Edition RANDOMLY INSERTED "MISTER-Y" COLORED VINYL available in blonde, blue, brown, orange, white and of course - pink vinyl ear candy. Gold foil stamped and individually numbered.
*To be fair, my list of five does not include any of the "RSD First" releases, that will be available for purchase long after stores have locked their doors on Friday.