Published Apr 17, 2018
After marking a decade of all things vinyl last year, Record Store Day is kicking off another 10 years of celebrating the independent record store with the event's 11th instalment this week.
By now, you all know the drill — the massive list of exclusive releases curated for the day includes all manner of LPs, EPs, 7-inches, picture discs, shape discs and more, ranging from long out-of-print essentials to releases that leave you scratching your head as to why they were pressed up in the first place. Some are bound to get snapped up quickly, while others have a tendency to get steadily marked down as they get demoted to the discount bin.
As in past years, Exclaim! is looking to help you out when it comes to your own RSD shopping list, separating the wheat from the chaff by collecting the best — and worst — of what's around into one handy list. Ahead of leaving your listening space to go join the musical masses on Saturday (April 21), read on for our picks to spin, and those you should leave in the bin this Record Store Day.
You can look through lists of North American exclusive releases here and the UK exclusive here.
You can look through lists of North American exclusive releases here and the UK exclusive here.
The Best Releases of Record Store Day 2018:
10. Robert Glasper
Robert Glasper x KAYTRANADA: The ArtScience Remixes
A collaboration that was potentially born from a tweet a couple of years back, The ArtScience Remixes finds Kaytranada putting his own eight-track spin on Glasper's 2016 LP ArtScience. You can be sure the Canadian producer is up to the task, having remixed the likes of Rihanna, Gorillaz and more. But not only is Kaytranada one of the most exciting young producers going, he's also unfailingly unique, boasting a style we anticipate could lend itself quite well to Glasper's jazzy prowess. For good measure, the set includes cameos from Don Cheadle, Talib Kweli, Alex Isley and Iman Omari. (Calum Slingerland)
9. Mac DeMarco
Old Dog Demos
Always one to be in a giving spirit, Mac DeMarco often releases a subsequent companion piece to each of his albums containing demos and outtakes, giving fans a glimpse into his DIY process. Last year's This Old Dog is no exception, since the quirky Canadian goofball is releasing Old Dog Demos. A 15-song collection consisting of demos, instrumentals and a previously unreleased B-side, this is sure to be another entertaining glimpse into DeMarco's unique world. An odds 'n' sods compilation like this isn't going to take the world by storm, but it's a must-hear for dedicated fans. (Alex Hudson)
8. Piero Umiliani
Musica Dell'Era Tecnologica
Despite releasing a mind-boggling array of visionary soundtrack and library albums, late Italian maestro Piero Umiliani remains one of the modern world's most criminally underrated composers. Thankfully, that's changed little by little in more recent years due to the efforts of a small handful of dedicated labels. This includes the folks over at long-running reissue hub Dagored, who are reissuing Umiliani's long-lost library album Musica Dell'Era Tecnologica this RSD. The album was originally released in 1972 and recorded by Umiliani in his legendary Soundworkshop Studios in Rome, with the maestro going deep into the world synth-fuelled electronics. As Ambient Exotica once described it, "Piero Umiliani has taken things too far with Musica Dell'Era Tecnologica. Way too far. And since he dares to visit innermost heliospheres and microscopic galaxies that are deemed outright crazy to even the most diehard composer of Moog and synth material, he succeeds in his own, very peculiar way." With originals being more the thing of legend than reality, this first-ever reissue is more than a little needed, both for library and electronic heads alike. (Brock Thiessen)
Illmatic: Live from the Kennedy Center
Back 2014, we saw the 20 year anniversary of Nas' debut album Illmatic, and to commemorate the occasion, the MC performed the release front-to-back alongside the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. While a concert film featuring backstage footage and commentary saw release earlier this year, the audio will arrive as a 2xLP set on 180-gram vinyl, which will also include a two-sided, gold foil-embossed poster, gold-embossed sleeves featuring photos from the performance and a download card for digital enjoyment. Not only does the album and its presentation breathe new life into a genre staple, but an effort deservedly heralded of the greatest debut records of all time. (Calum Slingerland)
6. Ennio Morricone Triptych
Italian maestro Ennio Morricone has released a lot of albums — and we mean a lot. Yet many of his works still remain complete mystery to even the most hardcore fans, either due to certain albums' utter scarcity or the fact they have never even made it to vinyl. This RSD the journey into the world of Morricone has got a little easier thanks to a trio of new releases, with each featuring some seriously rare works from the maestro. AMS will treat us to the extremely hard-to-find Un Esercito Di 5 Uomini, a 1969 Morricone Western score that features MVPs Bruno Nicolai and Alessandro Alessandroni's I Cantori Moderni. Then Arrow Records will present Autopsy, marking the first time Morricone's Edda Dell'Orso-featuring score to the giallo thriller has ever arrived on vinyl — and as a 180-gram 2-LP no less. And Rusblade will show off Morricone's more experimental side with the insanely obscure Drammi Gotici, which promises to take you on "a hallucinating trip into terror." Really, you can't go wrong with any of these. (Brock Thiessen)
5. J Dilla
Ruff Draft: Dilla's Mix
As one of hip-hop's most revered beatsmiths, J Dilla's collection of posthumous releases has by and large done more to further his legacy than detract from it, from beloved studio LPs The Shining and Jay Stay Paid to the unique 41-track Dillatronic. Another addition to the producer's posthumous catalogue is set to arrive this Record Store Day with Ruff Draft: Dilla's Mix. The project packages recently discovered mixes of Dilla's seminal 2003 EP on one slab of wax, while the second disc includes unreleased tracks as part of an alternate vision the producer had for the initial Ruff Draft release. Author Ronnie Reese penned new liner notes telling Dilla's story, with the set also including never before published photos from the Ruff Draft sessions. (Calum Slingerland)
(Get On Down)
The fact that some truly unsavory characters have dominated discussions surrounding New York rap these past few years makes it all the more important to reflect on the dominance that Cam'ron and the Diplomats displayed in the early oughts. RSD 2018 is ready to give listeners that opportunity by bringing Killa Cam's Purple Haze back to wax. In addition to including favourites like "Get 'Em Girls" and "The Dope Man," the album also features a young Kanye West handling production on "Down & Out" and "Dip-Set Forever." Like its initial release on Roc-A-Fella, Purple Haze will make its return on purple vinyl, and it shouldn't be understated how happy we are to see Cam'ron all-timer "I get computers putin'" immortalized in microgrooves once more. (Calum Slingerland)
3. David Bowie
Welcome to the Blackout (Live in London '78)
We're always hungry for more David Bowie music, and Record Store Day is bringing us four archival releases this year. By far the best is Welcome to the Blackout (Live in London '78), a previously unreleased triple-LP concert album recorded over two nights by Tony Visconti and produced by Bowie himself. It contains many of Bowie's most beloved '70s material, from Ziggy Stardust through to his Berlin period. Slightly less cool is another reissue of 1967's David Bowie, the late-'70s promo LP Bowie Now (which compiles songs from Low and "Heroes"), and an extended 12-inch version of the previously released "Let's Dance" demo. (Alex Hudson)
2. Brian Eno with Kevin Shields
The Weight of History + Only Once Away My Son
The thought of sonic heroes Brian Eno and Kevin Shields joining forces for a new record seems too good to be true. But here we are in 2018, and that very thing has just happened. Eno and the My Bloody Valentine leader have joined forces for a new two-track 12-inch called The Weight of History + Only Once Away My Son. The latter track recently came as part of the Adult Swim's Singles Program, and if that epic nine-minute-plus soundscape is anything to go by, this entire release is going to be a scorcher. So you may want to break out the headphones for this one. (Brock Thiessen)
1. Arcade Fire
A year before 2004's landmark album Funeral, Arcade Fire made their debut with a self-titled EP often referred to by fans as Us Kids Know. While it has subsequently been reissued digitally and on CD, it's never been put on vinyl until this pressing (which is numbered and comes on transparent blue wax). Notably, this EP includes the first version of the live staple "No Cars Go" — a song subsequently re-recorded for 2007's Neon Bible. The fact that it's coming out on Legacy Recordings — Sony Music's catalog division, typically focusing on classic dinosaur acts — shows just how far Arcade Fire have come in the 15 years since this EP was first released. (Alex Hudson)
The Worst Releases of Record Store Day 2018:
5. The Notorious B.I.G.
Record Store Day made the right moves with the catalogue of the Notorious B.I.G. by bringing 1994's Ready to Die and 1997's Life After Death back to wax as part of its 2013 and 2014 events, respectively. Realistically, Rhino should have stopped there, but the uneven posthumous comp Born Again and "Mo Money Mo Problems" were treated to their own limited coloured pressings as well. In the vein of the latter, B.I.G.'s "Juicy" is set to come back as a 12-inch on coloured vinyl for the first time since its release, but there's no real shortage of direct metal mastered copies that you can have as a relic from a time when hip-hop (and everything else in this life) wasn't so shamelessly commodified. Here's hoping that Biggie's mother is seeing a big cut of these cheques year after year. (Calum Slingerland)
4. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift, 1989, Fearless Platinum Edition
This trio of releases from Taylor Swift have ended up on our Worst list not because of her corny trademark attempts, pop star feuds or embrace of victimhood, but because the products themselves might be of questionable quality. Swift's self-titled debut, her pop-geared 1989 and the expanded "Platinum Edition" of Fearless have all been pressed to vinyl through Big Machine in the past, though a small faction of Swifties with discerning ears have said the releases were "completely butchered." Some complaints on Discogs specifically cite the sibilance of Swift's vocals as "excruciating" and "painful to listen to" on Fearless, adding that the records make for "a very expensive display piece, nothing more." In all fairness, it could have been a pressing issue that plagued the releases the first time around. But as the old adage goes, "buyer beware." (Calum Slingerland)
3. Sugar Ray
Fly 20th Anniversary
(Razor & Tie Industries)
"Fly" is an excellent song when you're half cut and going on a '90s kick on Spotify. But that in no way merits it coming out on a new 7-inch that includes two different versions of the same song — the A-side features reggae singer Super Cat and the B-side is a "Rock Mix." (Sugar Ray's 1997 album Floored also featured two versions of "Fly.") Despite the song's so-bad-it's-good gimmick appeal, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to put this on the turntable, then get up four minutes later to flip the record over and listen to another version. This is being billed as a 20th anniversary edition, but it's a year too late for that — instead, it's just a shameless nostalgia cash grab. (Alex Hudson)
Back in Black (Cassette)
Cassette tapes have somehow made enough of a comeback to warrant the creation of Cassette Store Day, but that doesn't mean that Record Store Day won't try to make a mint off the format too. Take the re-release of AC/DC's Back in Black — its status as one of the best selling albums in history is undisputed, but would anyone rather hear Brian Johnson wailing away on 1/8-inch tape as opposed to a more stable format? Maybe if you're looking to model yourself after the dart-hacking, plate-pushing Billy Hargrove from Stranger Things, but he was more of a Ratt guy. Besides, you'll surely be able to hear Back in Black's hard-rocking hits in higher fidelity by tuning in to your local classic rock radio station. (Calum Slingerland)
1. Lou Reed & Kris Kristofferson
In Their Own Words
(The Bottom Line Records)
Interview albums might have served a worthwhile purpose in the days before YouTube, but it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to sit down and listen to these 1994 onstage interviews with Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson — on vinyl, no less. Sure, there are some song performances too, but you've got to sit through numerous spoken world tracks before you ever get to "Sweet Jane" or "Me and Bobby McGee." Picture discs tend to be known for their low sound quality, but that doesn't matter much in this case — because really, who cares about the fidelity of an interview, and who is ever going to bother listening to this more than once? The previous CD release of this was more than sufficient, thank you. (Alex Hudson)