Record Store Day 2016

It’s finally here – Record Store Day 2016.  The much anticipated, much debated, much maligned celebration of vinyl and your local indie record store.

It’s been interesting to watch the development of RSD over the last few years as it morphed from a great idea about how to get people to visit indie record shops into what often seems like a creepy dude trying to reach into your front pocket and get his paws on whatever cash you might happen to have at the moment.  I’ve read a number of critical articles by record store owners who feel like the whole thing has turned into more of a negative than a positive, from the really little guy who can’t afford to buy RSD product to the store hung with a bunch of crap that it can’t sell once the day has past, effectively negating the profit he made on the stuff he was able to sell.  And lets not forget the small labels and bands who can’t get their vinyl pressed in the months leading up to the big day since all the very limited record pressing plant resources are eaten up by the bigger labels as they churn out overpriced, unneeded product.  And what about the long lines for shoppers, and the people who start lining up the day before so they can get all the rarest, most desirable items and immediately take them home to post on eBay in search of a quick profit?  Gosh, is there anyone left who actually likes Record Store Day?

Well, this guy does to some extent.  Yeah, I hate standing in lines too.  But you know what?  A few years back Holly and I got to talking to the guy behind us in the hour-long checkout line at Easy Street, and today we consider that guy a good friend of ours (hey Travis!).  I certainly have empathy for the struggles of the small business owner too… which is part of the reason why I still go out there and stand in those lines and give them my cash, because if we don’t support them and instead sit at home and save $2 by ordering something online, there won’t be any more record stores to go to.  Look, I don’t know why the world needs some of these releases… but hey, if someone else wants to buy that stuff, let them.  It’s easy to sit around and talk crap about this year’s Justin Bieber Purpose picture disc, but let’s not forget the dude has sold a bajillion albums and singles over the years, and if someone wants that, let ’em have it.  It’s their money, and they’re enjoyment.

IMG_0802

This year I was excited about some very Seattle-centric limited releases, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on all three over at Easy Street this morning.  These included the first 12″ version of Green River‘s 1984 Demos and KEXP Presents:  Raw Power – A Tribute to Iggy & The Stooges, a live event played last year on the roof of Pike Place Market featuring an all-star Stooges cover band.  But the big one was The Sonics Live at Easy Street, a limited edition vinyl release of the show The Sonics performed at our very own Easy Street Records on RSD 2015.  This is the first time I can think of that a live album has been released of a show that I actually attended, so I’m kind of excited about it.  Plus Easy Street put their own spin on the copies for sale in their shop, creating their own individually numbered sleeve and including a ticket from the show, a photo copy of the set list, and a few other goodies, which made convinced me to cough up some cash even though I already pre-ordered a signed copy a month or so ago.  I can’t wait to give this one a spin.

I picked up some other RSD titles as well, plus found a few used nuggets in the New Arrivals bin including Bob Marley’s Legend and The Biggest Blow – A Punk Prayer by Ronnie Biggs.  As an added bonus, by time we arrived about 2.5 hours after the shop opened, there were no lines and we were in and out in no time.

Regardless of how you feel about RSD, make sure to get out there and support your local record store.  Yeah, I know that you can usually find something a bit cheaper online, and you still have to make smart buying decisions with your money.  But if you don’t help ’em out, you don’t get to complain about how there are no more record stores for you to go visit.  Shop local, shop indie.

Record Store Day 2014

I approached Record Store Day 2014 with both excitement and apprehension, as usual.  Excitement because there was so much cool stuff on the schedule for release; apprehension because I know it’s just one big mess at a lot of the stores, mostly due to people’s boorish behavior.  My #1 want was Mudhoney’s On Top: KEXP Presents Mudhoney Live on Top of the Space Needle, though given that (1) it was limited to 2,700 copies and (2) I live in the band’s “home” town of Seattle, I figured my chances were slim unless I wanted to camp out.  Which I didn’t.  And I didn’t get a copy.

Regardless, Mrs. Life in the Vinyl Lane and I hopped in the vinylmobile this morning, got coffee, and headed to Easy Street Records in West Seattle.  We arrived at just after 7AM, which is when the doors opened.  People were still funneling in from the outside, and I have to say it was at least somewhat organized and I didn’t see anyone acting like a complete and total asshole.  The guy behind me in line had already been through once and was carrying a huge stack of vinyl (including the elusive Mudhoney, damn him!) back upstairs where all the 12″ records were, having come back downstairs for a few minutes to scour the 7″ and 10″ releases.  He let me know I was way too late for Mudhoney (thanks guy), which was confirmed by the dude working upstairs (Easy Street only got half of what they tried to get in their order).  Oh well.

2014rsd1As you can see, it was crowded as hell, but more or less orderly which was nice.  I picked up the Half Japanese Volume One:  1981-1985 three record set (includes download card… thank you!) along with the limited edition (I believe Seattle exclusive) red vinyl re-release of Screaming Trees Last Words:  The Final Recordings before taking my place in line.  And slooooowwwwllllyyy winding my way through the store to the cash registers, which took about an hour (no joke).  Fortunately the trip took me through every section downstairs, including used CDs and all the 7″ records, so I also snagged Foals Live at the Royal Albert Hall that someone had discarded, a Caspar Babypants 7″, and a used CD of Mudhoney covering songs by The Sonics, which is cool.

That was a pretty respectable haul, but there was one specialty item that Easy Street wasn’t carrying, but that the Seattle branch of Silver Platters was:  Eilon Paz’s monster record collector book Dust & Grooves:  Adventures in Record Collecting.  If you haven’t checked out Eilon’s website devoted to vinyl collector profiles, you really should both because his interviews are great and his photography is fantastic.  So we headed to Silver Platters and got there about 20 minutes after they opened.  I initially intended only to look for the Mudhoney record and the book, but of course was immediately distracted by the huge selection of RSD titles and in short order found myself carrying Ice-T Greatest Hits, Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back with the 3D cover, the Pagans what’s this shit? 1977/1979, and the RSD special picture disc version of Motörhead‘s newest album Aftershock.  Oh yeah, and a copy of the book I actually came for!

2014rsd2The line here was crazy long as well, but with one more cash register open than Easy Street had, it actually moved surprisingly fast – it took us maybe 30 minutes to get through. And to top it off, when we got home what was waiting for me in the mailbox?  The split LegendSólstafir limited edition 7″ I ordered like six months ago!  Score!

Now, I don’t have kids, so I’ve never been able to experience how much portable electronics have made it easier to travel with the little ones.  I mean, the best I could do on a long car trip or flight when I was young was draw, read, or play with my G.I. Joes, all of which gets old pretty quick when you’re a kid and are stuck in a seat.  But I have to say that having a smart phone takes the edge off of standing in line.  Texting with Travis of the Guerrilla Candy blog and reading/posting RSD updates on FB with my friends helped pass the time quite a bit.  As, of course, did listening to the conversations going on around me, some of which were replete with complaining girlfriends (“this line isn’t moving at all”) and various levels of music and movie snobbery.

You know, despite not getting the one record I really, really, really, really (really!) wanted, it was a very positive RSD experience.  I got some cool and unexpected stuff, more material for the blog!  And I’ll probably just break down and go onto eBay and get a copy of that Mudhoney record.  I’ll pay “too much,” but at least I’ll have it.  Sometimes that’s what you have to do.

Record Store Day 2013

I have a love/hate relationship with Record Store Day.  I love that so much cool stuff is released on vinyl – from the re-releases to the limited edition versions on colored vinyl, different formats, rare b-sides, you name it, I get excited to see all of this coming out on vinyl.  It’s a huge boon for indie record stores as the crowds waiting in line attest to.  The selection is deep, and it’s fun.

But I hate waiting in insanely long lines, and perhaps even more so I really hate all the jostling and overall poor behavior as people try to get their hands on items as if they were starving and reaching for a loaf of bread.  Let’s get it straight – these are just records.  They’re completely unnecessary.  But from the looks of some rabid collectors foaming at the mouth you’d think a life or death struggle was underway.  The stores could perhaps do more to control this, but they’re outmanned – you’ve got a small number of employees who still have to do normal employee stuff, a relatively small amount of space and product, and a big group of people.  Mind you, only a handful are truly unruly or rude, but it can certainly sour the experience.  This isn’t the fault of Record Store Day, or even of the stores; this is more a comment on our society.

So… it was with some trepidation that we decided to head out to West Seattle to hit up Easy Street Records, which was opening its doors at the ridiculous hour of 7AM.  I had one item on atop my want list – the re-release of Mad Season‘s one and only album Above, a limited edition pressing (of 5,000) with a few new tracks sung by Mark Lanegan of the Screaming Trees.  I figured my chances of getting it were 50/50 – Easy Street was having Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready (former member of Mad Season) in for a signing later in the day, so I figured they’d secured a decent number of copies.  But I wasn’t planning on waiting in line to get in, so we got there around 7:30AM and I headed upstairs.

The vinyl section was a bit of a madhouse, but not terrible.  Unfortunately, however, the Record Store Day section was packed and those in the area were informing everyone around that Above was totally gone.  Some guy right next to me somehow found a random copy that made it into the Miscellaneous M section to my immense dismay, as I figured I was SOL at this point.  But then… about 10 minutes later, while I was still trying to shoulder my way into the RSD section, an Easy Street Employee next to me opened up a cardboard box and shouted, “Who wants Mad Season?  I got Mad Season!”  Bam!  I managed to get ahold of a copy, and it made the whole thing worth it.  While there I picked up a copy of the Bombino 10″ (edition of 3,000) and a newly released Soundgarden 10″ and got into line… where I slowly, over the course of an hour (no exaggeration), made my way to the register.  Along the way Holly and I chatted with a few people around us (one of who told us he arrived at 5AM… and was the 20th person in line, two hours before the store opened) and picked up a few CDs as we weaved through the aisles, most notably the new Depeche Mode and a three CD box set of early Wipers albums, plus a vinyl copy of The Zombies that someone evidently didn’t want and just put down randomly.  Knowing I had my copy of Above, plus the good company, made the wait tolerable, and overall the haul was a good one.

We were going to head down to Hi-Voltage in Tacoma next, but I already had my top three items, and a quick check of Facebook showed that the line waiting to get into Hi-Voltage was long, so we skipped it and headed back to Bellevue so Holly could run some errands and I could check out Silver Platters.  It was a lot less crowded there, and I picked up a few more decent items – a PiL 7″ (edition of 2,200), the Jimi Hendrix “Hey Joe” 7″ (edition of 3,000), a Factory Records 10″ featuring Joy Division and New Order (edition of 1,000), and a sweet box set of Scientific Dub on three 10″ records, none of which I saw at Easy Street.  From there we made a quick stop on the way home at our truly local shop, Vortex, and while they didn’t have any RSD titles I wanted, I did find a used copy of Black Flag’s Jealous Again in the “New Arrivals” section, so it certainly wasn’t a wasted stop.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff after just having returned from Reykjavik with a huge pile of vinyl and CDs, but RSD only comes around once a year and I knew I’d be sorry if I missed it.  I sort of lucked out in getting my hands on a copy of Above, but that’s the way it works sometimes.  So now I have an even bigger backlog of vinyl to listen to… so I suspect the blog posts will be coming fast and furious over the next few months.  Stay tuned!