Record Store Day: a buyer’s guide
Want to get your mitts on some sweet limited edition black gold drops this Record Store Day? Buro Culturemaker and vinyl fiend Noelle Faulkner tells you how
For dusty-fingered crate-diggers, it's all about the thrill of the chase. There are high-highs, like when you stumble across an original Japanese first pressing of Iggy Pop's The Idiot at a flea market, and then there are low-lows -taking home a sought-after classic to find it's warped or scratched, the anguish of having to flick through so.many.copies.of.Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, or worse, a box of Paul McCartney's god awful solo releases when all you wanted was an early edition of Revolver...
Collecting vinyl is an endurance sport. It involves persistence, boss-bitch decision-making skills, and a clear head. Because, if you're not in the right headspace, the experience can be overwhelming, disappointing, stressfully competitive and very confusing - particularly when Record Store Day, this Saturday April 22, the annual celebration of all things flat and grooved, comes around. So it helps to have a game plan.
For those not in-the-know, Record Store Day is a global event aimed at supporting independent record stores, the artists, the collectors and the cult of this analogue medium. Conceived ten years ago in 2007 by a group of independent record store owners, the story goes, that the bar for RSD to-come was set the very first year, when Metallica famously hung out at Rasputin Music in San Francisco all day with fans and collectors. Then, Jesse Hughes from Eagles of Death Metal coined the title and named himself "Record Store Day Ambassador" in 2009, and every year since has seen another band or artist step into the role and help support the cause including Iggy Pop, Dave Grohl, Jack White, Metallica, and this year's honouree, St Vincent. For the 10th Anniversary, Sir Elton John has also been announced as the first Record Store Day legend and will be dropping his live LP 17.11.70+ for the occasion.
Fun facts aside, the reason Record Store Day is so important is it directly supports the industry, in the most grass roots way possible - by encouraging the public to buy music; tangible, sit-down-and-tune-in music, direct from the people most passionate about it. Buyers can expect to find limited edition drops, ranging from killer 7" singles to live recordings, fresh presses of classics, new albums and white label B-sides, as well as in-store gigs and artist signings. Even if you're not a vinyl pusher, at least consider getting involved, seeing a show, snapping up some merch, or buying your Mum a CD (those count too).
Starting out: Record collecting 101
If you're only just beginning to build a collection, or you're thinking of using this weekend as a good excuse to start one, here's six things you need to know:
1. You will spend a lot of money (and not just on music)
Not only will the cost of vinyl (particularly reissues) get you, there's also no point if you don't have a good sound system and a high quality stylus (needle). So factor that into your budget. If you have an addictive personality, I highly suggest taking a friend and adopting a safety word system. To be perfectly honest, the only reason I'm writing this story right now is because I went to Red Eye Records last weekend, blacked out and woke up broke, albeit richer in smugness - another benefit to collecting vinyl, you earn a licence to be conceited af.
2. Check the quality
It's easy to get caught up in the nostalgia of the cover, but don't trust that the record will always be in good condition. Always also check for scratches, warps and imperfections. A no brainer, really.
3. Investing? Know what to look for
Sure, there's a bajillion The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Blondie and Cream records out there, and by all means, go for it. But if you find an original pressing of Red Hot Chill Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Jeff Buckley's Sketches for my Sweetheart the Drunk, Massive Attack's Mezzanine or pretty much anything cult-y from the mid-90s to 00s, you hold on to that thing for dear life.
When CDs were at their peak, a lot of albums weren't released on vinyl, or if they were, in another country in a very low number. So they're the records that are actually going to appreciate in dollarydoos.
4. Buy something you've never heard of
Most stores will let you listen to your record pre-purchase, so don't be afraid to pick up something completely unknown and esoteric. Some of my favourite LPs are bizarre finds from the bargain bin.
5. Storage is important
Store your vinyls standing upright and never laying down, and far, far away from sunlight or heat. Doing the opposite almost guarantees warping.
6. Pack antihistamines
Record Store Day 2017
As per usual, RSD will see a number of FOMO-inducing releases hitting dusty shelves, particulary being the 10th Anniversay. These range from celebrations of the legends we lost in the past year - Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, among others, as well as a notable selection of 2000s bands dropping re-issues (or the first time ever printed on vinyl) - from Marcy Playground to The Goo Goo Dolls and Air.
There's also some RSD-exclusive drops from Andre 3000, Spoon, The War On Drugs, Run The Jewels, Animal Collective, The Head and the Heart, Iron and Wine, The Black Angels, Danny Brown, The Cure, Madonna, Marianne Faithfull, The Doors, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Smiths, Sting performing at the Bataclan and a bunch of release for the kiddies - including a Thomas & Friends release, A Johnny Cash children's album and, for the adults, Stories for Ways and Means, a "literary mixtape" of stories written by Nick Cave, The Kills' Alison Mosshart, Jim James and more, narrated by Zach Galifanakis, Danny Devito Nick Offerman, King Krule and more. This year's side-by-side 7" releases see A-B flips with Tegan and Sara/The Regrettes, Talking Heads/Wildling and The Flamin' Groovies/Dylan Gardner and more.
Of course, there's a Fleetwood Mac AND a Paul McCartney release in there, which proves my theory that you actually cannot avoid either in any record store.
Read the full list in its nine-page glory here if you so desire and head to recordstoreday.com.au to check out what's happening at your local independent vinyl pusher.
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Buro 24/7 Selection