Record Store Day returns for the Black Friday blitz.
Here we go again.
Record Store Day is back for one last run through the crates in 2019.
Capitalizing on a year-over-year sales bump that has officially dethroned CDs as the leading circular music medium, RSD’s Black Friday installment offers first dibs on a broad range of limited and first-ever pressings. And while the list of exclusive titles is slightly slimmer than the previous plunge, there’s no shortage of must-cop pieces on the shelves this Friday. And, so, we’ve combed through the master list for selections that serve seasoned collectors and uncalloused civilians with equal care.
From fuzzed-out Hendrix-adjacent gems to brooding electric blues romps to soul-jazz royalty and well beyond, here are the acetates worth hawking this weekend. But, please, let’s be considerate in these trenches. In most cases, there’s plenty to go round. And a repressed grail will never be worth a booking/insurance claim.
Velvert Turner Group – Self-Titled LP
Anyone seeking a dose of heavy psychedelics and distortion can skip the call to their plug with this one. Remastered from the original analog tapes, the Hendrix disciple’s sole release is returning to wax for the first time since 1972 with a color pressing. Equal parts homage and innovation, Turner’s only catalog item tips a hat to his mentor with washed-out six-string suites and a voice that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Voodoo Chile’s growl.
Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe – Asalto Navideño
Ok, OK. I know what you’re thinking. A salsa-spun holiday album? Novelty vibes at best. But that take doesn’t quite factor in the levels of excellence exceeded by Colon and Levoe in this particular sector of Latin music. For its very first reissue, Craft Recordings dresses the album up in aptly-red, translucent vinyl, pressing recordings remastered from their original analog tapes. Don’t kid yourself into writing this one off. After all, the actual holidays are right around the corner.
James Brown – Live at Home With His Bad Self: The Aftershow
The fabled 1969 live show that was eventually edited down into The Godfather’s seminal Sex Machine is widely considered one of Brown’s most electric performances. But the aftershow set is a whole different beast. Featuring the funk icon’s hallmark stage antics, new mixes, and extended versions of beloved cuts from his extensive canon, this pressing marks the first-ever release of a legendary in-the-flesh display of Brown’s pre-mustache heroics, once thought to be lost for good.
The JBs – “More Mess On My Thing”
Should you need a companion to your Sex Machine outtakes, Now Again’s following-up the first-ever release of the lost JBs’ album with another unearthed rarity. This three-track 12″ pressing features the demo Bootsy and the soon-to-be-backbone of popular music recorded for James Brown, along with the complete and previously unreleased version of “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can.” Add a never-heard instrumental, unseen photos of the band, and a 22-page liner from Alan Leeds, and you’ve got what is by far this list’s most essential RSD score.
Prince – 1999: Remastered [Deluxe]
Though it’s not technically an RSD exclusive, I imagine it’s no accident the long-awaited remastered edition(s) of Prince’s 1999 shares a date with the crate-digging holiday. This absolutely massive excavation of The Purple One’s “Triple Threat” era outpouring gathers what seems like the full contents of the vault. But you’ll have to pick a tier of guilt. There’s, of course, the standard 2xLP remastered package, as well as a 4xLP “deluxe edition,” featuring unreleased edits and remixes. However, the “super deluxe” package is the one any fan north of casual should be circling. The towering $250, 10xLP boxset is the holy fucking grail, bar none. On top of the super edition’s edits, the most premium package features 23-previously unreleased songs, the complete audio from a 1982 tour stop in Detroit, and a bonus DVD with the complete footage from a show at the Houston Summit later that year.
It also happens to be the only item on this list currently available to pre-order.
Herbie Hancock – Directstep
Throughout his career — from Miles Davis sideman to leader of The Headhunters to BRAINFEEDER’s spirit manifest — Herbie Hancock has been eager to get his hands on whatever instrument or medium was in the pipeline. So when the “Direct-to-Disc” method resurged for audiophile recordings in the late-70s, Herbie was quick to assemble a team and cut a potent live session straight to wax. Originally released as a Japan-exclusive set, Directstep features three tracks, including a 15-minute-long version of “I Thought It Was You” which is just a boogie-blessed chef’s kiss.
Dr. John – Babylon
Out of press for nearly 40 years, the late Dr. John’s sophomore stunner is getting back in rotation for RSD. Recorded in 1968, the spiritual and symphonic seven-track album provides one of the earliest glimpses at the Nawlins star’s farthest-reaching experiments. And each pressing is furnished in an irreplicable “splatter” effect vinyl, every bit as singular as the artist’s kaleidoscopic afterglow.
Miles Davis – Early Minor: Rare Miles from The Complete ‘In a Silent Way’ Sessions
Damn-near any era of Miles is a good one to hone in on. But this particular phase, nestled between the cool architect’s sweetly-sobering In A Silent Mood sessions and those that would inform his groundbreaking Bitches Brew, is a rare snapshot of a jazz giant known to jump between styles and textures in a hurry. Limited to just 3,500 copies, blinking could cost you the bounty.
Czarface – The Odd Czar Against Us
By any set of metrics, Inspectah Deck, 7L, and Esoteric’s streak as Czarface has been a prolific one. In 2019 alone, the trio has released a pair of new albums, as well as the full instrumental suite to their collaborative album with Ghostface Killah. And now, in what could be a landmark Record Store Day play, the group is releasing their third album of the year as an RSD-exclusive, complete with colored vinyl and variant covers.
Tune-Yards – Sorry To Bother You: Original Score
A crucial component to Boots Riley’s surreal and critically-adored directorial debut, Tune-Yards skittering and experimental score for the film is finally getting the vinyl treatment it deserves. However, it should be noted for your consideration as the most limited run of RSD-exclusive pressings by far. So run, don’t walk, if you see it on the shelves. There probably won’t be another chance to cop (at least, in this decade.)