Friday, April 18, 2014

Record store day celebrates happiest place on Earth

Disneyland may be considered the happiest place on Earth if you believe their advertising, but I realized recently that, for me at least, record stores may be the happiest place on Earth. Hence, Saturday April, 19 where lovers of vinyl records and the few mom and pop stores that house them celebrate Record Store Day.

Record Store Day has become a huge deal since its inception in 2008. Charlotte has three participating stores now according to the RSD website - Lunchbox, Repo. and the Wax Museum. Record Store Day is exclusively for independently owned stores, whereas Manifest is now owned by the same company as FYE.

So what's Record Store Day, anyway, you may wonder? It's the third Saturday in April designated to celebrate independently owned record stores with a slew of new releases on vinyl, cassette, and CD. The list is completely overwhelming with exclusive RSD releases, limited quantities, and releases that will be available at indie retailers for RSD first before making their way into chain stores and online retailers.

Go here for the full list of releases. They range from split 7 inch singles with well known bands like the Cure and Dinosaur Jr. playing the same song (in this case the Cure's "Just Like Heaven") to albums that were previously unavailable on vinyl like the Dresden Dolls' 2004 debut to special limited edition versions of albums in picture disc format or on exciting colored vinyl like Motorhead's latest "Aftershock" LP or Joan Jett's "Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth" on bubblegum pink vinyl, respectively. As you can see it's not just the young, hip kids getting in on this thing. Artists from all different genres on a variety of labels are putting out something.

Fans actually voted to have Doc Watson's 1966 album "Southbound" reissued on vinyl. Other more mainstream artists include NC's Eric Church, who is releasing his latest "Outsiders" on LP for RSD, and Kings of Leon, who pressed a yellow gold 7 inch single of "Wait For Me" in limited quantities for the event. Pop stars dig vinyl too. Katy Perry's "Prism" will be released as a picture disc and even One Direction has a 7 inch.

Despite my excitement over RSD, I've actually never gone inside a record store on record store day. On the first RSD in 2008 I drove all night from New York to try to make it to an RSD-related Steve Earle signing at Manifest. We didn't make it. Ever since then I've cruised passed Lunchbox Records on Central Ave. to scope out the line that leads to the street - a line I am not going to tackle with two small children. This year I'm going to try my favorite hometown store, Cheap Thrills, while visiting WV. My kids and I always stop in when we're in town anyway to browse the used vinyl and children's DVDs (a `80s Chipmunks movie has been on repeat ever since I picked it up last month). I'm hoping they'll have one of those Peanuts children's turntables, which Crosley is releasing for RSD. Lunchbox has already posted photos of theirs online, but I'm sure they'll be gone by the time I return.

I'm not sure what I'd be willing to stand in a line that long for (the line kind of takes the happiest place on Earth out of it) anyway, but R.E.M.'s "Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions" piqued my interest and I simply must hear Garbage's "Girls Talk" single with Brody Dalle. Ray Parker, Jr. clear 10 inch of "Ghostbusters" is also adorable for the kiddos and those with a big case of `80s nostalgia.

Like the Pixies "Indie Cindy" LP, those aforementioned releases will be available at other outlets as well later on. The logistics of the exclusives, limiteds, and the first releases is sort of mind boggling. Maybe that's why I normally stay away despite a love of record stores that was fostered when I spent four years working at Record Exchange at Cotswold and on East Blvd. Those were happy times and if I'd have known how collectible vinyl would become, I would've stocked up.

As a side note one of RSD's founders was actually my very first editor, Carrie Colliton, who edited The Record Exchange's "Music Monitor." Colliton set me up to interview Frente, Letters to Cleo's Kay Hanley, and Kristen Hersh and probably had more to do with my career path than she ever knew.