Record Store Day Exclusive Releases
Only available on Record Store Day at participating stores
Circa Survive/Sunny Day Real Estate
"Emo" wasn't always a pejorative for that kid working the counter at Baja Fresh with dyed black hair swept in front of his eyes.
Before the late '90s and early 2000s, it was just an adjective describing rock music with lyric content that earnestly described the writer's emotions without being sappy or ham-fisted. It applied just as much to poppier bands like The Cure as it did to hardcore acts like Lifetime. One of its greatest arbiters was Seattle's Sunny Day Real Estate, which wisely stopped recording in 2000 before the genre they helped establish was hijacked by Hot Topic and the Warped Tour and had every dollar squeezed from its oh-so-affected (and, eventually, incredibly sexist) corner of the music world.
With the coast clear and emo, pop-punk and just about every other bastardization having run its course, Sunny Day Real Estate is releasing this album's Lipton Witch as its first new song in 14 years. Along for the ride are prog rockers Circa Survive and their previously unreleased track Bad Heart. It's an odd matchup, but this disc would have sold just as well with a blank flipside. Only 2,500 copies of this burgundy-vinyl beauty are available, so watch out for fans expressing their long-suppressed emotions with a few elbows.
When some jackass decides to announce that metal is dead, Clutch is one of the bands routinely proving them dead wrong. Routinely as concerned with songwriting and concept as they are with deep, fuzzy, growling-but-groovy delivery, Clutch has outgrown its stoner rock roots and established itself as one of the genre's most influential savants.
They drop their new track Run, John Barleycorn, Run on Record Store Day, but also give their Weathermaker Music label's newest band Lionize a chance to show off its chops with their flipside track Ether Madness.
Ain't That Good News
Fifty years ago, in an incident that was never thoroughly investigated and riddled with inconsistencies that were never explained, the world lost one of soul music's first voices when Sam Cooke was gunned down by a Los Angeles hotel manager.
Ain't That Good News was released that same year and saw its strongest tracks -- including the anthem A Change Is Gonna Come that became not only a civil rights anthem, but the most earnest work of Cooke's career -- surge to greatness only after Cooke's death. Though Another Saturday Night is the dance-party hit that went on to become the album's most popular song, A Change Is Gonna Come showed Sam Cooke in transition from the bubbly Tonight Show performer of the late '50s and early '60s to the burdened, fiery soul singer who took the Harlem Square Club stage in Miami with King Curtis in 1963 and tore the roof off the place. Jackie Wilson and James Brown would show that kind of fire later, but Cooke was at the height of his powers when he was taken away.
If you can't get your hands on the original, this is well worth the investment.
The Cure/Dinosaur Jr.
Side By Side Series
In one of the better gimmicks Record Store Day has come up with, Rhino records is releasing 7-inch singles of song as performed by their original artist and as famously covered by another great act. Devo and The Flaming Lips share space for their versions of Devo's Gates Of Steel while Pantera and Portland-based hardcore band Poison Idea are paired for their versions of the latter's The Badge.
The gem of this year's Side By Side offerings, however, is a white 45 RPM version of Just Like Heaven featuring its original 1998 performance by The Cure and Dinosaur Jr.'s fuzzed out 1989 cover with the death-metal breakdown. That J. Mascis and company's version still holds up as Cure frontman Robert Smith's favorite cover of the song for both its passion and heavier sound should be all the endorsement this single requires.
Live At Max's Kansas City -- November 15, 1977
Before the hits made their way to MTV and before Mark Mothersbaugh provided the score of every film Hollywood threw at him, there was this little art rock band from Akron, Ohio, sitting backstage in the primary incubator for still-burgeoning New Wave music waiting for David Bowie to introduce them.
It's a tremendous artifact that Jackpot Records is releasing for the first time on vinyl and is even more noteworthy now that Bowie's bit has been restored. Since Devo fans are absolutely rabid and approach this band with an obsessive fervor befitting the group's geeky aesthetic, we hold no illusions of being able to pick up one of the 2,000 copies available worldwide with any ease.
Live At The Bitter End 1971
Before he was known to much of the U.S. as the guy on their dentist's office easy-listening radio station singing with Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway was a soul music force. In 1971, he not only hadn't done his parts on The Closer I Get To You and Where Is The Love with Flack, but was just starting to gain notoriety for songs like The Ghetto and Everything Is Everything.
When he's performing this set in that small club on Bleecker Street known more for who it launches than who's playing there at any particular day of the week, he's putting everything he has into his own fledgling work and into a whole bunch of covers. This is one of soul's masters just before he hits stride and, sadly, just eight years before his untimely death.
Life After Death
We don't like to quibble, but why not release a limited-edition copy of 1994's Ready To Die instead? It's 20 years later, it's cemented as one of the most influential hip-hop records of all time and it would come just as hip-hop is having a decent debate about whether its Golden Age was two decades ago, or is happening now.
But if you're going to release a triple album on clear vinyl, this is the one to go with. A bit overstuffed even in its original double-album form, this reissue is just a reminder that there's enough greatness on this to warrant three records. Forget the shiny-suit dance track Mo Money, Mo Problems, the million-dollar video for Hypnotize or 112's poorly aged harmonies on Sky's The Limit. Kick In The Door, Going Back To Cali and an early Jay-Z appearance on I Love the Dough are Hip-Hop 101 and some of Biggie's finest work.
It's been said that all of the best tracks from Life After Death's two-disc set would have made one great album. Even at three discs, it still holds up better than many of Biggie's late '90s contemporaries -- or Bad Boy Records labelmates, for that matter.
The Velvet Undeground
By the time this record was released by Cotillion Records in 1970, Lou Reed had already left the group for a solo career and its most popular tracks -- Sweet Jane and Rock & Roll -- were stuck in limbo. That hasn't prevented it from taking its place as one of the greatest albums of all time or foreshadowing the more mainstream side of Reed's solo efforts.
With Reed passing away last year, we kind of expected to see some of his work featured at this year's Record Store Day. We're still somewhat relieved that this pink, black and white splatter vinyl release is the extent of that tribute.