Exclusive Top 30 Vinyl Albums from Cake, Built to Spill, The Ramones, Tame Impala, Dinosaur Jr., Velvet Underground, Devo
There were hundreds of official RSD limited edition vinyls released this year, and so it obviously took time to go through all of the vinyls, pick our favorites, listen to them, review them and organize this extensive report and playlist. Much of the RSD coverage has been fairly limited to a rehashing of top vinyl picks from staff and bloggers, and Jack White‘s history-making event.
Even though it was historic and exciting, as well as a brilliant promotional tactic, RSD14 wasn’t just about White’s ‘fastest-ever record release’, which conveniently for him, served as his official RSD limited edition vinyl release – the title track from his upcoming sophomore solo album, Lazaretto, set to drop in June. To learn more about the event, read our coverage of White’s record-setting release, listen to the track and watch a video clip of the actual event.
While “Lazaretto” may have received the most media and buzz, it’s not the only vinyl release this RSD sought after by vinyl lovers, collectors and music enthusiasts; in fact, not even close. One of the most popular releases for RSD14 has been Cake’s gorgeously-designed vinyl box set. Only 900 of the eight 12-inch, 175-gram colored vinyl LP sets were pressed. In addition to a live LP and a rarities and singles LP, the box set features six of the band’s studio albums, including classics like Comfort Eagle, Fashion Nugget and Prolonging The Magic.
This post features an extensive look into the top RSD14 vinyl singles and albums, and includes tracks that have only so far been released on vinyl, as well as tracks from dozens of the most popular RSD14 releases; RSD vinyl covers artwork, designs and packaging; RSD releases bidding on eBay; details of, and interesting stories behind, certain releases; and numbers and figures that clearly demonstrate the explosive popularity of RSD and vinyl releases.
That said, let’s browse more of the most popular and unique limited edition RSD vinyls, many of which are also our personal picks in the cafe. There’s so many worthy new vinyls, that we’ll never get to them all, but we will do our level best to present as many as we can in the coming days, including a post to be published very soon that looks at even more top rare, special and novelty vinyl releases, and what they’re going for on eBay.
This is our favorite Top 30 vinyl albums released on RSD that also include vinyls that were the most popular among record lovers and highest on the charts. Tomorrow, we’ll publish the top vinyl singles released exclusively on RSD, and still being sought out online by music lovers and record collectors.
Special: Record Store Day 2014 Spotify Playlist – In addition to the 20+ songs in this playlist, stream 60 songs representative of IRC’s top vinyl picks for RSD14.
The Cake box set is a great example of a collector’s item because no matter what digital does, it can never offer the beauty, uniqueness and intrigue of a vinyl physical release – specially crafted and designed, compelling album and other artwork, liner notes, black and colored vinyl, booklets and inserts, and other goodies. As the ante is upped – which Cake did this year – that means more labels and artists will have to come up with even more quality releases that push the envelope for vinyl quality, design, packaging, price and other goodies – considerations that many thought were a thing of the past due to digital, the Internet, CDs/DVDs. The success of RSD, and the overall resurgence of vinyl is largely being driven by young people who are demonstrating that is a promising as weto see more and more young people, especially, who appreciate the value of a limited edition exclusive release, and have something tangible that they paid for to hold in their hands, and show to friends, and as the years pass, to their children.
The Most Sought-After RSD Box Set: A Lesson in ‘Can You Have Your Cake And Eat It Too’?
As it turned out for many Cake fans, snagging a copy of the limited edition vinyl box set was more elusive than exclusive. Afterall, only 900 were pressed and distributed. We would not be surprised to see the box set re-emerge for Black Friday, when exclusive vinyls are also released. For disappointed Cake fans who actually went to their local indie record store (or to a number of indie stores in their area) on RSD to discover that the few copies the store had were purchased already, or that they did not receive any box sets at all, there is still the eBay option, but it’s going to cost. The mark-up from the original RSD price just goes to show how many people want this Cake box set.
Everyone knows that high demand for a limited supply drives up the price, but it’s safe to say that some Cake fans suffered a case of extreme sticker shock once they looked up the bid prices for the box set. In fact, for the past week, there have been ferocious bidding battles with closing prices ranging from $250 to $300, and Buy It Now prices starting at $300 and going up to $600 dollars, depending on condition and, of course, greed. The latter are playing basically a ‘hold-out’ and ‘wait-and-see’ game, realizing that eventually the other higher, non-bidding copies will sell and then they’ll be only his available, so that if he keeps resubmitting it just the same, some Cake fan who has to have it, and realizing they might miss the chance to get it (one-time limited edition of must 900) will take the plunge and pay the greedy guy the $500 or $600. Plus, there are surely a couple of savvy, and coy, scalp hoarders with editions of the Cake box set who have been watching the bidding of the past week before they even list their own copies online.
While Cake’s box set is the most expensive of all the RSD14 releases in ‘after hours’ selling by scalpers online, when calculated to determine the price per vinyl unit – it is not; White’s “Lazaretto,” with the B-side cover of Elvis Presley’s “Power of Love,” is the vinyl that really takes the cake, so to speak, with closing bids ranging from $150 to $225 for the past week on eBay, and ‘Buy It Now’ sellers asking between $400 to $600 – for a single 7-inch vinyl. Of course, the price is being mostly driven by the historic value of it, and will likely be re-sold again by others for even higher dollar amounts.
We would not be surprised at all if the label, Legacy Records, struck a deal to press another couple thousand of the Cake box sets to release on Black Friday (or ‘Record Store Day 2′ as some call it – even though that’s a misnomer) due to demand. With that, the following triple play from Cake features some of the band’s most popular, even cult-classic, songs – one each from a successive string of spectacular albums that the band released during a five-year span, from 1996 to 2001.
Top RSD Vinyl Albums According to SoundScan, Billboard and BuzzAngle
The numbers and sales of exclusive RSD vinyls have been coming in for the past week or so, and are unlike anything anyone has ever seen before, greatly exceeding even the most optimistic pre-RSD sales forecasts. In fact, because of RSD, vinyl albums sales hit a historic high for the week ending April 21st, with slightly more than 244,000 vinyl albums sold, the highest that Nielsen’s SoundScan has ever recorded since it began tracking album sales in 1991. The previous record of vinyl sales took place on December 23rd, 2012, when 172,000 vinyl LPs were sold – more evidence of the increasing popularity of vinyl albums.
According to SoundScan, and Border City Media’s BuzzAngle Music, the top-selling albums for the week were all RSD releases, with Tame Impala‘s Live Versions coming out at the top, followed by The Grateful Dead‘s new live album, Live at Hampton Coliseum, and Joy Division‘s reissue of their debut, An Ideal For Living (see below.) Live Versions includes great concert performances of tracks like “Endors Toi,” “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” and “Apocalypse Dreams,” among others.
Overall, indie record stores’ sales jumped by 646% overall from the previous week; vinyl sales increased 1,855% altogether, and by 2,042% at indie stores. Billboard charts were also dominated by RSD vinyl sales. In fact, “only three albums” of the 25 LP positions on Billboard’s Tastemakers‘ chart – which measures vinyl album sales at independent and small chain stores – for the week ending April 20th were not RSD releases.
“Endors Toi” – Tame Impala from Live Versions
That’s stunning: 22 of the hottest vinyl albums on Tastemakers‘ were RSD official releases, including Green Day‘s new album, Demolicious, capturing the top of the chart (more on that below); No. 5, the reissue of Life After Death by Notorious B.I.G.; No. 7, a reissue of American Beauty EP by Bruce Springsteen, with four previously unreleased tracks; No. 8, first-ever vinyl release of a live album, Hampton Coliseum, by The Grateful Dead; and at No 10., Live at Silver Platters by Jake Bugg.. In addition to classic rock artists, popular singer/songwriters and one of the most influential rappers ever, the other indie releases that made the Top 25 included
On Billboard’s Vinyl Albums chart for the week ending April 20th, RSD releases dominated the list (with the exception of Afghan Whigs’ new album, Do To The Beast) with Jimi Hendrix‘s Live At Monterey performance on vinyl ranking at No. 5; Tame Impala’s Live Versions at No. 7; Joy Divisions’ An Ideal For Living EP; The Flaming Lips’ 7 Skies H3 and the first-ever U.S. release of Meltdown With The Ramones EP. Childish Gambino‘s RSD release, Because The Internet, topped the Vinyl Albums‘ chart. Perhaps one of the aspects that drove the Gambino release to the top was its packaging and extras. The official RSD vinyl album came in metallic o-card sleeves and a 72-page booklet. The two LP discography includes “Crawl,” “Worldstar,” “The Worst Guys,” featuring Chance, and “The Party.”
According to Neilsen’s SoundScan, and BIllboard’s Tastemakers chart, the top-selling vinyl record on RSD was Green Day‘s Demolicious, which was also dropped simultaneously on a limited number of CDs and cassettes. The special edition, limited release, dropped by Reprise Records, presents 18 unreleased demo recordings by the band recorded from band sessions held at Jingletown Studios in Oakland in 2002. The album, which sold nearly 4,000 on RSD, 42% vinyl, and surprisingly, 42% on CD, while the other 16% were cassettes. The album itself will be available retail on May 19, but will not be the same physical configuration as the RSD release, which is currently bringing in between $35 to $45 on eBay. Demolicious contains one previously unreleased track – “State of Shock” – available to stream below.
“State of Shock” – Green Day from Demolicious
Additional evidence of the explosive popularity of Record Store Day, and vinyl releases, has been streaming in for the past 10 days from indie record store owners across the 50 states, with many proclaiming that their best sales day ever was on Saturday, April 19th, the day of Record Store Day 2014. In fact, sales of vinyl LPs alone increased from 244,000 for RSD 2013 to an impressive 369,000 this year – that’s the highest ever percentage increase of vinyl album sales in one week since Neilsen’s SoundScan started tracking vinyl album sales in 1991.
Vinyl Gold: Velvet Underground Reissue Last Album; Built To Spill Reissue Debut and The Ramones First-Ever U.S. Vinyl EP
The reissue of The Velvet Underground‘s accidental last album, Loaded, was pressed on pink, black and white splattered vinyl, and recorded from the 1970 Cotillion Records master tape. The album release spawned classic rock tracks like “Sweet Jane” and “Rock And Roll,” and is listed as No. 109 on Rolling Stone‘s ’500 Greatest Albums of All-Time.’
Did You Know?: The iconic founding member, singer/songwriter and guitarist, Lou Reed, decided to leave The Velvet Underground shortly before Loaded was released in 1970, truncating the run of one of the most influential American rock bands of the 1960s.
“Rock And Roll” – The Velvet Underground from Loaded (1970)
Practically indie gods in our book, and undeniably one of the most significant indie rock trailblazers, Built to Spill, have one of the most exciting releases of RSD14 – the first vinyl (12-inch) pressing of their classic 1993 debut album, Ultimate Alternative Wavers, with the awesome album cover portrait (above) that absolutely qualifies to be posted on the fun, and often hilarious, website, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com.
“Nowhere Nothin’ Fuckup” – Built to Spill from Ultimate Alternative Wavers (original release: Oct. 7th, 1993)
For the first time ever in the U.S., ironically enough – considering they’re a notorious New York band, Rhino released The Ramones’ rarity, Meltdown With The Ramones, which was pressed and distributed only in the U.K. in 1980 as a promotional sampler. Isn’t that crazy? The Ramones’ RSD EP, re-issued on 10-inch navy vinyl and limited to 3,000 copies, features songs like “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” and is currently going for about $25 to $35, on average, a pop on eBay.
“Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” – The Ramones from Meltdown With The Ramones
Another RSD vinyl album worth checking out is Visitors from Dinosaur Jr. The album is in part a tribute to the band’s go-to artist, Maura Jasper, who the band teamed up with from 1985 to 1990, during which time Jasper created the band’s official artwork, inspired by Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch and English anarchist Gee Vaucher.
The limited vinyl release features the band’s first four singles, and a bonus 7-inch vinyl of “Show Me The Way” with a B-side cover of The Byrds’ “Feel A Whole Lot Better.” The package includes an essay from Jasper and a booklet of unused artwork from those five years. Dinosaur Jr., who will also be featured in our Top Vinyl Singles post on Sunday, were tremendously influential in making ‘noise rock,’ popular, and in adding a harder edge, via heavily distorted, yet melodic, guitar riffs and feedback, to alternative and indie music in the late 1980′s, influencing countless numbers of amazing bands to follow in their footsteps during the ensuing decades, and up to the present time. “Little Fury Things,” the band’s second single released way back in 1987.
Reissues on Vinyl – Man Man, MGMT, Spoon, Bruce Springsteen and Husker Du
The San Francisco band, Man Man, saw the first vinyl release via the label, Ace Fu, of their spectacular 2004 debut album ,The Man in Blue Turban with a Face, and Austin‘s hometown indie favorites, Spoon, reissued the EP, Loveways, which was remastered and pressed to 12-inch limited edition vinyl for the first time. Plus, Bruce Springsteen dropped a vinyl reissue of his American Beauty EP with four previously unreleased songs.
“Zebra” – Man Man from The Man in Blue Turban with a Face
“Change My Life” – Spoon from Love Ways EP
“American Beauty” – Bruce Springsteen from American Beauty EP vinyl (with previously unreleased songs)
Rhino dropped a new grey vinyl of Husker Du‘s amazing 1986 album, Candy Apple Grey, the band’s fifth album, and their first major label debut, with Bob Mould and Grant Hart each contributing their own songs – in addition to their usual method of sharing songwriting duties – that reinforced the band’s evolution from mainly hardcore punk tracks to a decidedly more alternative rock sound at the very time that other bands were fueling the engine of popularity that would help make alternative rock a major new genre. The album does retain, however, their signature frenetic style and features plenty of acoustic guitar parts.
“Sorry Somehow” – Husker Du from Candy Apple Grey
RSD Vinyls of MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’ and The Flaming Lips’ Novelty Release
MGMT fans can now listen to the breakthrough album, Oracular Spectacular, like never before thanks to the release of the album as a 12-inch, 180-gram black vinyl pressing. Rather than including the already-heard-a-million-times studio version of “Kids,” the biggest song from the album, we decided to feature a terrific live version instead. In 2011, Oklahoma psych-punk-pop indie rock band, The Flaming Lips, well-known for their unconventional, even flamboyant, alternative music, recorded a 24 hour-long “song” called “7 Skies H3.” Initially, the band only sold a limited number of copies on vinyl, that came inside of a real human skill, for $5,000 a pop – obviously not something for the average Lips fan considering the price, and definitely not for the squeamish, considering the rather morbid delivery method. For RSD, the band cut the song to 50 minutes and sold “7 Skies H3″ as an exclusive RSD-only 10-inch vinyl single.
“Kids” (Live) – MGMT from Oracular Spectacular (2008)
“7 Skies H3″ – The Flaming Lips from RSD vinyl release – not a streaming link here; click through to listen to the 50-minute song on YouTube.
Excerpt – The RSD14 Playlist: What better way to represent the sounds of RSD14 than to assemble a streaming soundtrack of many of the best songs that appear on official Record Store Day 2014 releasesthere are a good number and one of the best ways to boil it down and represent After diligent research, and flipping through over one hundred of official Record Store Day releases, we created a Record Store Day 2014 Spotify Playlist for all to enjoy; the playlist is also embedded below and some tracks are presented separately.
Limited Edition Vinyls from Joy Division, Mudhoney, Drive-By-Truckers, Chvches, Cults
Die-hard Joy Division fans from New York to Tokyo pillaged record stores last weekend in attempt to get a limited edition 12-inch vinyl reissue of the band’s breakthrough 1978 debut album, An Ideal For Living, featuring remastered tracks like “No Love Lost” and “Warsaw.”
“No Love Lost” – Joy Division from An Ideal For Living
As fervent of fans as Jo Div’s following of both young and old fans in the present time, make no question about it that Mudhoney fans are also clamoring for copies of the limited 12-inch vinly, On Top, that captures the sonic magic of a rare concert the band held last year a the top of Seattle‘s most iconic landmark, the Space Needle, in celebration of the simultaneous 25th birthdays of the band, and their long-time label, Sub Pop (Happy Birthday to one of the best indie bands and indie labels ever!!). The live Mudhoney recording was produced by the famous Seattle radio station, KEXP; so, you know the sound quality will be superior.
“Who You Driving Now” (Live at Space Needle) – Mudhoney from On Top
Drive-By Truckers offer up a 10-inch vinyl, titled Dragon Pants EP, featuring B-sides and outtakes from the band’s new 2014 album, English Oceans. Songs include the EP title track, “Rock Solid,” and the puzzlingly, yet awesomely-named, “Trying To Be The Boss (On A Beaver Brown Budget).” Watch the band’s live performance on Record Store Day. Chvches pressed 2,000 copies of their popular Recover EP, featuring two new remixes of “Recover;” Cults drop a vinyl of their Upstairs at United EP with live recordings of “Were Before” and “You Know What I Mean.”
“Recover” (Travelogue Mix) – Chvches from Recover EP
“Were Before” – Cults from Upstairs at United EP
Live Concert Vinyl Releases Featuring Guitar Gods Jimmy Page with Black Crowes and Jimi Hendrix with the Experience
Speckled within the sleuth of freshly-minted, limited edition live recordings on vinyl for RSD14 is the rock and rolling blues jammin’ of the legendary Led Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page, and The Black Crowes live at the historic Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The album, Live at The Greek, was recorded from two sold-out shows at the venue. Page had asked The Crowes to be his back-up band for a mini-tour in 1999.
The Crowes, as this recording demonstrates, were a perfect match for playing Zeppelin songs, and Chris Robinson‘s soulful vocals a suitable pairing for Page’s heavily blues-oriented guitar sound, and part of what easily puts him on the list as one of the greatest rock guitarist of all time. that comes in three vinyl discs inked red, blue and clear with a gold sticker, and also has a number of copies bidding and for sale on eBay and other sites for between $45 and $120. One of the vinyls includes enhanced studio tracks and various multimedia files. For contractual reasons, however, the set does not include any Crowes’ songs, but that’s OK when you consider how amazing Page and the Crowes sounded those two nights in LA.
“What Is And What Will Never Be” (Led Zeppelin) – Jimmy Page with The Black Crowes from Live at The Greek (1999)
Live Vinyls from Devo, The Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers, Foals, The Pogues with Joe Strummer
In addition to Page and The Black Crowes, and Jimi Hendrix’s monumental Monterey performance, there were a bunch of other live vinyls dropped on RSD. In fact, Devo‘s Live at Max’s Kansas City: November 15, 1977 RSD vinyl release includes an introduction from Devo-head, Mr. Major Tom, aka, David Bowie. Next, Deadheads – who often have copies of dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of live shows of their idols – have a new double 12-inch vinyl set to seek out, featuring the live recording of The Grateful Dead‘s first-ever performance at the beautiful Hampton Coliseum in Virginia on May 4th, 1979. Highlights include “Truckin”, “Good Lovin’”, “Eyes of The World,” “Passenger,” and a dozen others. The concert opens with “Loser” and closes with “Around And Around.”
“Whip It” – Devo
“Eyes of The World” – The Grateful Dead
LCD Soundsystem, The Pogues and Joe Strummer, The Allman Brothers, Foals and Many Others
One of the biggest live vinyl ‘gets’ of RSD14 is the special four-disc vinyl box set from LCD Soundsystem’s The Long Goodbye (Live at Madison Square Garden farewell concert. Considering this limited edition vinyl set marks the end of an era for a band that has achieved respect among their peers, and more importantly, the adoration of millions of fans worldwide, it’s no surprise that it’s selling for between $150 to $175 on eBay.
“All My Friends” – LCD Soundsystem from The Long Goodbye (Live at Madison Square Garden
The Pogues‘ legendary 1991 concert at the London Forum with Joe Strummer, the former guitarist of one of rock music’s best-ever bands, The Clash, was released for the first time in the U.S. on RSD, and is a must-have for serious fans of The Pogues and The Clash.
Strummer was filling in during Shane MacGowan‘s hiatus from the band. Concert goers buzzed for days, weeks, and years afterwards, using words and phrases like historic, magical, amazing, best-ever, pinnacle moment, and so on. Now, anyone can listen to this famous concert on Live with Joe Strummer.
“London Calling” – The Pogues and Joe Strummer from Live with Joe Strummer
Other artists and bands with new live albums dropped on limited edition vinyl for RSD14 include The Allman Brothers (Beacon Theatre); Foals (Royal Albert Hall); The Civil Wars (Eddie’s Attic); Jake Bugg (Silver Platters); Medicine (Part Time Punks), and well as Tame Impala, Death Cab For Cute with Magik Magik Orchestra, Frightened Rabbit and the Dave Matthews Band.
Jimi Hendrix fans are still vying for copies of the newest vinyl of their hero, since it is a brand new, remastered vinyl reissue of a historic performance as well as some one of the most iconic moments in rock history all wrapped into one. Even though pretty much all of Jimi Hendrix‘s legendary, break-through performance at the historic 1967 Monterey Pop Festival in California was extensively recorded and filmed for the movie, and the live album that followed, someone at Legacy/Sony decided it would be a good idea to reissue the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s sizzling nine-track set, Live at Monterey, but with a little touch here and there, to make it more marketable. And while it is definitely proof-positive of the major labels increasingly taking up a larger share of RSD releases with simple reissues, the fact is that Live at Monterey offers fans the chance to get this piece of history on remastered vinyl, including fans who may have an older copy they want to replace (considering the album was first released 45 years ago). If you are a die-hard Hendrix fan – and there are easily millions of you – and must have this RSD vinyl release, there are a number of copies available on eBay going for between $25-$35.
The reissue is pressed on 180-gram black vinyl, re-mastered by renowned analog engineer, Bernie Grundman, and includes an essay from Mitch Mitchell, the original Jimi Hendrix Experience’s drummer. All 3,000 limited editions are numbered and include the original artwork. The stunning performance – which is also viewable, in various clips, on YouTube – of songs like “Foxy Lady,” the Dylan cover, “Like A Rolling Stone,” the riveting “Purple Haze,” and the epic tale of “Hey Joe,” are what made the Jimi Hendrix Experience an immediate rock sensation in the United States, an honor that remains fully in place 45 years later.
“Hey Joe” – Jimi Hendirx from
*In this one historic moment from a historic set, Hendrix plays the guitar with his teeth, and does it well.
Another star was made at the ’67 Monterey Pop Fest – Janis Joplin, and The Who’s explosive set propelled them to a higher tier of popularity in the U.S. due in part to the subsequent Monterey Pop Festival album and movie that came out in the ensuing months, on top of the sensational media coverage of the festival in newspapers across the nation. In fact, Monterey Pop is often considered the first major outdoor rock festival. In the video clip below, you can spot Joplin sitting alongside Mama Cats (Mamas and The Papas). But of course the meat and potatoes of the video is Hendrix and his band. At that time, no one had ever heard anything like it, another reason they were just a phenomenon. If you want to watch the full and original Live at Monterey film, it’s available for free streaming, and includes lots of great outtakes besides in addition to stellar footage of the historic performances that took place there.
Monterey achieved a lot of ‘firsts’ in rock and roll, and was a prelude to the youth generation’s musical, political and cultural revolution of the late 1960s. In fact, Live at Monterey is not only an amazing rockumentary, it is widely regarded as the first rockumentary ever – shot and released two years before the Academy Award-winning Woodstock film. If you want to see what the whole rock and roll, flower power and hippie revolution in California was about, no other film encapsulates that time period better than Monterey because it was right there archiving it as it happened. Two years later, in 1969, Woodstock, made headlines around the world, and made Hendrix even more famous, although he would pass away tragically a couple of months later.
“Purple Haze” (Live, Monterey, 1967) – Jimi Hendrix from Live at Monterey
Did You Know? The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 was only the band’s second gig in the United States (and yet it remains of the most historic of all live performances in the history of rock music). Also, Hendrix, a left-hander, played a right-handed by placing strings in opposite order, and he earned his early dues playing backup guitar for the likes of Little Richard and B.B. King.
The British Invasion: 50 Years Later – The Animals, The Zombies, The Stones and The Yardbirds
There are die-hard music fans in their 50′s, 60′s and 70′s who probably have a hard time comprehending, while doing so with great memories of yesteryear, that the world-changing British Invasion – that brought us The Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and many, many others – made landfall on the shores of America 50 years ago, in 1964. The British Invasion brought a wave of new bands and music from England that would change America, not just popular music, forever. It all pretty much started with The Beatles’ historic performance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, an event that was viewed by 1 out of every 3 Americans at the time.
Unless we missed it somewhere, we were surprised that record labels did not think about releasing compilations of exclusive vinyl releases featuring a compendium of the top hits from British Invasion bands for the 50th anniversary. After seeing the success of the latest Record Store Day, there has to be a record label executive somewhere kicking himself/herself in the ass for not playing up the 50th anniversary of the invasion on RSD. Talk about missed opportunities, especially considering all of the bitching record label execs have done over the years about lost record sales – seriously: helloooo. It just goes to show that labels these days really do not understand the culture and the marketplace – people are hungary for anything but the crap that is played on Top 40 radio over and over again.
Some of the big groups that came over in the original, and subsequent waves, of the British Invasion – The Animals, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, and The Zombies – dropped special vinyls on RSD, and most can still be acquired online, usually for a higher price than the original RSD price (which is the case with just about every RSD vinyl now for sale on sites like eBay).
For admirers of mid and late-60s blues-driven rock by The Animals, headed by frontman, Eric Burdon, the band celebrates its 50th anniversary of breaking through in the U.S. with the reissue of The Animals’ 1964 self-titled debut British EP, featuring the hit single, “Boom Boom,” which was never officially released in the States until now. “Boom Boom” is a cover of the original Johnny Lee Hooker. Many of the bands from the British Invasion were heavily influenced by American rhythm and blues musicians like Hooker, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and others, who were really the the musicians who founded rock and roll, not Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly.
Anyways, if The Animals’ version of “Boom Boom” sounds familiar to you, and you think you’ve heard it sometime in the past couple of years, it’s possible you recognize it from the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. The song boomed from the loudspeakers during the scene when the helicopters were approaching the island were Bond first met his nemesis.
“Boom Boom” – The Animals from The Animals EP (1964)
For fans of The Zombies, RSD offered a couple of special treats. First, the band’s 1967 album, I Love You, pressed on a 12-inch vinyl, was released on April 19th for the first time in the United States. Previously, it was only available, not just on vinyl, but at all, in Japan and Europe. Another RSD by The Zombies, the band’s classic 1966 album, Odessey and Oracle, was reissued on RSD14 on 12-inch vinyl, including the mega-hit, “Time of the Season,” easily one of the most recognizable songs of the classic rock era, and a track that just never gets old.
“Time of The Season” – The Zombies from Odessey and Oracle
Next, the legendary Rolling Stones, who actually celebrated their 50 years as a band in 2013, were still part of the initial 1964 British Invasion, so the fact that they did not go all out and do something really cool for the half of a century mark on American radio and millions of young people’s turntables, seems a bit odd to us, if nothing less than a missed opportunity for their fans. Rather, the band quietly released a reissue vinyl of their second British EP, Got Live If You Want It, which marks the first time the EP has been fully released on vinyl in the U.S.
The live EP, recorded during March of 1965, chronicles the band’s fifth British tour, playing to sold out, and sometimes, hysterical, mobs of amped up teenagers in Manchester, London, and Liverpool. This EP is the third and final of a series of live Rolling Stones’ performances released by ABKCO; for RSD13, the EP, Live By Live, was released exclusively to indie shops. This final EP of the series includes songs like “Every Needs Somebody To Love;” “Route 66,” “I’m Moving On” and “Pain in My Heart.” Check out this live video of “I’m Alright” circa 1965 – the video quality is amazing considering it was nearly 50 years ago, and the historical value to the story of rock and roll from that time cannot be overstated – not to mention the fact that it’s probably one of the best early Stones’ live video footage available anywhere.
Then there is the most strange and unavoidable aspect of the video – can you guess before you read the next sentence? Yes, the screaming girls. What is that all about? Has anyone ever figured it out? No matter how many times most people see footage of the ubiquitous mobs of screaming girls from rock shows between 1964 to 1966, it’s always baffling, strange, other worldly, and even alarming. No wonder the adults at that time were worried about these girls and the media, dumbfounded and unable to explain such behavior, went with ‘mania,’ like Beatlemania – although no one ever said Stones-mania or Kinks-mania. It remains a sociological, psychological and cultural phenomenon to this day, as far as we can tell without dedicating real time to researching it – maybe a post for another time.
The Rolling Stones did not hit it really big like The Beatles did until about the time that Beatlemania – circa 1968 – began to lose some of its previous unrelenting steam, and the Stones obviously went on to become one of the biggest rock and roll bands ever, thanks largely to a string of mind-bogglingly superb rock albums dropped between 1968 and 1978, and sold out worldwide arena and stadium concerts every time.
“Pain In My Heart” – The Rolling Stones
Rhino Releases Psychedelic Vinyl of The Yardbirds’ Last Studio LP, Little Games
Although they did not arrive in ’64, they were still part of the British Invasion of bands from England that changed rock and roll forever, not just in their homeland and the U.S., but around the world, and to this day. That is, The Yardbirds. The band’s RSD14 release from Rhino Records is a 12-inch psychedelically-splattered vinyl reissue of their 1967 album, Little Games. Unlike the band’s previous three albums, Little Games did not produce a hit single, and is largely considered the band’s least accomplished record; in fact, the closest the band came to a hit was a ranking of No. 45 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts for the track, “Ha Ha Said The Clown” – but listening to the song, even the band’s most ardent fans may wonder how it made the Top 100 at all. As a whole, the album is a mess, and practically unlistenable; Page himself later called it “horrible,” while The New Rolling Stone Album Guide added that the LP was “a disastrous attempt at conventional pop.”
In 1992, the same year the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the album was remastered and reissued with new songs, mono and instrumental versions of existing songs, outtakes, demos and stereo mixes, tripling the original number of tracks from 10 to 32. The expanded edition featured perhaps the most stand out track – which is to say a lot – of this recording session, “Think About It,” which encapsulates the Jimmy Page lineup at its best, and demonstrates the signature guitar playing that would, just a couple of years later – and subsequently, forever more – make Page one of the most respected, and critically-acclaimed, guitarists in rock music history.
“Think About It” – The Yardbirds from Little Games (1992 Expanded Edition only)
It does make you wonder exactly why Rhino dropped this vinyl to begin with, especially since it does not include the expanded edition, which is actually the version that saves the session from total obscurity. The original version does include the notable, “White Summer,” an acoustic instrumental with Page on lead. In listening to the guitar work, it clearly foreshadows the acoustic style of guitar playing that Page became famous for later on. For all of its faults, Little Games, on vinyl and remastered, is a necessity for the most die-hard Yardbirds’ fans, and may even serve nicely as a good study in development of skill and style for guitarists who admire, and emulate, Page’s indisputable guitar wizardry.
“White Summer” (Instrumental) – The Yardbirds from Little Games (1967)
This was the only Yardbirds’ studio album (and the last altogether) that Page, who joined Led Zeppelin the following year, performed on before the band broke up. Previously, the group had two other rock guitar legends – Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, who had brief stints as well with The Yardbirds, but during those limited times, helped make The Yardbirds one of the best guitar bands – and posthumously you could say a ‘supergroup’ in the aggregate – of the time and even more so in the years since their disbanding. Of course credit also goes to rhythm guitarist/bassist, Chris Dreja; bassist and producer Paul Samwell-Smith; drummer Jim McCarty; and vocalist and harmonica player, Keith Reif.
Did You Know? Jimmy Page was a studio guitarist at the time The Yardbirds approached him to replace Eric Clapton, but he actually ended up playing bass before he teamed up with Jeff Beck as the second lead guitarist.
Legitimate Concerns About Record Store Day’s Wild Popularity and Success
While last week’s event is being reported as the most successful RSD since its inception in 2008, with a 35% jump in vinyl purchases, and RSD releases that invaded the traditionally Top 40 radio-leaning Billboard charts, there is also understandable, and valid, criticism, and concerns about RSD becoming too big, which naturally is posing challenges for RSD organizers, smaller indie labels and indie stores, especially with the major labels flooding RSD with more releases than ever before, and for some critics, many of the releases – remastered or repackaged singles, EPs, LPs, demos and live recordings particularly – are diluting the truly worthwhile and ‘value-added’ releases that are supposed to make RSD special.
While these issues require attention and robust debate, the fact is that labels and bands putting together limited edition vinyl releases with cool-designed colored vinyls, sleeves with album art, liner notes, booklets and inserts, and turning around and selling these special packages to willing, enthusiastic fans to purchase and to cherish can only be a good thing for music, in so many ways, for freedom.