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Give ‘Em a Spin: The Second Disc’s Essential Back to Black Friday 2013 Release Guide

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Another year…another Black Friday. Yes, it’s that time of year again in which consumers start off the holiday shopping season on a mad, frenetic note. This year is another one in which numerous big-box retailers in the U.S. have made headlines by blackening Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day itself, by sales starting on the holiday. So many might give thanks that the folks behind Record Store Day are waiting until the traditional Friday to release their twice-yearly slate of exclusive releases.

As usual, many top artists are represented, from Bob Dylan to U2, with titles aimed coming from both the new and catalogue ends of the spectrum. With that in mind, Mike and I have once again selected our picks for the crème de la crème of titles being released this Friday. Don’t hesitate to head over and drop by your local independent record store, and don’t fear the crowds. With everybody at the mall, the Black Friday RSD event is usually a bit more manageable than the April festivities. You can find a full list of RSD Back to Black Friday exclusives (and a list of participating shops) here.

Without further ado, we’ll kick things off with five of Joe’s favorite slabs of vinyl due on Friday…

Nilsson Sessions LPNilsson, Sessions 1967-1975: Rarities from the RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Legacy)

Let’s go ahead and say it: 2013 has been The Year of Nilsson. Legacy’s well-curated sampler The Essential Nilsson whetted appetites for its crown jewel box set The RCA Albums Collection, and that landmark collection was followed by the first-ever CD reissue of Flash Harry on Varese Vintage. Now, Legacy caps off this yearlong celebration with the 180-gram vinyl release of a Nilsson album that never was. Sessions 1967-1975, adorned with Steve Stanley’s wonderful original artwork created for the box set, features twelve of the best Nilsson tracks you might not have known – and won’t soon forget. An alternate of “One” (“…is the loneliest number you’ll ever know”) and a demo of “Coconut” sit alongside John Lennon’s “Isolation” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Marry Me a Little” on this remarkable distillation of a singular musical life. To vinyl collectors who already own the box, Sessions is a fine complement. To those who don’t…you’re in for a treat. Doctor’s Orders: Put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning.

Van Dyke Parks - Come to the Sunshine

Van Dyke Parks, “Come to the Sunshine” b/w “Farther Along” 7-inch single (Sundazed)

Musical iconoclast (and close pal and collaborator of Harry Nilsson) Van Dyke Parks returns with a replica 45 of his 1966 single, originally on the MGM label. “Come to the Sunshine” has proved a rallying cry for the sunshine pop genre, covered by artists including Harpers Bizarre – who included it as the very first track on their debut album. One part jazz, one part vaudeville, one part psychedelia and all- infectious, the intricately arranged “Come to the Sunshine” is packaged by the Sundazed crew in a new sleeve with a period photo of Parks and new liner notes from California pop historian Domenic Priore.

Percy Dovetonsils Christmas

Ernie Kovacs, A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas (Omnivore)

Omnivore has our candidate for the wackiest release of the Christmas season – or is that the Christmath theathon? Yes, everyone’s favorite lisping poet is back. And if Ernie Kovacs’ kooky creation isn’t your favorite lisping poet, he might well be once you take a chance on A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas. “The Night Before Christmas on New York’s Fashionable East Side” is a most unique Christmas Eve tale, and it’s joined on this festive vinyl 10-inch picture disc by five more of Dovetonsils’ rather refined poems. Grab your smoking jacket (zebra pattern not required) and your glasses (painted-on eyeballs optional, as well) and rest in your easy chair with some of the strangest – and most strangely enjoyable – odes you’ll hear this holiday season.

The Doors - RSD

The Doors, Curated by Record Store Day (Elektra/Rhino)

This 180-gram LP offers eight rare studio and live tracks from Jim, Ray, Robby and John including four mono mixes (“Break on Through,” “Soul Kitchen,” “Moonlight Drive” and “When the Music’s Over”) plus the LP version of “Love Street,” “The Unknown Soldier” from the Hollywood Bowl in 1968, “Roadhouse Blues” from New York’s Felt Forum in 1970, and “Five to One” from Boston, also 1970. All tracks have been remastered by Bruce Botnick, and surviving Doors Robby Krieger and John Densmore have hand-written the track listing on the artwork.

Roy Orbison - Monument Vinyl

Roy Orbison, The Monument Vinyl Box (Legacy)

Here, then, is a Monumental 4-LP box for a Monumental artist. The Big O immortalized such heartbreakingly dramatic mini-operas as “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “Running Scared” and “Blue Bayou,” all of which you’ll hear on the first three LPs in this new vinyl box set: Lonely and Blue, Crying and In Dreams. The fourth LP is a wholly new creation: an Oh! Pretty Woman album featuring the title track, “Ooby Dooby,” “Claudette,” and other tracks handpicked by Orbison’s sons. This one will sure look great under the tree – wrapped in some pretty paper, of course.

After the jump: Mike selects his five picks for Back to Black Friday!

No Ordinary EPDuran Duran, No Ordinary EP (Parlophone/Rhino)

As someone who’s been covering catalogue music on The Second Disc for nearly four(!) years, one of my favorite aspects of Record Store Day titles is not only having another neat collectible to listen to, but what these releases might be hinting at or cross-selling. For instance, Legacy has two titles – the Uncle Tupelo and Nas singles – that are sort of opening up for a main event in 2014 (new deluxe editions of No Depression and Illmatic, respectively). So I’m certainly happy to get this cassette-only EP of Duran Duran kicking it acoustically on their 1993 comeback trail…but I’m also happy that, with a new owner in charge of the boys’ classic masters (Parlophone now being owned by Warner Music Group), we could be seeing some more catalogue activity. (Sure, all of the band’s ’80s albums have been given the deluxe treatment, but I’m confident we’ll see something new and cool in the next year or two.)

UnknownCheap Trick, The Classic Albums (Epic/Legacy)

“Can you honestly tell me that you forgot? Forgot the magnetism of Robin Zander, or the charisma of Rick Nielsen?” Fast Times At Ridgemont High‘s Mike Damone was easily the least likable character in the 1982 teen classic, but even he got at least one thing right. This box looks to get it right, too, collecting newly-remastered versions of Cheap TrickIn ColorHeaven TonightAt Budokan and Dream Police – which, I might remind you, were recorded by Rockford’s finest in a two-year period. And I’m sure we can expect great replica packaging, down to the full-color insert inside At Budokan, to go with these great albums.

John Denver Muppets Picture DiscJohn Denver & The Muppets, A Christmas Together (Picture Disc) (Windstar)

The sweet holiday tradition of the late, great Denver mixing it up with Jim Henson’s lovable Muppet gang has, thankfully, come back into print in recent years after a lengthy absence (who still has their old Laserlight Digital CD pressings?). And as gimmicky as some of us might find picture vinyl, I’m as ready as anyone to laugh along with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and all the rest on fresh-pressed wax – not to mention those emotions when they all join in on “Where the River Meets the Sea.”

Ten Big StiffsVarious Artists, Ten Big Stiffs (Stiff Records/Razor & Tie)

I’ve been waiting to see what Razor & Tie’s licensing of the Stiff catalogue is going to mean for stateside listeners, and this looks to be among the first concrete proof. With one of my favorite pop songs enclosed herein (Tracey Ullman’s “They Don’t Know”), plus great sides from Kirsty MacColl, The Plasmatics and more (including a Mint Juleps 45 that was mistakenly never released), this set (as would befit the label) looks certainly worth a f***.

PAX AM DaysFall Out Boy, PAX AM Days (PAX AM/Island)

Fall Out Boy’s Save Rock and Roll was one of my favorite albums this year, in which the reformed Illinois quartet presented another clutch of soulful, singable, heart-on-sleeve pop-rock anthems – a perfect continuation of their major-label evolution since 2005’s Under the Cork Tree. Their next step is wildly intriguing: cutting a 13-minute EP of decidedly unpolished punk cuts with producer Ryan Adams. It’s been available for awhile digitally, but I’d like to hear Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley cutting through my turntable speakers with this double 7″ set.

9 Responses

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  1. I don’t care much about vinyl fetishism, and I reckon the unavailability of the more desired titles to many consumers (plus the inevitable eBay gouging) are actually hurting record stores in the long run. A lot of this stuff is cool – I’m all for upping attention for Van Dyke Parks, and that’s a great single – but the Stiff box is lazy. It’s pretty clear that they’ve lost a lot of the best parts of their catalog, and thematically this selection it doesn’t make much sense. Stiff sort of lost its identity after the first couple of years, when there wasn’t as much irreverence or subversion as there’d been earlier on. And despite some major artists (like the Pogues), they started playing it safe and faded into obscurity. (Compare Stiff to Rough Trade, who got far, far less attention in America in the late 70s / early 80s, but has ended up with a discography now universally seen as classic.)

    That said, I’ve got to know: how is it that a 45 is “mistakenly” never released?


    November 27, 2013 at 16:59

    • Stiff Records were a pub rock label nothing more, who just got lucky with some very good artists early on. Then as usual it all went wrong…


      November 27, 2013 at 18:20

  2. “A pub rock label” is a pretty fair description. And not even the prime pub rock label (that’d be Chiswick, with the Count Bishops, 101ers, Hammersmith Gorillas and many other underrated combos.) Stiff occasionally dabbled in other things, but this was always pretty clearly “dabbling,” and even some early exceptions to the pub rock standard of the label were forays into more adventuresome stuff never followed up (like the Richard Hell or Adverts singles) or “punk” bands who owed a lot to pub rock in that they were pretty straight ahead rock & roll when you get right down to it – the Damned being a pretty good example of that.

    When pub rock was dead and buried, they sunk as a label, generally issuing artists whose works tended to be novelty – and here the list is long: Lene Lovich (gimmicky new wave), the Plasmatics (gimmick punk), the Untouchables (novelty ska) Tenpole Tudor, John Otway, Elmo & Patsy, Tracey Ullman and much of the rest. As novelty acts, some were good, some awful, but stuff . . . novelty. Worthy bands like the Feelies or Devo didn’t last long on the label, and tended to be marketed as if they were nothing more than zany oddball bands, not th ground-breaking acts they were.

    Stiff did manage to hang on to three artists over the course of the best part of their careers – Ian Dury, Madness and the Pogues. They got very lucky with Kirsty MacColl.

    But leafing through their 200+ singles catalog today, it’s surprising to see how little of the label’s output holds up. In 1981 (just to pick a random year) it would have surprised many music fans to think that a well-publicized indie label (with actual chart hits!) would be forgotten and your Postcards and Rough Trades and 4ADs and Mutes would still be wildly discussed and influential.

    The tale of Stiff is the story of major labels in a microcosm; ignore innovation and development and risk-taking and you may be successful today . . . but in the long run, if you take Stiff’s approach (to turn their infamous motto upside down) it won’t be worth a fuck.


    November 28, 2013 at 00:39

  3. John….sounds like you have an axe to grind. If Stiff hadn’t married Elvis Costello with Nick Lowe for “Less Than Zero” and at least the following 12 months of output, my life would be very different. As would many others I know. Come on, John, take a deep breath…relax. Happy Holidays.

    Sean Anglum

    November 29, 2013 at 18:03

  4. I am not into this vinyl renaissance either, but it is good for the brick and mortar Record Stores so bring it on. Hey, a couple years ago who would have predicted a brand new full catalog record store opening in NYC? We now have Rough Trade opening soon, if they aren’t open already. More power to them. I would love to see them so successful that they open stores in other major cities in the U.S. like LA, Seattle, Chicago, Miami etc. As for today, the only vinyl title that I was interested in was the Vince Guraldi 7″. I got it so I am happy. Happy Holidays to all!


    November 29, 2013 at 21:16

  5. I still don’t understand how the audio of the Muppets & John Denver continues to be issued, but the video is (as far as I know) not available or ever shown. Legally, that is.


    November 30, 2013 at 11:44

  6. RE: Duran Duran’s EP–cassette only? Are you talking the original issue? I saw vinyl copies this weekend.


    November 30, 2013 at 13:30

  7. Loved the The Doors RSD Exclusive.. The sound stopped me in my tracks a few times (no pun intended) This is one of the best RSD releases ever in my view.

    Chris C.

    December 2, 2013 at 18:14

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