The snaking queues, like-minded collectors, the thrill of the chase and the chance to pick up a piece of rock and roll history. Welcome to Record Store Day. HRH Mag’s Editor In Chief and self-confessed vinyl nerd Simon Rushworth revels in the retro-fuelled celebration of a revivalist phenomenon.
Every spring, as regular as fluffy white lambs, dancing daffodils and the Easter Bunny, thousands of record buffs the world over assemble en masse in the quest for that most prized of collectibles: the limited edition vinyl. From New York to Newcastle and Los Angeles to Liverpool, music fans spanning the generations will rise as one and go into battle for a limited batch of coveted wax.
Conceived in 2007, an underground event recognising a much-loved audio format had a slow start. Fast forward 11 years and Record Store Day is embedded in 21stcentury pop culture – bringing together a melting pot of legendary artists, rising stars, limited edition pressings and exclusive live sets. Drawing in seasoned collectors and vinyl newbies alike, it’s delivered a record breaking boost to an industry that had looked dead on its knees just a decade earlier.
Visit any UK city still fortunate enough to boast an independent record shop on the morning of April 21 and you’ll spot it – the shopper. In this increasingly dull age of online consumerism and digital ownership it’s an absolute delight to see a breed brought to the brink of extinction back on the streets. A tribe with money in their pocket, smiles etched across their faces and bags to fill. A community for whom hourly delivery slots, click-and-collect and smartphone access is anathema.
Record Store Day is responsible for the long overdue revival of so many dying traditions but a glorious ability to resurrect the lost art of direct communication is, perhaps, its greatest triumph. Nothing beats paying cash over the counter to a real person. An individual with a degree of expertise who might actually pass comment on your choice of purchase and may even recommend revisiting the racks to seek out a complimentary disc. Collections were carefully curated on the back of such conversations and even at the height of Record Store Day’s often frenzied peak your friendly neighbourhood shop owner will find the time to talk vinyl.
Down the years Record Store Day has delivered a slew of genuine gems and last year’s haul is still enjoying regular rotation at HRH Mag HQ. The seven-inch version of Biters’ Stone Cold Love and Pearls – by Earache label mates Blackberry Smoke – get blasted out on the Wurlitzer every week. Elsewhere, the 12-inch reissue of the Def Leppard EP and the special edition of Marillion’s F**K Everyone And Run have kept the Rega turntable revolving with comforting regularity.
And talking of Rega – it’s not just the vinyl itself that takes centre stage every April. Turntables frequently make their presence felt and coming in at £265, Rega have unveiled their RSD 2018 special edition built around the high gloss acrylic skin plinth from the award winning Planar 2. Topped with a Rega/Record Store Day themed mat it’s the perfect piece of kit on which to debut this year’s biggest and best buys.
But one word of warning. Record Store Day is not the place for bargain hunters with the bulk of 2018’s top picks costing a pretty penny. If you like the sound of Linkin Park’s One More Light Live – released on sparkly gold vinyl and limited to 750 – then be prepared to cough up £34.99 for the double disc set. Perhaps the cassette-only (yes, the much-maligned tape has been welcomed into the RSD family) re-release of AC/DC’s Back In Black is a more palatable buy at just £9.99?
But if money’s no object then you’re a Record Store Day dream. This year’s list of exclusive releases and sought after rarities include a full range of rock and metal classics with Leppard’s Live From Abbey Road 12 inch (three tracks and limited to 1,000), Jethro Tull’s Maths (a 10-inch six-track mini LP), Mastodon’s Emperor Of The Sand picture disc (500 only) and a cover of Silver Machine on seven inch by Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons all worth snaking around the block for.
Other attractive picks include an exact replica of Kreator’s iconic 1897 Behind The Mirror – lovingly recreated as a 12-inch picture disc and limited to 500 copies this year. L7’s Fast And Frightening is released for the first time on vinyl across two heavyweight discs and if you really want to push the boat out then why not make a beeline for Jeff Buckley’s Live At Sine – the four LP numbered set is limited to 1,000 copies and features an exclusive booklet for a penny shy of £50.
Europe’s latest – Walk The Earth – is getting an RSD reissue as a 500-only picture disc and Whitesnake’s legendary 1987 will be available in a die cut sleeve. Metal heads might prefer a 12-inch picture disc version of Voivod’s Too Scared To Scream or Morbid Angel’s Kingdom Disdained – released on vinyl for the first time.
But Record Store Day is about so much more than filling your boots and loading your turntable. It’s about a community. A movement. And a recognition that the ‘cloud’ will never replicate that joyful experience of sliding out the inner sleeve, reaching in for the coloured vinyl and dropping the needle on that famous riff.
*For a list of participating Record Store Day 2018 retailers visit recordstoreday.co.uk