Record Store Day has become a big deal over the last few years, and I think it’s fair to say that 2014’s one-day event was the biggest in the events history, which was to be expected. I was speaking to somebody on the day who was saying that a few years ago, if a store opened at 8 and he showed up at 7:30 he’d still be able to pick up everything he wanted, because there’d hardly be a queue. We both started queuing around the same time, 6:15, and we both left slightly disappointed because of the amount of people who’d shown up, and limited releases selling out quickly as a result. Vinyl sales have grown rapidly recently and Record Store Day shows just how much the format still means, drawing in huge crowds. I contributed loosely last year, albeit a week later when I purchased a few things online, but this year I decided to involve myself a little more and I figured I’d write a bit about it.
I live in a town called Blackburn and although it’s a decent size there isn’t an out-and-out record store, and in fact there’s only one place in the town centre that sells music, and that’s a second-hand store. We had a HMV a few years back where I spent a lot of time, and bought all of my music really, but I was late to vinyl mainly because I was oblivious to it. Obviously, HMV don’t participate, but I’m trying to highlight how much Blackburn sucks musically. Because Blackburn sucks musically I had to journey elsewhere to find somewhere I could spend the early hours of yesterday morning and I opted for Action Records in Preston, a store I’ve visited a few times. If you live in the Lancashire area, or are passing through I’d recommend it, because I don’t think there’s anywhere else nearby that offers anywhere near as much, which is a shame.
After a silent and relaxing half hour bus ride from home I reached Action Records with 105 minutes to spare, and after initially queuing at the wrong end of the queue (I hadn’t fully woken up) I took my place and waited. I work part-time as a football steward so I’m used to standing in the cold and counting down the minutes so this was nothing new, although I wish I’d wrapped up a little more because thinking about it still makes me shiver. The queue was full of mixed characters, and I tried to guess what those in front of me would be picking up and if that’d screw me over, but it was tough to tell. A few places in front of me there was a group of around ten girls, one of whom had taken four trains to reach the store, waiting for the free 5 Seconds Of Summer cassette which the store handed out just after opening time, meaning their position in the queue didn’t really come into play. Each to their own in regards to their music taste, but I did find it strange that they’d made such an effort to get down (although credit to them for it) to pick up what was probably the least ‘typical’ release of the day. I bought a few cassettes last year as part of the less popular Cassette Store Day and I’ve listened to them rarely seeing as I don’t actually own a player anymore. Curiosity got the better of me and I did a quick eBay search just now to find that these cassettes are now selling for up to £40(!) – imagine that. Although I find it incredibly shitty to pick up a limited release and sell it immediately for a profit, mainly because it defeats the initial purpose, I kind of wish I’d picked one up. I missed out on a few of the releases I wanted and I eBayed these as well, and was more disappointed than disgusted. As great a concept as I find Record Store Day to be it’s a shame that dirty tactics are a bi-product, as they are with everything of this nature.
I visited Action Records a few months back and picked up five 12” records, and I did the same yesterday (I’ll list them and talk about them briefly below) and ended up spending £40 more, and this would be my second gripe with Record Store Day. The RSD label brings about a price hike, and I see why this could put people off. When I eventually made it into the store at around nine I passed a guy leaving with an entire box of LP’s – thirty at most – and I couldn’t help but think how much that’d cost him, as well as if he’d buy the same forty if they weren’t so exclusive. I admit myself that I was tempted to pick up a few records I wouldn’t normally – the live Between The Buried And Me record caught my eye. I somehow got caught up in it all, and it’s probably for the best that some of the records I wanted weren’t available.
Action Records handled the situation and the traffic exceptionally well and there was a good atmosphere to the whole thing that probably worked to their advantage. Prior to opening there were perhaps 100+ people queuing, which is a testament to how the format’s popularity has grown. I queued, I bought, and then I got the hell out, returning to the bus station for a hot chocolate and a flapjack, where I was asked by a guy around twenty years my senior what I’d picked up. In a strange way Record Store Day does bring people together, and from what I could see it definitely supported the stores it aims to. Although the increase in popularity does detract slightly from the occasion the store I visited was thriving, and overall it was an experience I’d do again – despite my grudges.
Slipknot – The Subliminal Verses Vol.3
Pressed on: Clear x2 Availability: N/A Price: £28
This is my favourite record from the band following Iowa and the first from them that I own on vinyl. This was my most expensive pick-up, and I’d say it was worth it. I listened to it yesterday afternoon as soon as I got home and it sounds great, albeit occasionally muddy. Featuring two of the bands most popular songs in Before I Forget and Duality this was a must have for myself, and I’m glad to have picked it up.
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Pressed on: Black 180g Availability: 1000(?) Price: £18
This has been available on vinyl for years, but I’ve never bothered to pick it up even though I love this record. I figured now was as good a time as any and the fact that it’s been remastered and pressed on 180g vinyl was two more reasons to buy it. I was tempted to pick up Congratulations as well, seeing as its undergone the same treatment but decided against it – that record never really appealed to me in the same way as its predecessor, although I did like their latest effort. I think the first half of Oracular Spectacular is the strongest as it includes the three singles, but as a whole it’s a good indie record to put on and space out to. It’s also cool that this press has a number to it, something I’m a sucker for, but apparently I’ve got copy 1010 even though I was told only 1000 had been released.
The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters
Pressed on: Black x2 Availability: 500 Price: £23
Scottish accents get a lot of stick, but they well complement incredible music. The Twilight Sad, alongside Frightened Rabbit and Biffy Clyro, put it to good use, and their debut is a record I hold very highly. That being said, I wasn’t actually aware this was RSD related until I saw a stocklist Saturday morning, but I was keen to pick it up when I did find out. I’m listening to it now, and even though it isn’t pressed on 180g it sounds brilliant, and it’s a record I’ll be spinning often. It also came with a second 12” full of demo recordings, which is cool, as well as a 46” x 46” poster of the artwork minus the text which is now on my wall.
Circles – Infinitas
Pressed on: Black x2 Availability: 500(?) Price: £18
I bought a few RSD releases last year, and Polymorphic Code by The Algorithm was one I bought a few months after from Amazon, not realising it had been released exclusively for that day. Basick Records did the same with Circles’ excellent debut this year and I jumped at the chance to own it, even though it’s the record I will probably listen to the least from this year’s selection. Like Polymorphic Code this album sounds ridiculously good, although for slightly different reasons.
Linkin Park / Jay-Z – Collision Course
Pressed on: Blue Availability: 2,500 Price: £15
This was the big one for me, and I was relieved to pick it up for a reasonable price without having to resort to eBay or Discogs. After the RSD variant of Hybrid Theory sold out so quickly I wasn’t sure I’d be able to grab this, which was released with 500 fewer copies. Thankfully I did, and I’m very happy with it. I expect it’ll get a repress, as Hybrid Theory did, although that won’t come with the DVD or be pressed on the colour that this version was, but should come as a comfort to those who missed out like I expected to. At six tracks there isn’t a whole lot to it, but I really like this record, which perfectly blends nu-metal and rap, and it’s the release that introduced me to Linkin Park in the first place after I heard Numb / Encore somewhere ten years ago following its initial release.