Record stores will not be dark on Black Friday this year — at least not the thousand-plus in the U.S. that have been participating in Record Store Day release events this fall and will do so again the day after Thanksgiving.
It will mark the fourth month in a row for a Record Store Day event, as August, September and October will have all seen “RSD Drops” days parceling out the more than 400 exclusive releases that had been scheduled to be released through the main annual event in April, before the pandemic forced a tri-part postponement.
The lineup announced for Black Friday is slightly trimmed down from last year’s, which might be expected, given the effects of shutdowns on the music industry. A total of 133 titles have been announced, versus 182 that came out for Black Friday 2019. But fans of any genre are still likely to find plenty to feast on from the post-holiday table.
For anyone who ever complained that Record Store Day is too strictly focused on LP exclusives, to the exclusion of customers who don’t own a turntable, there’s one interesting wrinkle in this year’s lineup. Pop Smoke’s huge posthumous release of this year, “Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon,” will be coming out in two formats for RSD — and neither is vinyl. It’ll be released in cassette format (2,000 copies) and as a double-CD (5,000 copies). That Pop Smoke’s album has not already come out in any physical format — even CD — will be surprising only to those who don’t follow trends in physical media, as most new hip-hop releases now come out only digitally.
The Weeknd just had a quick sellout on the September RSD “drop” date with the first vinyl release of his “My Beautiful Melancholy” EP, and he’ll return on Black Friday with another EP release that’s certain to move quickly, “After Hours (The Remixes),” with 5,000 copies pressed.
The Weeknd is not the only participant in one of the recent “drops” who will have a quick sequel in stores on Black Friday. A boxed set of John Prine’s initial 1970s Atlantic albums proved to be one of the hardest-to-find items on the September drop date. Come November 27, it’ll be followed up by “The Asylum Albums,” a three-record set, a pressing of a mere 2,000 just like its predecessor.
U2 is heavily into commemorating the 40th anniversary of its first album, “Boy.” In September, that entailed releasing an EP of singles and live material from 1980, but Black Friday will bring the whole enchilada, as “Boy” gets a 40-year edition on white vinyl, with 10,000 copies available.
Among artists who didn’t just already have a Record Store Day release out, Aimee Mann may stand most prominent, with a deluxe vinyl edition of her most popular album, the 20-year-old “Bachelor No. 2,” which includes some selections made famous by the movie “Magnolia.” It was previously only available on LP as an expensive and very hard to find Mobile Fidelity edition. (The median price for resale copies on Discogs: $187.44.) This new two-LP version includes several bonus tracks, extensive liner notes and a new cover, and, with only 5,000 copies available after years of demand, “Bachelor” will not lack for suitors.
The classic album that is being released in the most surprisingly limited quantities is the Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed (Collectors Edition),” with only 900 available, in a release postponed from RSD’s April berth. Closer inspection reveals some unusual reasons for such a limited pressing: “Each copy of this exclusive collector’s edition is handcrafted on the press, using layers of color on top of one another to create a truly unique edition. Due to the nature of the manual process to pour each color onto the press by hand, each piece is unique in design. Hand-numbered Certificate of Authenticity included.” Let the colors bleed? Pricing has not been announced for this edition, but it’s safe to say that its artisanal nature will make it one of the higher priced releases of the day, by a long shot.
Classic-rock fans never lack for choices on any RSD, and that holds true here with releases like a new David Gilmour single, “Yes I Have Ghosts,” with assists from his wife and daughter (5,000 copies); a Jerry Garcia Band four-LP live boxed set (4,000 copies); a new edition of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” single (7,000 copies); and Mick Fleetwood & Friends updating “Green Manalishi” in tribute to the late Peter Green (3,000 copies).
Previously unreleased live albums are an RSD staple, and foremost among them this year is Alanis Morissette’s “Live at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire,” almost certainly the only concert document in this lineup to actually have been recorded at a gig in 2020. More archival live sets are arriving from Lou Reed, Willie Nelson, Drive-by Truckers, Uncle Tupelo, Chuck Berry, Blue Oyster Cult and others.
Resonance Records, the perennial jazz king of Record Store Day, has no fewer than three freshly unearthed live albums by greats of the genre in the pipeline for Black Friday. Bill Evans, who’s been celebrated by Resonance like no other artist — and whose limited releases have gone for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market after selling out on RSD — will be represented again by “Live at Ronnie Scott’s (1968),” a two-LP set with a 4,000-copy pressing. On the other hand, Resonance has never had a release from saxophonist Sonny Rollins before, and the label will make up for that with “Rollins In Holland: The 1967 Studio & Live Recordings,” a three-LP set with 3,500 copies. Monty Alexander’s “Love You Madly: Live at Bubba’s” (1,200 copies) rounds out the trio.
Jazz releases aren’t strictly the province of Resonance; the day will also bring albums from Dave Brubeck (the timely “Christmas Lullabies”), Jon Batiste, Larry Coryell, the Herbie Hancock Trio, Bob James and Grover Washington Jr.
Got metal? Stores will, with Motorhead, Anthrax and Dio on the way. Beyond Pop Smoke, hip-hop is further represented by Lil Wayne, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Public Enemy, DMX and the Beastie Boys.
Although there’s nothing quite as “bring your daughter to Record Store Day”-oriented as the Justin Bieber release that came out a couple of years ago, there are a good number of releases that are less about bringing the dad-rock, from My Chemical Romance’s “Life on the Murder Scene” (7,500 copies) to the first-time vinyl issue of Lewis Capaldi’s “Divinely Inspired to a Hellish Extent” (2,000 copies).
For a complete list of titles, visit the RSD website here.