Although Record Store Day’s annual Black Friday offshoot edition is still more than two months away, no time is being wasted in getting the official lineup of 150 exclusive titles out for public consumption and appetite-whetting.
The Nov. 26 roster of mostly vinyl releases — with the odd CD and cassette thrown in for egalitarian measure — includes limited-edition albums, EPs or singles by artists as varied as Billie Eilish, Jason Isbell, Aerosmith, Trippie Redd, U2, Black Pumas, John Legend, Jimi Hendrix, Lana Del Rey, Fleetwood Mac, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Mobb Deep, Leonard Cohen, the Jerry Garcia Band, Tank and the Bangas, Motorhead, Bill Evans and Blackberry Smoke.
Record Store Day organizers are cautioning this year that it’s possible a few of the titles being announced today could fall out, due to severe backlogs at vinyl manufacturing plants. A few releases planned for Black Friday are also being held back from this lineup so the artists can announce them themselves.
The Black Friday edition of RSD is a smaller cousin to the traditional April event (which, since the pandemic began early last year, has been broken up into sequential “RSD Drops” events to keep crowds down), where 400 titles might jockey for customers’ attention at independent stores. But the Black Friday lineups are rarely any less long than those in the spring, even with Macy’s for day-after-Thanksgiving pre-dawn lineup competition.
The full (for now) lineup of titles can be found on the RSD website here, along with a list of participating indie stores. But we’ve culled some highlights from the roster, with brief descriptions and quantities, where available.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Georgia Blue” (12,000 copies)
Isbell announced an October digital release for this benefit album earlier in the day, but the physical release will be an RSD vinyl exclusive the following month. On Nov 5, 2020, Isbell tweeted, “If Biden wins Georgia I’m gonna make a charity covers album of my favorite Georgia songs- REM, Gladys Knight, Vic Chesnutt, Allmans, Cat Power, Precious Bryant, Now It’s Overhead, etc… And damn is that gonna be fun.” We’ve heard it, and it is. Guest lead vocalists include Brandi Carlile, Julien Baker, Amanda Shires and Adia Victoria, covering artists ranging from James Brown and Gladys Knight & the Pips to R.E.M. to Cat Power.
Billie Eilish, “No Time to Die” (15,000 copies)
Her 7-inch single includes two previously unreleased versions of her James Bond theme — one being a demo version, and other other live from the Brit Awards. Although it’s just a single, the inside sleeve includes photos, a lyric sheet and even sheet music.
Aerosmith, “1971: The Road Starts here” (10,000 copies on vinyl, 2,000 on cassette)
They were just dreamers when the Boston band gathered in a rehearsal room in 1971 and Joe Perry’s tape record was turned on. This seven-track release includes raw early versions of familiar songs Aerosmith recorded two years before their Columbia deal, including “Dream On” and “Mama Kin” in their roughest form.
Charlie Parker, “Bird in L.A.” (2,500 copies on vinyl, 5,000 on CD)
A total of 29 previously unreleased recordings from the jazz great’s sojourns to California in 1948-52, from club dates to a TV appearance with Dizzy Gillespie to a Shrine “Jazz at the Philharmonic show, are included on a new collection available as a 4-LP or 2-CD set.
Lana Del Rey, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” (15,000 copies)
Nothing unreleased here, but you get different cover art — which will satisfy a lot of fans who weren’t altogether pleased with the original ladies’-day-out group photo — on translucent cobalt vinyl.
“Blue Velvet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Deluxe Edition)” (3,000 copies)
Both score composer Angelo Badalamanti and director David Lynch are said to have been involved in this special edition, which has new liner notes, sound “directly off the unedited master tapes,” the addition of Bobby Vinton’s title song to the track listing for the first time in the soundtrack album’s history, marbled blue vinyl to match that opening curtain imagery, and original art from the Italian movie poster.
Blackberry Smoke, “Stoned” (2,500 copies)
Taking on a rarely utilized process of making an LP, the band went into the Welcome to 1979 studio on Nov. 6, 2020 and recorded, mixed and mastered this album live to a vinyl master, with each side representing one long, unbroken, un-overdubbed take that went directly to the lathe.
Trippie Redd, “A Love Letter To You 1 / A Love Letter To You 2” (4,000 copies)
This material from the rising hip-hop star has previously only been released physically prior to this LP exclusive, with rappers and their fans not having much use for CDs anymore. Redd’s first two mixtapes have been combined into a triple-LP set.
Fleetwood Mac, “Alternate Live” (6,000 copies)
Warner Records has a good tradition going of pulling songs from the bonus CDs in Fleetwood Mac’s album-by-album commemorative boxed sets to offer up “alternative” versions of their albums, usually consisting of demos or alternate takes. In the case of the group’s live album, the label has dug into the boxed set for their 1980s live album to put together a different 14-song, with the sequence, if not the actual content, exclusive to vinyl — including four songs from the “Rumours” tour, seven from the “Tusk” tour and three more from the “Mirage” era.
Oscar Peterson, “A Time For Love- The Oscar Peterson Quartet-Live In Helsinki, 1987” (1,800 copies)
A numbered limited edition on 180g translucent blue vinyl marks the first-time release of the final night of a 1986 European tour; outside of RSD, it’ll also be released, less exclusively, on CD and digital formats, but the limited quantity on LP will go fast.
Leonard Cohen, “Songs of Love & Hate (50th Anniversary)” (5,000 copies)
Cohen’s 1971 album hasn’t gotten quite the attention that a lot of rock records celebrating their 50th this year have, but an 180g white vinyl issue with embossed cover art and a new eight-page lyric booklet should help bring this landmark in the bard’s career to the anniversary party, too.
The Jim Carroll Band, “Catholic Boy (Deluxe)” (1,500 copies)
The poet’s brilliant 1980 debut as a rock ‘n’ roll band leader gets commemorated in a two-record set that includes a bonus LP of the group’s original 1978 demos, with a pair of unreleased songs. Artwork for the gatefold package was designed by original bass player by Stephen Linsley, and fresh liner notes and photographs are included.
Bobby Rush, “Chicken Heads 50th Anniversary” (1,500 copies)
The bluesman asked Gov’t Mule, Buddy Guy and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram to cut covers of his 50-year-old signature song, and threw in his own re-recording for good measure. The EP will get a digital release later, but this is the only way to celebrate the anniversary for now.
Various artists, “Americana Railroad” (3,500 copies)
A two-LP set offers what’s described as “new interpretations from the rich canon of songs about the rails and how the music and the railroad shaped America and its musical history,” from artists as estimable as John Fogerty, Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Carla Olson, Dom Flemons, James Intveld and Dustbowl Revival.
John Carpenter, “Ghosts Of Mars (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” (2,200 copies)
Carpenter cultists will take a special interest in this soundtrack from the horror-SF director/scorer. Technically, it’s been released on vinyl before, but we really do mean just technically; as legend has it, 500 copies were pressed in 2018 to be sold via a website, but “most of the product arrived heavily scuffed and/or warped, and only 200 pieces were sold before the album was permanently shelved because of the high level of defective albums.” Varese fully intends to have better quality control on this 20th anniversary edition, which’ll be on colored vinyl.
Sam Cooke, “The First Mile of the Way” (3,000 copies)
A three-record set — three 10-inch records, that is — celebrates Specialty Records’ 75th anniversary by collecting pop-leaning tracks he recorded for the label along with live recordings from a 1955 Shrine show in L.A. The triple-gatefold jacket includes replica flyers “and other ephemera” included as inserts. Although the tracks here have been previously released in different forms, they’ve never been gathered into an actual Cooke compilation, and some are making their vinyl debut.
Also on the docket: titles from Maxwell, Thundercat, Thelonious Monk, RZA, Broken Social Scene, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Ray Charles, Art Pepper, Puscifer, Carole King, the Gun Club, Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield, the Shangri-Las, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Spoon, Little Feat, Chet Baker, Sun Ra, LA Guns, Buck Owens, Ozzy Osbourne, the Jackson 5, Todd Rundgren, Tammi Terrell, k.d. lang, All Them Witches, Big Mama Thornton, Lera Lynn, Teddy Swims, Grant-Lee Phillips, Twiztid, Evanescence, Dire Straits, King’s X, Chuck Prophet, Dio, the Bee Gees, the combination of Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson and many more.
Soundtracks for “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,” “The Iron Giant,” “How To Train Your Dragon” and “Cherry” also make their way into the mix, along with a rare album from the cast of “The Munsters.”