Record Store Day Black Friday’s Most Wanted: Billie Eilish, Aerosmith, Carole King, U2, Jason Isbell, the Cassette Comeback and More

The list of exclusives includes titles from Lana Del Rey, Miles Davis, Leonard Cohen, Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix, Iron Maiden, Little Feat, Local Natives and a hundred more.

vinyl albums

Record Store Day co-founder Carrie Colliton knows that Black Friday feels different this year — for the indie record stores that observe the “holiday” as an adjunct to the main RSD event in April, and the retail-consumer culture at large. “All the big boxes have been doing their sales for weeks,” she points out. “Dare I say, in America as a whole, maybe we’ve rounded a corner on Black Friday, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t know that it’s a day anymore.”

Unless you’re a vinyl enthusiast, that is. In that case. you’ve almost certainly got it circled on your calendar, and may even be thinking about winter layering, just like the folks who used to line up for plasma TVs. “You have time to get coffee and spend that time at the indie store,” she points out.

Not everyone who participates in RSD Black Friday will be lining up before stores open, of course. The release list, which is always already only about a third of what comes out for the main Record Store Day event in April, has been shortened even since its announcement by supply chain issues, so that now there are “only” about 125 exclusives coming out on Friday (mostly LPs, but a handful of CDs and cassettes, too). So this may be a more relaxed RSD-BF, for which most customers can afford to amble into their local brick-and-mortar outlet Friday afternoon or evening… or even wait till stores are allowed to put their stock up online, on Saturday morning. Still: If it’s a possibly under-pressed item like the “John Carpenter’s Ghost of Mars” soundtrack you’re especially needing, or you’re a jazz head who really has to have that very limited Oscar Peterson three-LP set, then by all means, grab a folding chair and go start a line as soon as you finish reading this article.

Colliton says that during the pandemic, “Stores did a wonderful job of figuring out ways for their customers to feel comfortable — either online or curbside or appointment shopping — and as we head back towards quote-unquote normal, there are a lot of stores who still are doing appointments, even though they technically don’t have to, and that is fantastic. But I think people on either side of the counter are a little bit excited about the idea of shopping for the holidays face-to-face, and having that moment of: ‘Oh man, I’m so psyched to buy this record. Thanks a lot for bringing it in.'”

What will customers be thankful to find the day after Thanksgiving? Variety checked in with Colliton — the director of marketing for the Department of Record Stores, a nationwide coalition of indie record shops — about some of this weekend’s most anticipated titles, with digressions on everything from the odd cassette renaissance to thwarting supply-chain issues. (You can scroll to the bottom for a list of what got delayed, as well as a complete rundown of everything that has been delivered to stores.)

For our selective guide to some of Record Store Day Black Friday 2021’s most wanted, we start with two previously unreleased recordings from 1971 that are finally seeing daylight 50 years later.

Aerosmith, “The Road Starts Hear: 1971” (10,000 copies on LP, 2,000 on cassette)
“Aerosmith is going to be a big deal — partially because it was recorded at a practice in Boston before they put out their first record, partially because it’s (also) on cassette. This is them before they were Aerosmith, playing this music and practicing, basically, and somebody hit record.” The fact that it was recorded on Joe Perry’s tape recorder and now is coming out on cassette — along with the much larger vinyl run — almost counts as the kind of analog-to-analog ideal that LP enthusiasts long for. “It had a few (digital) stops along the way,” Colliton laughs, “but pretty close, you know?”

Carole King, “Live in Concert: Live at the BBC, 1971” (6,550 copies)
“I’m personally excited about the Carole King,” Colliton says, “because it was recorded right around when ‘Tapestry’ came out, so it’s as close to a live version of ‘Tapestry’ at the time as you’re ever going to get. And she seems pretty timely right now,” with the 50th anniversary tributes and her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. The album includes seven of the 12 tracks from the biggest pop blockbuster of its era, along with, as a concluding eighth track, King’s rendition of an earlier smash she’d co-written, “Up on the Roof.”

Billie Eilish, “No Time to Die” single (15,000 copies)
The exclusive 7-inch includes two versions of Eilish’s presumably soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated Bond theme: a demo on one side and a live version from the Brit Awards on the flip. The artist has a history with RSD, most recently seen in the release of a “Live at Third Man” LP. “We had a previous 7-inch with Billie covering ‘Hotline Bling’ —  when people know her online but she was not worldwide superstar Billie Eilish — and now that’s a really sought-after piece. At the time, it was us doing what record stores do and introducing people to this artist that was coming up.  I’m not sure everyone really got it at the time, and now they sure do. And that’s another way that on certain days, we try and amplify what happens at a record store every day, which is be the place where you learn about new artists as well as discover old records that are new to you.”

“John Carpenter’s Ghost of Mars Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (2,200 copies)
Far be it from Variety to encourage the scourge of flipping… but if you were a flipper, this might be one to go for. For the film’s 20th anniversary, there’s a red vinyl — as in red planet — edition of a Carpenter-composed score that included contributions from such esteemed rock figures as Steve Vai, Elliot Eason, Buckethead, Robin Finck and several members of Anthrax. “Soundtracks have not slowed down in any way, shape or form” as being big RSD draws, says Colliton. Other scores coming for RSD include LPs for the animated films “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Iron Giant” (the latter a picture disc).

Lana Del Rey, “Chemtrails Over the Country Club” (15,000 copies)
Not everyone who loved “Chemtrails” loved the cover art, so an RSD variant with a different cover will be a draw. Says Colliton, “I  think the idea of Lana being on the list helps introduce a different set of fans to the world of record stores. And that’s one of our goals as well with Billie Eilish. And Clairo was on the list, but now it’s coming on Dec. 10 because of production or shipping issues. It’s important to keep artists like that in the mix so that people are coming to record stores through those artists.”

U2, “Gloria 40th Anniversary” (7,000 copies)
U2 is the one band that can be counted on to come up with an exclusive for pretty much all the semi-annual RSD events. Their release of a four-song “Gloria” EP “is very striking and lovely,” Colliton says. “This piece is the studio version of ‘Gloria,’ one of their most iconic songs, and then how they’ve done it live in three different decades. That’s a unique way to treat a single.”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Georgia Blue” (15,000 copies)
Isbell promised to do a record of Georgia-related cover versions if that state voted blue in the presidential election, and he made good on the vow. Although he recently released this collection digitally, the RSD release marks its physical bow. “That’s such a special piece for so many reasons, and Jason has been such a supporter of Record Store Day,” Colliton says. “I genuinely can imagine him thinking, ‘Okay, let’s do this project in a way that it can help indie record stores at the same time.’ I have confidence that that thought went through his head, and man, I appreciate him for everything he’s doing. Also, he’s hilarious on Twitter.”

Local Natives, “Music from the Pen Gala 1983” (1,500 copies on cassette only)
It’s a soundtrack to a very special episode of Apple TV’s “The Shrink Next Door.” which takes place in an ‘80s venue, so the producers got Local Natives to portray a cover band of the era, doing songs from the early ‘80s (by Roxy Music and Michael McDonald) and late ’70s (by 10cc and Gerry Rafferty). “So why wouldn’t you put that on a cassette?” Colliton asks of the tape-only release. “I mean, you don’t get more perfect than the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ cassette; that soundtrack had to come on cassette, because the cassette was practically a cast member. But this comes close. Local Natives doing ‘80s songs on cassette is just kind of chef’s-kiss perfect, I love things that get this meta.”

Leonard Cohen, “Songs of Love and Hate (50th Anniversary” (5,000 copies)
Miles Davis, “Live-Evil” (10,550 copies)
These two albums, marking their 50th birthdays, are fairly straightforward anniversary reissues, but with some wrinkles — Cohen is on white vinyl, Davis’s two-LP set a gorgeous teal blue; while Cohen’s comes with a full-sized lyric booklet, Davis’ has vintage label advertising that appeared on inner sleeves at the time, including Columbia Records’ shilling for their new 1971 line of quad releases. . “A lot of people kind of dog Record Store Day for all these reissue things and anniversary presses. But I think ultimately they’re important just for that reason, because you don’t want that music to die. You don’t want it to just be certain people who remember it,  somebody who was lucky enough to have a dad or an uncle or, at this point, God, a grandfather who has that collection laying around. It shouldn’t just be for those people, it should be for everyone.”

Lazy loaded image
Miles Davis’ ‘Live-Evil’ on blue vinyl for Record Store Day Chris Willman

Charlie Parker, “Bird in LA” (on LP and CD; no quantities given)
Oscar Peterson, “A Time for Love – The Oscar Peterson Quartet Live in Helsinki, 1987” (1,800 copies)
The Parker release, compiling material recorded in California in 1945-53boxed up as four LPs or two CDs, is “RSD First,” meaning it’s exclusive for now but may well be issued more extensively later. The 3-LP Peterson set is also in that category, though it’s coming out simultaneously as a digital download. In the absence of Resonance Records having any of its usual rare, live jazz recordings to add to the RSD mix this time, these releases and others — like a 4-LP vinyl issue of an Art Pepper boxed set previously out on CD — will more than fill the void.

“The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)” (no quantity given)
“This one was actually supposed to come out on a previous Record Store Day, but the number of raw orders from stores was just massive,” says Colliton. “So we worked with the label and asked if they could move it to this date, to increase the orders a little bit. It’s still going to be highly sought after, and probably still going to sell out. But it’s maybe one of the most popular pieces we’ve had in a while. … If you’ve got money to invest, invest in soundtracks. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon. I don’t personally always understand the fanaticism for any and all soundtracks, but as someone who hopes to keep record stores afloat and find things for them to sell to people, to make them happy, I am thrilled that they’re out there.”

Little Feat, “Electrif Lycanthrope: Live at Ultra-Sonic Studios, 1974” (5,000 copies on LP, 3,000 on CD)
“Waiting for Columbus,” an album by the original Lowell George-era Little Feat, is widely regarded as one of the best live rock albums of all time. This show, recorded live in a studio with a small audience, has existed in bootleg form for many decades, and been revered as a worthy companion piece to that other one, but it never sounded like this on boot. Both the LP and CD editions coming out this week are branded as RSD Exclusives, which means, once they’re gone, you may have lost your shot at having it in physical form… at least until it gets bootlegged again.

A plethora of Christmas records
Says Colliton, “I love the fact that we can put Christmas records on the list because it’s so close to Christmas. We could never do that in April, ever. I’m a big sucker for these.” She points out that Teddy Swims “is a YouTube sensation, and there’s several of these really big guys with the beards, just these really big jolly guys. He’s one of them. His voice is so classic and soulful and just lends itself to Christmas music. He is an interesting artist because he’s coming from the YouTube world, and this is one of his first forays into the quote-unquote mainstream physical world of music. And I hope that his fans on YouTube follow him into this.” As a “Gilmore Girls” fan, she’s also high on the prospect of a Christmas album by Grant-Lee Phillips that includes “Winterglow,” which he popularized in character on that show. Also, anyone who has invested in RSD’s 3-inch vinyl turntables now has a 3-inch Christmas record, by Norah Jones, to add to their novel collection. Among the Xmas titles:

The Staple Singers, “The Twenty-Fifth Day of December” (3,125 copies)
Reverend Horton Heat, “We Three Kings” (1,175 copies)
Grant-Lee Philips, “Yuletide” (1,600 copies)
Teddy Swims, “A Very Teddy Christmas” (4,800 copies)
Norah Jones, “Christmas Don’t Be Late” (2,000 copies on 3″ vinyl)
Jorma Kaukonen, “Christmas” (2,500 copies each in separate “candy cane” and “Christmas tree” editions)
JD McPherson, “Socks” (500 copies on cassette only)

Cassettes on Record Store Day? It’s a thing
Besides the aforementioned Aerosmith, Local Natives and JD McPherson cassettes, you can look for tapes from Avett Brothers (a 500-copy release of their 2007 breakout album “Emotionalism”) and Jamie Lidell. “I have gotten a reputation within the Record Store Day world as kind of being the cheerleader for cassettes,” Colliton says. “And my best answer to ‘why’ is: Why not? They’re cute. They’re cheap. You can buy cassette players, boom boxes. I personally predict they’re going to be fairly hot this season, partially because turntables aren’t the easiest things to find right now; they’ve been hit by the supply chain issue. Boom boxes are fun. And for the last couple of CES Consumer Electronic Shows, even before the pandemic, I was seeing Walkmen and boom boxes in all the booths. Record stores have redesigned their walls to have a cassette section like they used to, and can barely keep them in stock. Even more than vinyl, there’s such a kitschy, retro, nostalgia feel for cassettes that I think people are just giving into. I don’t think people who are in the vinyl world are in it just for that, because they’re not cheap. They’re fragile, and you’ve got to take care of them if you want them to last any amount of time. Cassettes, not so much necessarily! And  if it is nostalgic, if it is something you lived through the first time, the cassette thing, then it makes you feel young. And for young people who haven’t lived through it, it’s just totally against everything they’re supposed to be about right now. It’s totally not digital; it’s so totally not in the cloud.”

Also, cassettes are collectible, as new releases, in that they tend to be issues in lots of 500 to 1500; although Adele probably had a few more cassettes of “30” printed that, her cassette will probably turn out to be her rarest variant in the future. Even for some music fans who haven’t bought a new boom box yet to replace the one they threw out 25 years ago, “There is that completist who is the biggest fan of that band, and God love’ em, they want a cassette. Car tapes for life — I’ll be the cheerleader for them,” Colliton says. As for their Black Friday appeal in particular: “Oh, come on. Perfect stocking stuffers. Or, you know, if it’s Hanukkah and you’re getting a lot of gifts over a number of days, they’re perfect for that.”

On the subject of delays
“Black Friday lists are always smaller than Record Store Day lists, always — partially because we recognize that the fourth quarter of every year is when the heavy hitters get released anyway,” and thus a period when record stores theoretically need the least help. “Then this year, absolutely, supply chain issues and vinyl production — not for Adele!  — every week we get emails from distribution saying, ‘Here are the titles that are bumping to something else.’ And that is just the world we’re in right now. So to think that it wouldn’t affect our Black Friday titles was silly. There are 10 titles — one of those on two formats — that are coming on Dec. 10 instead, because we still want them to come, that are still going to be exclusive to indie record stores and coming in time for Christmas. Some of them were literally still on boats and couldn’t get into port or had custom hangups.

“Some of them, we proactively, as the label distributor, said, ‘We could maybe make it on time, but that would make things very, very chaotic at the distribution level and at the store level, the three days before Black Friday. And we don’t want either Record Store Day or Black Friday to be something stores aren’t looking forward to because it’s chaotic and awful, and because they’re getting these pallets of shipments and having to break it all down when they really want to be cooking their Thanksgiving meal. We want it to be good for everyone all around, and labels are with that. So there are some titles that moved to December 10 — and one, Tank & the Bangas, to Dec. 17 — but there are also some titles that were coming that now are going to be coming on Record Store Day 2022, for a lot of reasons — licensing issues, shipping, customs. All those things that happen to records every week, but also to all kinds of things every week, will probably happen more next year. But we feel like we’re being cognizant and proactive enough that we’ll do everything we can to make it great,” whenever each title’s time comes.

The complete list of RSD exclusives coming out on Black Friday:

Aerosmith – 1971: The Road Starts Hear LP and cassette
All Them Witches – Live on the Internet 3LP
A Place To Bury Strangers – Hologram: Destroyed and Reassembled LP
The Avett Brothers – Emotionalism cassette
Chet Baker – Albert’s House LP
Bee Gees – Three Kisses of Love LP
Big Brother and the Holding Company feat. Janis Joplin – Combination of the Two: Live at the Monterey International Pop Festival LP
Blackberry Smoke – Stoned LP
Blxst – Just for Clarity 12-inch
Rich Brian – Amen 2LP
Broken Social Scene – Feel Good Lost 20th Anniversary Edition LP
Roy Buchanan – The Prophet: The Unreleased First Polydor Album 2LP
Canned Heat – Friends in the Can LP
Canned Heat and Memphis Slim – Memphis Heat LP
John Carpenter – Ghosts of Mars Soundtrack LP
Ray Charles – Live in Stockholm LP
Chief Keef – Thot Breaker LP
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate 50th Anniversary LP
Jackson Conti (Madlib) – Sujinho 2LP
Sam Cooke – The First Mile of the Way 3 x 10-inch
Chick Corea and Lionel Hampton – In Concert: Live at MIDEM 1978 LP
Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House – At Montreux LP
Crobot – Rat Child 12-inch
Miles Davis – Live-Evil 2LP
Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club LP
Rob Dickinson – Fresh Wine for the Horses 2LP
Dio – Holy Diver LP picture disc
Dio – The Last in Line LP picture disc
Dire Straits – Encores Live 12-inch
Billie Eilish – No Time to Die 7-inch
Eric Essix – Songs From the Deep LP
Evanescence – Evanescence LP
Tav Falco – Club Car Zodiac 12-inch
Fleetwood Mac – Alternate Live 2LP
The Grouch – Show You the World 2LP
The Gun Club – Live at the Starwood LP
Daryl Hall and John Oates – Fall in Philadelphia: The Definitive Demos 1968-71 LP
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – My Little Shop of Horrors LP
The Reverend Horton Heat – We Three Kings LP
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Paris 67 LP
John Hicks Trio – Is That So? 2LP
Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden LP picture disc
Chris Isaak – Beyond the Sun LP
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Georgia Blue 2LP
The Jacka – Tear Gas 2LP
Henry Jackman – Cherry: An Apple Original Film Soundtrack 2LP
The Jackson 5 – ABC LP
Johnnie Johnson – Johnnie B. Bad LP
Norah Jones – Christmas Don’t Be Late 3-inch
Judas Priest – The Best of Judas Priest 2LP
Michael Kamen – The Iron Giant Original Score LP picture disc
Jorma Kaukonen – Christmas… Christmas Tree Edition LP
Jorma Kaukonen – Christmas… Candy Cane Edition LP
Carole King – In Concert Live at the BBC 1971 LP
King’s X – Please Come Home… Mr. Bulbous LP
James LaBrie – Elements of Persuasion 2LP
k.d. lang – All You Can Eat LP
John Legend – Once Again 2LP
Jamie Lidell – Muddlin Gear cassette
Lil Wayne feat. Rich the Kid – Trust Fund Babies CD
Little Feat – Electrif Lycanthrope: Live at Ultra-Sonic Studios, 1974 2LP and CD
Local Natives – Music From the Penn Gala in 1983 cassette
Lera Lynn – Live and Unplugged from Vinyl Tap LP
Magma – BBC 1974 Londres 2LP
Matata – Independence LP
Maxwell – Now LP
Barry McGuire – Eve of Destruction LP
JD McPherson – Socks cassette
Mr. Big – Lean Into It LP
Mobb Deep – Free Agents 2LP
Modern English – After the Snow LP
Motörhead – The Lost Tapes Vol.1: Live In Madrid 1995 2LP
The Munsters – At Home with the Munsters LP
Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Ray Price – Willie, Merle and Ray: Big Hits Live From the Last of the Breed Tour LP
Non Phixion – The Green LP 2LP
Oneohtrix Point Never – Renditions I 10-inch
Ozzy Osbourne – No More Tears LP picture disc
Buck Owens and His Buckeroos – Bridge Over Troubled Water LP
Charlie Parker – Bird in LA 4LP and 2CD
Art Pepper – Promise Kept: The Artist House Albums 4LP
Oscar Peterson – A Time for Love: The Oscar Peterson Quartet Live in Helsinki 1987 3LP
Grant-Lee Phillips – Yuletide 12-inch
Pink Lincolns – I Am a Genius 7-inch
John Powell – How to Train Your Dragon Soundtrack 2LP
Todd Rundgren – Healing LP
Bobby Rush – Chicken Heads 50th Anniversary 12-inch
RZA as Bobby Digital – Digital Bullet 2LP
Saigon Kick – The Lizard LP
John Scott – Inseminoid Soundtrack LP
The Shangri-Las – The Best of the Red Bird and Mercury Recordings 2LP
Smith/Kotzen – Better Days 12-inch
Sons of Kemet – African Cosmology 12-inch
Dusty Springfield – The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971 2LP
Squirrel Nut Zippers – Lost Songs of Doc Souchon LP
The Staples Singers – The 25th of December LP
Stray Cats – Live at Rockpalast 3LP
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – Johnny Appleseed 12-inch
Styles P – Float 2LP
Teddy Swims – A Very Teddy Christmas 12-inch
Tammi Terrell – The Irresistible LP
Big Mama Thornton – Sassy Mama: Live at the Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club LP
Thundercat – The Golden Age of Apocalypse 10th Anniversary Edition LP
Tierney Tough – A Farce to Reckon With 7-inch
Chris Travis – Pizza and Codeine 2LP
Trippie Redd – A Love Letter to You 1 / A Love Letter to You 2 3LP
U Roy – Creation Rebel: Rare Sides by the Reggae Originator 1971-1975 LP
U2 – Gloria 40th Anniversary 12-inch
Dave Van Ronk – Hear Me Howl: Live 1964 LP
Various Artists – Americana Railroad 2LP
Various Artists – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Soundtrack 2LP
Various Artists – Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack LP
Various Artists – Tickets for Doomsday: Heavy Psychedelic Funk, Soul, Ballads and Dirges 1970-1975 LP
Wailing Souls – Fire House Rock 40th Anniversary LP
Nancy Wilson – You and Me 2LP
The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong All-Stars – Original Grooves: A Gift to Pops 12-inch
The Wrens – Secaucus 2LP
“Weird Al” Yankovic and Osaka Popstar – Beat on the Brat 12-inch

RSD Black Friday exclusives now coming out Dec. 10, 2021:

Clairo – Sling
Dave Davies – Kinked
Emoi – Willy’s Wonderland
Freeze – Rabid Reaction
Gladiators — 1983 The Nighthawk EP
Chuck Prophet – No Other Love
Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson – The Bottom Line Archive Series
Spoon – “Wild”/”Wild Remix”
Sun Ra – Omniverse [CD]
Sun Ra – Omniverse [LP]
Swirlies – They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days In The Glittering World Of The Salons

RSD Black Friday exclusives now coming out Dec. 17, 2021:

Tank and the Bangas – The Big Outside

RSD Black Friday exclusives delayed to Record Store Day 2022 in April:

Angelo Badalamenti – Blue Velvet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Deluxe Edition)
Souren Baronian – The Middle Eastern Soul of Carlee Records
The Jim Carroll Band – Catholic Boy (Deluxe)
Alice Cooper – Brutal Planet
The Grouch – Show You The World
High Pulp – Mutual Attraction Vol. 3
The Jacka – Tear Gas
The Jackson 5 – ABC
LA Guns – Waking the Dead
Night Ranger – Somewhere in California
Rockness Monsta (of Heltah Skeltah) – He’s On Fire b/w Faith
Gavin Rossdale – WANDERlust
Twiztid – I Tried 2 Warn U
Various Artists – Stubbs The Zombie: The Soundtrack

Exclusives announced for RSD Black Friday but awaiting a new due date:

David Crosby & Graham Nash – Wind On The Water
Foo Fighters – Making A Fire (Mark Ronson Re-Version) b/w Chasing Birds (Preservation Hall Jazz Band Re-Version)
Thelonious Monk Septet – Monk’s Music
Poison – Flesh & Blood
Puscifer – Existential Reckoning: Live at Arcosanti
Tesla – Mechanical Resonance
Kali Uchis – Sin Miedo (Del Amor y Otros Demonios)
Various Artists – Latin Legends Live

For a fuller look at all the Black Friday titles, including their content and quantities, click here. To search for your nearest participating independent store, click here.