Record Store Day ’17 – Our top picks of this year’s releases

Once again Record Store Day is going to be crammed-full of excellent releases from hundreds of artists. At Richer Sounds, music is one of our biggest passions, so this is an incredibly exciting time for us all. Some of our store colleagues have picked out their top tips for the collectibles, oddities and downright classic releases from this year’s exclusive titles; read on to find out what they thought…

  Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hiversium Concert

Surely the jazz highlight of this year’s Record Store Day exclusive offerings, the LP release of Another Time serves as the live accompaniment to last year’s lost studio album Some Other Time. Recorded live at the Hiversium in Holland in 1968, two days after the studio sessions for Some Other Time, the album is now only the third release that sees the master pianist joined with legendary bassist Eddie Gomez and (soon to be become jazz fusion hero) drummer Jack Dejohnette. The record store day 12 inch release includes an extensive book of rare photos and essays from a variety of jazz authors and historians, as well as a compilation of exclusive interviews with Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette and pianist Steve Kuhn.

Joe, York store.

  David Bowie – No Plan

Released digitally exactly one year after David Bowie’s death in 2016, the No Plan EP finally sees a physical release on vinyl for Record Store Day 2017. Featuring songs taken from Bowie’s Broadway musical Lazarus, the EP’s four tracks all date from the recording sessions of his last studio album; Blackstar. Musically speaking, the tracks are close relatives of their Blackstar counterparts, with the same lush production and brooding jazz orchestration throughout. The title track is a stunner, with Bowie seemingly musing on his past whilst ruminating on his own impending mortality, set to gorgeous musicianship from his band. “Killing a Little Time” throws in a change of pace, with its heavy electric guitar riff before giving way to the closing cut “When I Met You”, which echoes of classic Bowie. No Plan is a great companion to Blackstar and serves a timely reminder of David Bowie’s irrepressible talent.

Chris, Liverpool store.

  Jamiroquai – Automaton

Jamiroquai have returned after a seven-year hiatus, with Jay Kay’s taste in headwear still fairly questionable and with all of the band’s trademark grooves still intact. Automaton has easily surpassed almost all expectations from a sales point of view, topping the album charts in more than 30 countries. But how does it hold up musically? Well, if you like Jamiroquai, it’s pretty great. Kay’s modus operandi has always been to get people moving, and the 12 tracks that make up Automaton are clearly cut from the same cloth as those of it’s predecessors. That’s not to call them carbon copies or throwbacks though, with lead single “Automaton” showing that the band can approach tracks with a more modern sound and do them justice. The chorus is definitely a big, cheesy Jay Kay signature number, but the sharp synth stabs that kick the track off show a band keen not to rest on their laurels – a trait that serves them well throughout the rest of the album. Jamiroquai fans get a special treat this Record Store Day, with the titular “Automaton” and B-side “Nights Out In The Jungle” being released on 10″ clear vinyl in a mirriboard sleeve.

Chris, Liverpool store.

  Lou Reed – Perfect Night: Live in London

The memory of New York’s hippest, fiercest and most abrasive poet/musician lives on in this revival of Lou Reed’s classic acoustic performance at 1997’s Meltdown festival in London. Featuring tracks spanning from early Velvet Underground right through to the sexuality-bending Transformer era, before charging all the way up to the dangerous, experimental and ear-blistering crash of his later works, it’s the first opportunity to own this seminal concert on vinyl. Among the highlights are a revamped version of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” (originally sung by Nico), and a duo of seldom heard tracks; “Talking Book” and “Into the Divine”. Both were written and performed for the 1996 stage collaboration Time Rocker, written and directed by Reed and Robert Wilson, and have scarcely been circulated in recorded format. Limited to a release of just 7000 12″ LP’s, expect this one to roll out quickly.

Joe, York store.

  The Small Faces – In Session At The BBC 1965-1966

Mod favourites The Small Faces mark Record Store Day with a 12” vinyl release of a series of newly discovered recordings transferred from BBC transcription discs. Featuring pre-Ian McLagan recordings with original keyboardist Jimmy Winston and Steve Marriott’s interview with Brian Matthew, these new transferrals reveal live versions of early Small Faces tracks in a fuller and more dynamic sound than has before been heard. Also included with the release is a reel-to-reel tape transfer recorded from the radio by a young fan tuning in to the Joe Loss Pop Show. Described as “rough and ready and certainly not what you would expect to find on audiophile quality vinyl”, the tape serves as the only known recording of The Small Faces appearance on the show.

Joe, York store.

  Pink Floyd- Interstellar Overdrive

Pink Floyd fans can look forward to this never-before-released 1966 version of “Interstellar Overdrive”, recorded in mono and pressed on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl. Coming in at just shy of 15 minutes, the 33 ⅓ RPM vinyl comes packed with a fold out poster and A6 postcard of classic band photos taken from their early days. Comprising of the founding Floyd line up of Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, Rick Wright and Nick Mason, this original recording was completed at the Thompson studio in Hertfordshire in November 1966 before the band were signed to EMI. It is a rare opportunity to hear the band at their rawest and certainly under their heaviest influence from band leader Syd Barrett. When compared to the weight of their later work, it is often easy to forget just how pioneering the thrashing psychedelic drive of these early Floyd compositions were when seated in their place in time. Don’t miss out.

Joe, York store.

  Kate Tempest – Let Them Beat Chaos/Let Them Speak Chaos

I love this record! Except then I don’t. Then I do. Then I don’t. Every time I listen to Let Them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest’s second album, I change my mind and as a result I find it utterly compelling.

The record is built on Tempest’s love of language and storytelling, as she blurs the boundary between rap and spoken word. After setting the scene, it tells the story of seven neighbours who are unknown to each other but are awake one morning at 4:18 AM. Repeatedly telling the tale of this one moment in time, Tempest uses their homes to describe these seven people before exploring what 4:18 AM is to them as each suffers an existential crisis. This is punctuated with the savage rumbles of a building storm as the album intensifies. Meanwhile, simple, bass-heavy tunes seethe and writhe…then the storm breaks. Record Store Day sees this album split in two halves on black and white vinyl, with one record housing only the beats (Beat Chaos), while the other features only Tempest’s spoken words (Speak Chaos).

Alan, Eton store.

  Elastica – Elastica  

Elastica is being re-released for Record Store Day, more than 20 years after its debut. The thing that still amazes me about it is how fresh it sounds. Insistent, punchy and to the point, it has lost none of its urgency or energy and hasn’t aged in the way that much of the Britpop that followed it has. The record is built from perfect little pop songs, but with a harder, more raucous edge that comes from the band being raised on New Wave and punk. The hits are still great – “Connection”, “Waking Up” et al – but the rest of the album is just as catchy. It’s not a flawless record by any means. It flags a little halfway through and “Indian Song” is completely out of place, but only a lack of ruthlessness in editing the track listing holds it back from greatness. The Record Store Day vinyl comes as it did originally, packaged with a fanzine and a flexi disc.

Alan, Eton store.

  The Smiths – The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

 Originally released as a single seven months before it appeared on The Smiths’ third studio album The Queen is Dead, “The Boy With The Thorn in His Side” reached no. 23 on the UK singles chart in the autumn of ’85, and was accompanied with a promotional video, which was completely new territory for the band. The track showcases the powerhouse writing team that Morrissey and Marr were at the time, with Marr’s jangly shimmering guitar work and solid pop production setting the perfect backdrop for Morrissey’s soaring theatrical wail, it remains a top favourite amongst Smiths fans. For this year’s Record Store Day, the band are releasing an unheard demo version of “The Boy With The Thorn in His Side” on a 7” vinyl single, backed with the single’s original B-Side “Rubber Ring” in an earlier variation taken from a Drone Studios recording session.

Colin, Chiswick store.

  Toto – Africa/Rosanna

Originally appearing on 1982’s Grammy-winning Toto IV, two of Toto’s most iconic songs “Africa” and “Rosanna” are seeing a unique and exciting release for Record Store Day this year. The unmistakably sultry drum beat of “Africa” along with it’s iconic chorus sits nicely against “Rosanna”, with its interesting mix that sounds oddly similar to American evangelical rock. One of this year’s most visually pleasing releases, the singles have been pressed to a picture disc die-cut in the shape of Africa, the “Africa” side featuring a map of Africa, while the flip side has a picture of Rosanna Arquette, who for some time was rumoured to be the subject of the song.

Joe, Bath store.

  Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales – Room 29

Room 29 is a shoe-in for this year’s least likely collaboration. Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker teamed up with MC, producer and classically-trained pianist Chilly Gonzales to release an album of spoken word ruminations on the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles, and released it on the famed Deutsche Gramophone record label, no less. Mad as it sounds, it makes for a great listen, with Cocker’s witty, sardonic lyrics and Gonzales brilliant production making this a unique, fun and slightly bizarre proposition. Across 16 tracks, Cocker introduces us to some of the famous former residents of the infamous Sunset Boulevard haunt while Gonzales’ light-jazz piano playing sits nicely alongside the ambient noises and found sounds that almost give the album the feel of a radio play. You definitely won’t be rocking out to this one, but it’s more than worth a once over. Released for Record Store Day on coloured vinyl with a 32 page booklet in a luxurious embossed sleeve.

Chris, Liverpool store.

  The Flaming Lips – The Flaming Lips Onboard the International Space Station Concert for Peace

It wouldn’t be Record Store Day without a release from The Flaming Lips, and this year is no exception. The Flaming Lips Onboard the International Space Station Concert for Peace features seven live takes of tracks released on the excellent Oczy Mlody, the band’s last full-length release. I doubt even frontman Wayne Coyne has managed to blag a trip for the band on the ISS, so expect a fully-fictionalised, totally mad take on the songs that I, for one, am extremely excited to hear! Pressed on orange vinyl and limited to just 2700 copies, this definitely looks like one of the pickups for Record Store Day 2017.

Chris, Liverpool store.

  The Coral – Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues EP

With its titular nod to early Bob Dylan and psychedelic-leaning cover art, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that Wirral psych-rockers The Coral are not exactly breaking with tradition on this latest EP. Fortunately, when The Coral do their thing (it’s slightly tired but reasonably fair to point out the strong Doors/early Pink Floyd influence in their work), they do it very well indeed. Two of the four tracks on here are actually remixes of songs from their last full-length release Distance Inbetween – itself a strong effort – but the two new tracks (“After the Rain” and “Unforgiven”) sit nicely, both musically and thematically, alongside previous works from the band. Probably one for ‘proper’ fans, Holy Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues EP on a Record Store Day exclusive picture disc is definitely a worthwhile pickup.

Chris, Liverpool store.

  The Congos – Heart Of The Congos

Genius and madness are often close bedfellows and if so, Lee “Scratch” Perry has a king size divan all of his own. So erratic did he become that he burned down his own Black Ark studios, but confirmation of his genius shines bright in his production on records like Heart of The Congos, alongside the dub-opus Super Ape and Max Romeo’s War In A Babylon. Perry is a pioneer and for people of a certain age, this is a stone-wall-classic-roots-reggae album and a sublime journey into the rural heart of the Rastafarian ideology; biblical, righteous and proud. The soulful, three-part harmony vocal echoes classic rock steady, but here the message is a love of Jah rather than a good woman. With a lyrical simplicity that is a powerful indictment of poverty and struggle, Perry’s use of the studio gives a collie-fogged mystical quality to these wonderful melodies. The most exciting news is that this record returns to Perry’s original mix, buried since the first limited JA album pressing. Back on the black stuff, this is essential.

Simon, London Bridge store.

  T-Rex – Electric Warrior­

Confession time: A teenaged me was rather disappointed with this LP. I borrowed my mate’s copy, but never purchased my own until some years later. The problem was that it didn’t quite match the thrill of “Get It On”, a song performed on Top Of The Pops that had punched me so hard, it set off my dazed quest to become a pop star. I bought the clothes and talked the talk, never quite walking the walk that matched Bolan’s corkscrew elfin perfection. What the 13 year old me missed was that this album perfectly fused the cosmic whimsy of Bolan’s previous outings (“Cosmic Dancer”, “Monolith”, “Life’s A Gas”) to a hard edged, grungy, sexily salacious boogie which, with Tony Visconti’s confident hand at the tiller, sounds as right today as it should have back then. “Get It On” and “Jeepster” are matched by “Mambo Sun”, “Lean Woman Blues”, “Rip Off” and “The Motivator” to create a masterpiece that still glitters the better part of 50 years later, released for Record Store Day on gold vinyl with a special die-cut sleeve.

Simon, London Bridge store.

  John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Broadcast 65 EP

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers have flown the blues flag since the early 60s, unleashing and nurturing an astonishing array of talent along the way. The band has proved a catalyst for the careers of some bona fide superstars and supergroups, not least Eric Clapton, who in ’65 with the Yardbirds proving too pop oriented, had fled to the more purist environment of Mayall’s combo to unleash the kind of blues guitar style that set the standard for the London circuit. Coincidentally, these sessions were also recorded with Jack Bruce in the band, as he was temporarily depping for John McVie and the first furtive mumblings of “doing something together,” had probably taken place, leading to the creation of Cream. Three of these cuts, Freddie King’s “Hideaway”, Mose Allison’s “Parchment Farm” and Mayall’s own “Little Girl” were destined for the breakthrough “Beano” LP the following year, but “Tears In My Eyes” wouldn’t make it to vinyl until Mick Taylor was in the band, making this a curio well worth having.

Simon, London Bridge store.

  Field Music – Tones Of Town

Of all the goodies released for Record Store Day, Field Music and David Bowie top my shopping list. Field Music’s Tones Of Town, their second album, will be a welcome addition to my vinyl collection and supplant the CD as my listening choice, as LPs so often do. I originally had this pressed into my hand on a CDR at the vociferous insistence of a good buddy with whom I’ve shared many musical moments. He was right to do so, listing a litany of influences that ticked many a box on a musical arc that covers intelligent, edgy, melodic, funky and good old groovy. Sure, their angular riffing might stop them from ever being the huge deal that they should be, a Mercury Music Prize nomination, the endorsement of Prince and a blazing appearance on Later… with Jools Holland aside. If you get Field Music, however, you will really get them. They have arguably bettered this record several times since, but as a starting point, I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially on Record Store Day exclusive yellow vinyl.

Simon, London Bridge store.

  Babymetal – Metal Resistance

Babymetal’s Metal Resistance is still one of the most intense(ly confusing) albums around. The first Japanese band to sell out the SSE Wembley Arena, playing an extremely eclectic mix of J-Pop Idol and Thrash Metal; the end result is surprisingly satisfying. With thundering hits such as “Karate” and “Road Of Resistance”, all performed by the three teenage girls that comprise the key members of the band. Put quite simply, the album is rule-breaking at its very best. Nearly all of the songs are entirely in Japanese but that doesn’t make the sheer aggressive enthusiasm any easier to resist. Record Store Day will see the album released as a special edition double red vinyl, but if you somehow miss that, it’s highly recommended you get this album in your back catalogue immediately.

Steve, Southgate store.

  Bullet For My Valentine – Don’t Need You

Don’t Need You” is the first new track (of many to follow) since South Wales heavyweights Bullet For My Valentine signed to the new unholy union of Spinefarm Records + Search and Destroy. Keen eared listeners might catch the band using drop B tuning in this song (a rare choice for them) and it’s clear that the band are maturing as the rampage through the charts. Whilst the release for Record Store Day is only a single with a logo etched on the B-Side of a sumptuous transparent red vinyl, the song will not be released ANYWHERE ELSE on their upcoming album, so it is a collector’s item in the truest sense of the word. It may look like it belongs kept lovingly in its sleeve, but it really demands head-banging and cranking that volume knob right up!

Steve, Southgate store.

  Catfish and The Bottlemen – The Balcony

Catfish and The Bottlemen have re-released their debut album The Balcony for this year’s Record Store Day, coming at you on a gorgeous monochrome design to fit the strange but somewhat iconic album art (two headless people with their hands down one another’s trousers), the LP is released on a white vinyl with black centre. If you’ve not gotten round to hearing much of the chart-storming Welsh rockers, expect a stunning blend of growly yet assured vocals and guitar hooks filled with grit, charm and some truly unapologetic swagger. It may have been the debut for the band but the now gold rated album gives the impression of much more experienced band and demands attention.

Steve, Southgate store.

  Fleetwood Mac – Alternate Mirage

With a limited release of only 3500 units in the UK and only 6500 worldwide, the alternate release version of Mirage (aptly named Alternate Mirage) by the legendary Fleetwood Mac is sure to fly off the racks this year. Originally a CD-only release last year, the album contains early takes barely heard before from the original album on songs such as, “Gypsy”, “Hold On” and “Oh, Diane”. With the roaring success of the original album, having gone multi-platinum over the world, Alternate Mirage is well worth a listen by both existing fans who may not be familiar with the alternate takes, to vinyl newcomers who want to hear the nuanced differences between recordings. But with so few on the shelves this year, you’ll need to move fast!

Steve, Southgate store.

  Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness

If you polled the whole of Coheed and Cambria’s fan base asking them where their “jumping on point” was with the band, you’d likely see the band’s third studio record, 2005’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness coming out on top, in no small thanks to “Welcome Home” being featured in the wildly successful Guitar Hero series. In truth, there really couldn’t be a better album to wade into the immense world of Coheed and Cambria. The album perfectly highlights all the elements that make the band so unique, like their signature hooky vocal harmonies found in “Crossing The Frame” and “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood & Burial), the brutal heaviness of “The Suffering” contrasted against beautiful ballads like “Wake Up”, and the 4 part mini-rock opera “The Willing Well” that rounds out the record. For Record Store Day, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness has received a re-master from the original sources, pressed for the first time on exclusive splatter vinyl on this 2 x LP release.

Colin, Support office.

  Cocteau Twins – Milk & Kisses

Originally released in 1996, Scotland’s Cocteau Twins’ Milk & Kisses proved to be the band’s eighth and final studio album (a writing effort two years later completely dissolved the band). Written amidst great deals of personal turmoil, substance abuse recovery and relationships breaking apart, Milk & Kisses saw a slight return to an earlier Cocteau Twins sound, eschewing their previous pop excursions in favour of familiar shimmering layered guitars, found in tracks like “Treasure Hiding” and “Serpent Skirt”, as vocalist Elizabeth Fraser shrouded her lyrics in her distinctive soprano glossolalia, showcased at its best in the jangly and joyous “Up”. Cocteau Twins fans get a double treat this Record Store Day, with Milk & Kisses getting a gatefold 2 x LP release on milk coloured vinyl (with the bonus record featuring in-era tracks from the Tishbite and Violaine EPs), as well as the band’s seventh studio album Four-Calendar Café receiving a 2 x LP pressing on midnight blue vinyl with in-era bonus tracks.

Colin, Support office.