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The Freedom of Music: Independent Record Store Day

April 18th, 2010

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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

Yesterday was Independent Record Store Day. Did you miss it? Are you, at this moment, slapping your forehead because you forgot all about it? Not likely. More like your saying to yourself, “there’s an independent record store day?” Why, yes there is, it’s a promotional event by some players in the music industry, and is significant because a number of artists supported the idea, and got behind it. sidebar-1

Of course, if you go the right websites, are on the right mailing lists, you knew about it. And quite a few people go to those websites, subscribe to those mailing lists. At Other Music in New York City, they lined up around the block to get in. Easy for them, you might think. They still have record stores in New York. While it’s true New York has everything, including a street with two chess shops across the road from each other and a peanut butter restaurant, you didn’t have to be in Manhattan to enjoy Record Store Day. Chances were there was someplace within a short enough drive. Out here in Cambridge, I had four or five options nearby, more than ten if I was willing to put in an hours driving.

Why, on the other hand, would you want to attend Independent Record Store Day? Why stand in line on Saturday to shop at a store that was there Friday, and still will be, presumably, Monday. The reason is that, as I mentioned earlier, a number of artists got behind the idea. Real, artists, significant artists, with long histories in the music world, released new material specifically for this event. We aren’t talking a new Lady Gaga video here, although she may have done so. How about a new Rolling Stones single, only on vinyl? The song, Plundered My Soul, is a find from the vaults. A lost song from the Exile on Main St. sessions, Plundered My Soul is a great rocker. Proof that The Rolling Stones were once a great band, especially considering Plunder My Soul didn’t make the final cut.

Plunder My Soul singles, which sadly were gone by the time I got off my lazy ass and wandered over to Encore Records, are already selling on eBay in the $30 to $60 range . As an aside, the Kitchener Record claims there was also a line-up at Encore Records at opening time. They did have a number of the items specially released for Record Store Day. A number of vinyl albums, Jeff Beck’s new one, and John Hiatt’s newest for example. Myself, I picked up two 10” singles, a new, Bruce Springsteen and a Them Crooked Vultures picture disk.

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The Springsteen features two previously released tracks, but tracks that have never been out in a physical format before. Both have gotten the iTunes treatment, but the limited edition 10” is just for Record Store Day. The A side, Wrecking Ball, was recorded and written specifically for his 2009 Giant’s Stadium concerts. Giant’s Stadium will go under the wrecking ball itself. The song itself, according to Pitchfork upon it’s iTunes release,  is:

dedicated to the big building, New Jersey, living, dying, turning 60, and trying to hold onto memories in the age of parking lots.

B side is a live version of Ghost of Tom Joad from 2008.

crooked-vultures-in-redThe real treat of my day, the real keeper, is the Them Crooked Vultures 10” picture disc. In case you haven’t been keeping track, Them Crooked Vultures is a new “super group,” with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, Foo Fighters frontman, and ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl back on the drums, and Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme on guitar and vocals. They are loud, brash, ballsy and real, real good. Their imagery, various drawings of a humanoid with a vulture head, is always excellent. Displayed in a Crooked Vultures red see through envelope, the picture disc is an excellent piece. The disc contains an album cut Mind Eraser, No Chaser, and a new live song, Hwy 1 on side one, and an interview on side two.

Over all Independent Record Store Day seems to have been a success, both for the stores that took part, and for me personally. It is simply great to be buying a new song, on vinyl, by some favourite artists, at a favourite record store. What more could a music fan ask for?


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