Record Store Day 2015

As vinyl geeks know, the 2015 version of “The List,” the annual compilation of special items to be released for Record Store Day, had little this spring that was either super rare, super essential or super exciting. This would not be a year to stand in line at 4 am to score the killer single. The grumbling amongst pro record collectors, those willing to ransom loved ones or offer vital organs for a single by an obscure psychedelic band from Wales, was a constant undertone of discussion at SXSW 2015.

Yet this did not stop the masses from turning out, queuing up and over heatin’ their credit cards for Record Store Day 2015. In NYC, the weather was gorgeous and so the crowds were overflowing, at least in Brooklyn. Although I pondered wading into the surging masses at the Rough Trade Store in Williamsburg, I stayed closer to home and supported Permanent Records and the one and only, 5th Ave Records and Tapes, which has been open since the mid-1960s, was last cleaned during the Nixon administration and is constantly, according to its owner, on the verge of closing. They did, however, manage to get a charming sign up.


For those who possibly don’t know, Record Store Day is when labels large and small all pitch in and come up with special product, which could be anything from unreleased studio and/or live tracks, and lots of colored seven and twelve inch vinyl, or, to cite a few specific examples, a 10” LP made to look like a 78 with Robert Johnson on one side and Steve Earle on the other, or a cover by southern soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” on a single shaped like the state of Alabama. All of this supposedly collectible stuff is then shipped to stores that become part of the Record Store Day organization and on one Saturday morning in the spring and fall, they put it all out and fling open the doors. How much sells as opposed to what sits around to be sold off cheap later is a matter of some dispute among store owners. And then there’s always the question of which stores get more of the good stuff and which get an overload of the dogs.

Overall, it’s a fabulous idea that brings in hordes of normal, non-obsessed music fans, which don’t frequent record stores. As I gazed at the lines, I couldn’t help but think of folks who only to go to church on Christmas or only take to the sauce on New Year’s Eve. Despite the allure of collectible stuff (all of which can be had later, for not much more money on eBay) Record Store Day feels like amateur night. It’s wide-eyed wonder in record stores, which frankly, is fantastic. I saw well-heeled folks, who I am sure visit a record store once a year if that, laying down credit cards for multiple copies of $45 Otis Redding LPs and singles by Jeff Beck, D’Angelo and Citizen Dick. I never saw the colored vinyl Sly Stone live LP set that I fancied tho’ I did score the Bowie/St. Paul piece. Despite collector quibbles, Record Store Day works and with every passing year builds more momentum and enthusiasm. I salute the idea and the practice of drawing people and money into record stores. Us cranky, hard-bitten collector types have the rest of the year, all those snowy Tuesday nights, to browse in peace.

otaku's picture

If you look carefully at the bottom of that offramp, you can see me walking from 5th Avenue Records to Permanent Record.