Oct102018| October 10, 2018
Including selections from John Coltrane’s lost album, David Axelrod’s Earth Rot, a Gloria Taylor 7″… and of course good old Sun Ra.
Record Store Day has announced this year’s exclusive Black Friday vinyl offerings on sale Friday 23rd November.
Launched in 2010, following the success of RSD’s annual April record shop shindig, the event piggybacks on the shopping sales mania of Black Friday, the so-called ‘busiest shopping day of the year’, in the run up to Christmas.
Highlights from this year’s offerings include music from John Coltrane’s lost album Both Directions at Once appropriately called Selections from Both Sides At Once, a 7″ reissue of Gloria Taylor’s ‘Deep Inside Of You’ (a 12″ reissue was one of our favourite dance records in September), Now Again’s reissue of David Axelrod’s Earth Rot, and (because it wouldn’t be a RSD without a Sun Ra reissue) a rerelease of Sun Ra’s Crystal Spears.
Head here for more info, and check out the list in full below.
May012018| May 1, 2018
With 90,000 records sold in the UK alone on the day.
This year’s Record Store Day fuelled an all-time high for vinyl sales worldwide, reports the BBC.
In the UK, 60,000 albums and 30,000 singles were bought on the 21st of April, a 16% increase on last year.
David Bowie’s Welcome To The Blackout was the top selling album in the UK, followed by Arcade Fire’s self titled LP, and Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits was the top selling album in the US, followed by David Bowie’s Welcome To The Blackout, and Neil Young’s Tonight’s the Night Live at the Roxy.
Even Spongebob Squarepants made the list, eeking in at number 19 with single ‘(Just a) Simple Sponge’.
Of all of the records sold, 580,000 of those were by independent retailers, accounting for a total sales increase of 17% on 2017. (Without independent retailer sales overall sales would have been down by 2.5%)
Check out the vinyl sales charts below lists below.
UK: Record Store Day 2018 – Best selling albums
1. David Bowie – Welcome to the Blackout Welcome to the Blackout – David Bowie
2. Arcade Fire – Arcade Fire
3. Pink Floyd – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Mono)
4. David Bowie – Now
5. The National – Boxer (Live in Brussels)
6. Suede – Suede
7. Courteeners – St Jude
8. Mogwai – Ten Rapid
9. David Bowie – David Bowie
10. The Who – The Kids are Alright
US: Record Store Day 2018 – best selling albums
1. Bruce Springsteen – Greatest Hits
2. David Bowie – Welcome to the Blackout (Live London ’78)
3. Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night Live at the Roxy
4. Rage Against the Machine – Live at the Democratic National Convention 2000
5. Bob Dylan & The Grateful Dead – Dylan & The Dead
6. Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Mono)
7. Prince – 1999
8. The Cure – Mixed Up
9. Grateful Dead – Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA 2/27/69
10. Phish – Billy Breathes
11. Nas – Illmatic: Live From the Kennedy Center
12. The Doors – The Matrix Part II
13. Ramones – Sundragon Sessions
14. Madonna – Madonna (The First Album)
15. The Cure – Torn Down (Mixed Up Extra)
16. The National – Boxer Live in Brussels
17. The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request
18. Jerry Garcia – Run for the Roses
19. Soundgarden – A-Sides
20. Tom Waits – Bastards
21. Tom Waits – Brawlers
22. David Bowie – Bowie Now
23. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror)
24. Sublime – 89 Vision
25. Madonna – You Can Dance
US: Record Store Day 2018 – Best selling singles
1. Led Zeppelin – ‘Friends’ / ‘Rock and Roll’
2. David Bowie – ‘Let’s Dance’ (Full Length Demo)
3. Sufjan Stevens – ‘Mystery of Love’
4. The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Juicy’
5. Jimi Hendrix – ‘Mannish Boy’ / ‘Trash Men’
6. Fleet Foxes – ‘Crack Up’ (Choral Version) / ‘In the Morning’ (Live in Switzerland)
7. Cheech & Chong – ‘Up In Smoke’ (40th Anniversary)
8. Descendents – ‘Who We Are’
9. The Police – ‘Roxanne’
10. Phoenix – ‘Monologue’
11. The Flaming Lips – ‘The Story of Yum Yum and Dragon’
12. Florence & The Machine – ‘Sky Full of Song’ / ‘New York Poem (For Polly)’
13. Steven Wilson – ‘How Big the Space’
14. Def Leppard – ‘Live at Abbey Road’
15. Mac DeMarco/Shamir – ‘Beat Happening Covers’
16. The Regrettes/The Distillers – ‘Side by Side’
17. Czarface – ‘Man’s Worst Enemy’
18. Elvis Costello – ‘Someone Else’s Heart’
19. Original Cast of Spongebob Squarepants, The New Musical – ‘(Just a) Simple Sponge’
20. Chris Bell – ‘I Am the Cosmos/You and Your Sister’
21. First Aid Kit – ‘You are the Problem Here’
22. Trampled by Turtles – ‘Wildflowers’
23. Kevin Morby + Waxahatchee – ‘Farewell Transmission/Dark Don’t Hide It’
24. The Voidz – ‘Qyurruys/Coul As a Ghoul’
25. MC5 – ‘I Can Only Give You Everything/I Just Don’t Know’
(Phonica photos by Rob Jones.)
Apr302018| April 30, 2018
From new music to reissues, radio shows and live performances, here’s what’s been moving the VF editorial team this month.
Such is the size of the in-house team at VF that we rarely feel the need to put our names to things. After all, if you’ve been a fan of our round-ups, chances are you’ve read the words of either myself or Gabriela.
So this month we’re changing things up a little, ditching our monthly round-ups in favour of something a little more personal in the form of a bite-size overview of everything myself and Gabriela have been moved by in the last four weeks.
It’s hard to work at VF in April and not feel somewhat overshadowed by Record Store Day. And, in the interests of transparency, a full disclosure – I didn’t buy any records on Record Store Day, although WeWantSounds were kind enough to furnish the office sound system with two superb soundtracks in the form of Serge Gainsbourg’s Le Pacha and Dave Grusin’s The Friends Of Eddie Coyle.
Records aside, it was a joy to cover RSD this year, with Phonica Records throwing another wonderful basement party (the streams of which you can watch here), while The Run Out in Peckham put on the off-RSD event of the day, keeping things local with label markets, limited dubplates and a line-up capped by a brain-frazzling live drone set from Coby Sey and Micachu.
The latter also featured on one of my favourite new tracks this month, ‘What Can I See’, taken from saxophonist Ben Vince’s forthcoming album Assimilation A raking, glacial movement which has something of Arthur Russell’s World Of Echo about it, Vince’s tonal, textured playing provides a healthy antidote to the crisply, groove-based world of the UK’s current crop of dancefloor jazz rascals.
Grasping backwards to first wave jazz dance, Brownswood followed up We Out Here by releasing Toshio Matsuura’s LOVEPLAYDANCE – 8 Scenes from The Floor at the end of April, placing the veteran DJ alongside the likes of Tom Skinner, Yussef Dayes, Yazz Ahmed and Nubya Garcia for a series of cover versions. While the motorik glory of ‘L.M. II’ stands out a mile, many of the headline covers left me feeling a little cold, like workouts that struggle to emerge from the shadow of their originals with anything like the personality these artists have brought to their own work.
Speaking of cold… As the temperature drops back into single figures again, it’s hard to believe there were a few days in April when Duppy Gun’s Miro Tape was the only reasonable soundtrack – a mutant dancehall collab between Bokeh Versions’ Jay Glass Dubs, Seekersinternational and Abu Ama and the Duppy Gun Production House in Jamaica (founded by Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras). Rippling with electric energy, Miro Tape gets up in your face with an airhorn and it’s an exhilarating experience. I’ve been a fan of Bokeh Versions for the last few years and this truly cements its position as one of the most forward thinking labels in the UK today. ( A mention here also to Equiknoxx, who soundtracked Cecilia Bengolea’s performance at Palais de Tokyo earlier this month, set to be released on VF in due course…)
On a different tip, we had the first taste of Optimo’s latest import in April, in the form of Sex Judas’ new album – a satirical disco project from Norway that’ll doubtless appeal to anyone who found Todd Terje’s capers a touch too saccharine. I’ve also revisited the new Arp Frique album on Rush Hour several times – particularly the melancholy afro-boogie of ‘Nos Magia’ – which is the stand-out track on a record that is stacked with dancefloor fodder, and features an intercontinental cast, from Carioca crooner Ed Motta to Nigerian disco originator Orlando Julius. In the month that Rush Hour also released Hunee’s Hunchin’ All Night compilation, The Colourful World of Arp Frique did the uncanny job of building the ethos of a border-hopping afro-disc DJ set into a live album.
There were also first tastes of new material from Sudan Archives (we’ve made no secret of our admiration, with her debut EP last year’s #1 12″ on VF) and Anthony Joseph, who heralded his 6th album with one of his finest tracks to date – a lyrically dexterous exploration of the Caribbean diaspora from the London-based poet.
In the quieter moments, there have been a few records that also resonated this month – particularly the galling realism of Daniel Blumberg’s Minus, which tackles the darkest corners of depression with a blunt numbness that recalls Mount Eerie’s grief stricken A Crow Looked At Me. It’s out on Mute in early May and is well worth tracking down. Grief also colours two new records we got a taste of this month – Tess Roby’s Beacon on Italians Do It Better, a shimmering Lynchian synth missive, which recalls the fringe ’80s pop of Linda Thompson – and Hilary Woods’ new album Colt, which is due on Scared Bones in June.
Both provide a fitting segue to what has undoubtedly been my favourite reissue of the month, from Music From Memory. Like Bullion’s Pop Not Slop series, Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991 tracks the unheralded majesty of ’80s underground pop, as it dips in an around bo-ho jazz, art rock, new wave, and even acid house. Violet Eves, Pete Brandt’s Method, Sound On Sound, Ströer Duo – there’s so much to discover here, I suspect Uneven Paths will do for Europe what last year’s ground-breaking Outro Tempo did for Brazil. Both are reissues that challenge received narratives and re-write musical history, as any great compilation should.
I also very much enjoyed Tompkins Square’s Entourage, collecting thirty instrumentals made by The Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble between 1972 and 1977. There’s something very intuitive and unrestricted about the feel of this record, as the spiritual flourishes, and un-nerving camp-fire instrumentals unfold naturally within a minimalist structure that has both purpose and freedom to wander where it pleases. Recommended for anyone enchanted by Woo’s woozy tea-time miniatures, or a curiosity about where Four Tet gets some of his more obscure samples.
Finally, the most impressive live events this month for me existed at two opposite ends of the spectrum – the raucous woodland punk-funk of Snapped Ankles, who cavorted like dosed wookies between, around and on top of the audience at Ghostnotes through a haze of driving motorik drums and psychedelic guitar licks – and Midori Takada’s theatre of minimalism, which enraptured the Union Chapel in secular homage to her gentle percussive rituals. I have a feeling the latter might have been something of a highlight for Gabriela too… – Anton Spice
Excitement fuelled by Japanese maestro Midori Takada reached a fever pitch this month, in both 2 and 3D forms. On the vinyl front, WRWTFWW announced that a long-awaited reissue of Takada’s rare 1981 MKWAJU Ensemble debut KI-Motion is on the way. A cause for celebration to all who have been patiently waiting for its return, myself included, in lieu of forking out an eye-watering £350+ to a Discogs shark for a mediocre copy.
One week later, Takada’s celestial visions descended on London’s Union Chapel. A magical ode to rhythm with echoes of Noh theatre, the performance featured aforementioned MKWAJU music, Takada’s solo releases, percussive incantations, even an unassumingly affecting homage to a Coconut Tree. Only in the hands of Takada could the tropical coconut provider be turned into something so poetic…
Whereas Takada drew all in attendance at Union Chapel into a collective state of awe, Kwake Bass’s monthly Balamii live show made me want to shimmy to and fro like a palm frond swaying in the breeze of Peckham’s Holdrons Arcade. I refrained myself to fervent head-bop meets toe tap, in the interest of it being early afternoon in broad daylight amongst a handful of people in the surrounding shops and whatnot. This episode featured a musician I was previously unaware of named Raven, laying down violin performances then sampling these instrumentals into mesmerising new sounds. Though still not online, it is 1000% worth keeping an eye out for; in the meantime you can check out past incarnations below. Also of note: Kwake Bass is dropping a new 12″ via his Done Studios collaborative label Dem1ns in June. Trust it will sell-out like wavy hot cakes, a lá the clothes.
I won’t ask you to bust out a tiny (figurative) violin for me – there were many opportunities to get a dance floor freak on this month, with two of special mention.
In early April, audio sherpa Charlie Bones returned to Total Refreshment Centre for his monthly Do You disco, with the most delightful and friendly crowd of attendees we’ve been surrounded by in time. As in his regular NTS shows, the tunes traversed everything from the essential (Larry Heard’s ‘Missing You’) to the sultry (Keysha’s ‘Stop It’) to the unexpected (Animal Collective’s ‘My Girls’), with requisite Sade thrown in for good measure. The tune that prompted a fervent id request though? The previously unknown, sweet sweet synth ascensions of Ghostwriters’ ‘Swizzle’, which also featured on Young Marco’s Dekmantel Selectors 002.
The Selectors series was back in consciousness elsewhere, thanks to Lena Willikens’ 5th instalment. Described by Willikens as “a little trip through the dunes”, Selectors 005 largely features unreleased tracks that she has been playing, formed into a ‘set’ you might hear her deliver at Dekmantel’s festivals. The collection is a refreshing change from the the diggers rarities that populated previous iterations, with standouts from JASSS, Le Matin and towLie leading the way.
Though Record Store Day was the subject of much ire (because every day is RSD and such), as per usual Phonica’s party was tops, with a stellar line-up that wasn’t revealed until the day of. Byron the Aquarius b2b Funkineven, and Peach b2b Jay were firm highlights, however there was one far and away favourite set, from man like KiNK.
I’ve listened to it virtually every day since, on repeat via the video upload. KiNK’s vinyl-only power hour also included one of my favourite dance records of the month – Phil Kieran’s ‘Polyrhythmic’. A record that, when I heard it playing in Phonica, spurred me to hightail it back to the office like a crazed banshee for fear it might sell out in minutes. Needless to say it prompted similar elation this time around. File under: big time cowbell funk freakout jam.
Taking your shakedowns out of the club and into your home, purveyor of d-floor delight Hunee released his Hunchin’ All Night triple vinyl compilation. Like his DJ sets, the collection has something to fit every mood from slung out dub chanting to horn-tooting Brazilian synth boogie and emotive xylophone-filled anthems, perfect for spring time wiling out no matter where you are.
Speaking of Hunee favourites – though it was reissued in March, Pink Rhythm’s ‘Melodies of Love’ continued its heavy rotation through April, solidifying its position as an all-time great. In the words of Hunee, “imagine people all smiling, musically open, then the sun sets and you drop this track… I would never leave.” Neither would we. – Gabriela Helfet
Apr252018| April 25, 2018
Using DJ gear as instruments.
KiNK aka Strahil Velchev is releasing the first EP under his new live alias kirilik, this June via Len Faki’s Figure imprint.
According to the label, the project is “inspired by American DJs, who used to support their DJ sets with a drum machine back in the ’80s and the early ’90s.”
“Strahil built the sonic library using unusual instruments like a Eurorack modular synthesizer with custom made modules, and other rare sound generators he has collected.”
“The sound library is limited to simple monophonic synth lines, often not longer than one bar. That way he pushes himself to be creative with the DJ gear, using it more like a music instrument, rather than record players and a mixer.”
kirilik’s four-track Infinity Is Not A Number EP follows KiNK’s Secret Studio 12″ released earlier this year, as well as his 2017 Playground LP on Running Back.
Pre-order a copy of the EP here ahead of its 12th June release, and watch KiNK in action during his mighty Record Store Day live DJ set at Phonica below.
Apr242018| April 24, 2018
With Byron the Aquarius, KiNK, Funkineven, Gilles Peterson, Peach and more.
Regardless of what your thoughts are on Record Store Day, you can always count on Phonica to deliver a stellar, free party inside the shop while you browse, and down in the basement below.
As per usual the line-up was kept secret and this year was no exception, with KiNK, Daniel Avery, FunkinEven, Byron The Aquarius, Peach, HAAi and Gilles Peterson amongst the 18 DJs who hit the TPI soundsystem.
Watch the sets in full below, and check out photos from the day by Rob Jones.
Byron the Aquarius b2b Steven Julien / FunkinEven
Peach b2b Jay
DJ Boring b2b NYRA
Esa b2b HAAi
Collen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy
Soundway Records b2b Sofrito Sounds
Apr202018| April 20, 2018
Independent labels hate it, punters are on the fence, but what about the people it was intended for?
The annual circus that surrounds Record Store Day, as it stumbles bloated into its second decade, is as loud as ever. We know how dissatisfied independent labels are with the production bottlenecks and price-gauging that the event encourages. We also know that, for the most part, Record Store Day helps independent retailers keep food on the table.
Record buyers can also be a funny bunch. Some lament the day as being a betrayal of the true collector, who believes ‘every day to be Record Store Day’. Others feel like it doesn’t go far enough, lamenting instead the paucity of buyable exclusives, and the prevalence of touts, flippers and sharks. Not to mention the high prices, long queues, and low self-esteem of a morning spent squabbling for Bowie picture discs.
But what about the shops themselves? Is it worth their while? Do they even get a say? It is for them, after all. We returned to the source of the debate to find out just how three established independent record shops are feeling as RSD turns 11.
How much preparation is required ahead of RSD?
Natasha, Resident Records (Brighton): The preparation that goes into it is phenomenal. To be fair, as I’m involved in stuff behind the scenes as well, the work is pretty much all year round. In terms of shop preparation, it’s weeks and weeks of work. Some of that is of our own making though, as we like to do everything properly. We believe in the detail and like to put in extra effort to deliver the best version of this event that we can.
Patrick, Piccadilly Records (Manchester): We start the prep before Christmas, and then for the whole month leading up to the day that’s pretty much all we’re doing behind the scenes. In a lot of ways the preparation is actually harder work than the day itself.
Trevor, Tiny Record Shop (Toronto): Leading up to the event itself, it’s like any other event that you’re going to throw, it needs preparation, attention and planning. Without that, it’s going to be a mess of day. We avoid that. We start planning a couple of months in advance to line up what bands are playing that day and who our sponsors will be for beer and food etc. People are generally excited to be part of it.
What does the day itself look like from the shop’s point of view?
Natasha: It looks like a hell of a lot of work, a hell of a lot of stock and a hell of lot of risk. It’s exhausting and slightly terrifying in the build up. Then, on the day, it looks like a hell of a lot of work, a hell of a lot of coffee, a hell of a lot of customers and a hell of a lot of fun. It genuinely is the best day of the year. A real adrenaline rush. Tangible reward for effort put in.
Patrick: It’s kind of jovial chaos really. We need all the staff (as well as a few ringers) behind the counter, so we’re all tripping over each other and forgetting who we’re serving. The queue starts before noon the day before and ends up going all the way around the block until it meets itself. Once we’re open, we’re faced with all kinds of haphazard lists covered with arcane markings and tiered requests. It’s also a load of fun though, with DJs and live acts keeping us entertained throughout the day, and friends on hand to keep us going with brews and cake.
Trevor: There is usually a line outside for those who wants the exclusive RSD titles, then the doors open and people have at it. We sell lots of records right away. We’ll have bands starting at noon and play each hour until around 4PM. Beer and food will be severed during this time too. The shop will normally have a sale on new vinyl items that are not part of RSD to entice people to come down and buy not only RSD titles but regular vinyl issues as well.
How about afterwards… what are the consequences for your shop?
Natasha: We do tend to burn out if I’m honest. We always have to remind ourselves and the team that it’s not about getting through the day, it’s about getting through the week afterwards and beyond. The time when the buzz and the adrenaline has worn off somewhat but when we are still crazy busy. RSD isn’t just one day anymore. It’s a good two weeks for us.
Patrick: Well, it helps us pay the wages for a start, and enables us to take more risks stocking interesting and forward thinking records during the rest of the year. Obviously we end up with some stock left over after the day, but that just helps to spice up the January sales.
Trevor: Afterwards we look at our sales and congratulate ourselves for a well planned event and a great sales day, all worth that prep we put into it with our wicked team that we hired to work the event. Take a deep breath, have a beer and grab a broom.
What’s the most frustrating thing about RSD?
Natasha: 1. The Naysayers. The day’s not for everyone. It can’t be. If it’s not for you, steer clear of it and leave it to those who do enjoy it.
2. Inaccurate information from suppliers and labels – being told that a release is going to be a picture disc or a coloured vinyl, and then it arrives as a standard black vinyl for the same price but without the demand to go with it. I personally don’t care what colour my music is but many people do and we buy (non-returnable) stock on that basis. The price is never reduced accordingly.
3. People piggy backing on the event to put out releases that aren’t special in anyway just to chase sales and profile.
4. Labels and suppliers keeping stock back to sell to wholesalers / from their own sites / from other territories. Fair enough if they haven’t sold it through to then use these channels to clear stock, but shops have their RSD orders cut in order to fulfil these other channels even though the stock is supposedly only being made for our event. If you’re making it for us, let us sell it! If it’s not for us, it’s not for RSD.
5. Some of the prices are eye-wateringly difficult to justify and we as shops end up looking bad and greedy. That’s obviously not the perception we want to be leaving anyone with, especially not new customers or those being introduced to the world of indies for the first time.
Patrick: Probably the amount of reissues. While it brings a lot of different customers and collectors into the shop, the lack of new music means there isn’t a lot to excite our regular customers.
Trevor: One thing that frustrates us about RSD is some of the titles that are offered and the supposed limitedness of them. They tell you it limited to a certain amount and you order it in and people are excited, and then shortly after that they release a readily available version of that same record . It only cheats the fans who buy this stuff and is wickedly short sighted.
Another example is last year when all the Spacemen 3 reissues came out and all the shops ordered them up and were excited. Then the week before RSD the band went on the record to tell fans not to buy them because they weren’t sanctioned by the band and the manager did it without their permission. Great story and thanks a lot for the sweet promo on that record, as it sits on our shelves forever because fans don’t want it now.
What’s the best thing about it?
Natasha: 1. The atmosphere in the shop on the day and the buzz in the build up to it too. The feedback from customers about their experience.
2. The profile it offers us – both as individual shops and as a sector. We don’t get much attention the rest of the year.
3. The way it brings our sector together. We are all independent businesses but this gives us a platform to work together as a collective. It gives us an opportunity to meet, talk and share. It’s easy to work in a bubble when you’re an indie.
Patrick: It brings new customers into the shop, has a positive impact on sales obviously and helps to put some attention on the hard working record shops out there – generally spreading the musical love.
Trevor: Getting to throw a wicked party and having so many people pass through the shop that wouldn’t normally come here. It’s open to families, so it’s nice to have the kids out enjoying the live music while the parents enjoy the beery beverages. Watching people buy music in general is fun, I love seeing the look on someone’s face when they find something they’re looking for.
Finally, would you like to see it continue?
Natasha: Yes, absolutely… but as with any event like this, it needs to evolve. It needs to listen to the shops it was designed for, and address their current needs and the issues they face on the high street today. Retail is a very different beast to when the event was set up 11 years ago. We need labels, suppliers and customers to work with us all year round to keep our businesses exciting and vibrant and to help us become more resilient. The support, communication and attention needs to be continuous – not just for the one day.
Patrick: We’d like to see it improve. Now that there are reissues every week, and a lot of the high demand items have been done, the labels need to look beyond reissues to create some truly special releases for RSD. Otherwise there’s a risk it’ll put off the regular customers and vinyl fans who make the shops what they are.
Trevor: Sure, I’d like to see it continue. As long as you can make it work for you and to your benefit, it can always be a fun weekend for music fans.
Apr182018| April 18, 2018
The best of this year’s exclusives.
In recent years, response here at the office to the Record Store Day list has followed a familiar pattern: mild dread, followed by irritation, followed by a sense of emptiness.
Piercing the black wax clouds of needless reissues and major label sewage clogging your favourite indie shop for the next few weeks are a few rays of gleaming vinyl sunshine. 25 rays to be precise.
To help you make the most of your time in the queue, we’ve highlighted the releases to make a bee-line for and just why they might be worth getting out of bed for – focussing on new and archival releases where possible.
Analog Africa deliver a long awaited reissue of Antonio Sanches’ Buli Povo, a 1983 LP which fuses the far out Funaná funk with synth, African rhythms and Portuguese instrumentals. His eerie sci-fi funk track ‘Pinta Manta’ opened the label’s fantastic Space Echo compilation back in 2016.
Sounds of the Studio
The kind of niche release Record Store Day was made for, London jazz label Gearbox Records gain access to UK sculptor supreme Antony Gormley’s “cathedral-like” studio to capture the sounds that emanate from the hammers, grinders, fans and welders involved in making the magic happen.
Brian Eno with Kevin Shields
‘The Weight Of History’ / ‘Only Once Away My Son’Opal
Brian Eno teams up with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields for this double a-side affair, which includes new track ‘The Weight of History’ alongside their 2017 collaboration ‘Only Once Away My Son’.
‘Zen Drums’/’Dada Drums’
Bibio takes a left turn for a 12” of new material released by Warp on RSD this year, crafted from live drums and synthesizers. Produced in collaboration with calligrapher Timothy Dickinson, each of the 1,000 copies is hand-painted and utterly unique. Talk about zen.
Né La Thiass
An essential reissue of Cheikh Lô’s 1995 cassette, produced in Senegal by Youssou N’Dour. Not a record we were previously familiar with, this one hasn’t left the turntable since, fusing Mande, Wolof and Congolese music with Lô’s passion for Cuban rhythms. Gentle, persuasive, melancholy, and deeply spiritual, this is a must for fans of Awesome Tapes, Mr Bongo and beyond.
Speaking of which… Mr Bongo delivers two remastered Cymande album reissues, for a double hit of of sunshine-filled soul funk. Though Second Time Around is worth a peep, the more elusive and anthemic Promised Heights is our favourite.
Song Of Innocence
The first in a series of reissues of legendary producer David Axelrod’s Capital Trilogy, Song of Innocence is one of his most continually referenced works, regularly sampled and “celebrated as psychedelic, the birth of jazz-fusion, the harbinger of hip-hop.”
‘Let’s Dance’ demo
(PLG UK Catalog)
As per usual, there are a bevy of Bowie releases this RSD. The highlight is a ‘Let’s Dance’ full length demo version, mixed by Nile Rogers, who also co-produced the original track with Bowie, released on vinyl for the first time. Its B-side includes a live version from a 1983 concert in Canada.
Ed Motta presents…
Too Slow To Disco Brazil
(How Are You?)
The man, nay, the legend Ed Motta takes the Too Slow To Disco series down to Rio for a journey through the country’s chugging AOR underbelly. Hell, the man has 7 copies of Steely Dan’s Aja, so who else would you trust? In his words, before listening, please acquire: “A Hawaiian shirt à la Magnum PI, loafers without socks as in Miami Vice, [and] jump in your convertible and drive under the coconut trees.”
Prelude au Sommeil
Great electronic innovator and madcap experimentalist Jean-Jacques Perrey release his first record, Prelude au Sommeil in 1957, and is presented here on vinyl in its entirety for the first time. “Funeral-parlour Muzak in a mausoleum on the moon”? Sounds like the perfect post-RSD soundtrack.
Marquis Hawkes is no stranger to harnessing the power of almighty soul voices and turning them into exultant house anthems. For this RSD release on Will Saul’s Aus label, he takes on two titans of RnB, serving up a duo of dance floor ready reworks.
‘Take Me I’m Yours’ / ‘You Got Your Hold On Me’
(Soul Brother Records)
A seminal profession of love, delivered in a disco soul package, Mary Clark’s original 45 edit of ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ gets its first official reissue, with the equally essential slow jam ‘You Got Your Hold On Me’ on the flip.
A four-track teaser EP from Rubberband, the long lost 1985 album by the one and only Miles Davis, released later this year. Should this have remained lost? Perhaps… But with Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau slated on the original, this might be the closest we’ll ever come to finding out.
Incontro Al Club Ventuno
More funky, ‘70s facing electro-synth workouts from Naples’ Filippo Colonna Romano aka Modula, who channels his recent VF mix of obscure Italian soundtracks into a homage to the country’s rich and kitsch history of crime b-movies. One of those “off-RSD” releases you’ll need to be extra lucky to find.
These Things take Time
(Night School Records)
A favourite of ours at VF, Molly Nilsson’s debut was first self-released on CD-r in 2008 in true DIY style. Pressed in an edition of 500 on clear vinyl, it’s a captivating introduction to Nilsson’s otherworldly musings.
John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Sky
Mica Levi, Radiohead and Actress collaborator Oliver Coates’ interpretation of the John Luther Adams composition, stripped back to 16 cello parts, played and overdubbed entirely by Coates.
Six reworks from Malian legend Oumou Sangaré’s Mogoya Remixed get released on white 12″ for the first time, including edits by Sampha, St Germain, and Natureboy Flako.
A two-track 12″ of ethereal and delicate new material from maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose album async was one of our favourite records of 2017.
The Body Is A Message Of The Universe
Receiving only one small-scale release on a tiny Japanese label, and sounding like an underwater animé set on Jupiter, Shiho Yabuki’s meditative and serene Japanese ambient album from the 1980s gets its first ever reissue, on breezy translucent pink vinyl for maximum zen.
The first full release for the cult Serge Gainsbourg soundtrack from 1967, which features a short cameo from the man himself in typically louche form. Low slung, smoked-out jazz modes abound in what is a crucial addition to the Gainsbourg canon. Look out for WEWANTSOUNDS’ The Friends Of Eddie Coyle soundtrack release on the day too.
Iceland’s post-rock immortals are overseeing four releases on Record Store Day, with Route One probably our pick of the bunch – capturing the best of the band’s 1332km drive around the island’s epic coastal path, created using generative music software and the stems of the Sigur Rós song ‘ovedur’. The other three include Liminal Remixes, featuring Paul Corley and Alex Somers remixing classic tracks, a new album from the latter, drawn from his experience scoring Captain Fantastic, Black Mirror and more, and a deleted EP from frontman Jónsi & Alex.
Studio One Dub Plate Special
(Soul Jazz Records)
Soul Jazz Records collects 10 rare and unreleased dub plates from legendary Jamaican label Studio One, for this special 7″ box set, featuring tracks by Alton Ellis, Cedric Brooks, Brentford All Stars and more. Look out for a brace of other box sets from the label also out on the day.
The American Dreamer OST
(Light In The Attic)
The soundtrack for a documentary about Dennis Hopper’s surreal film The Last Movie, reissued for the first time on red vinyl with an 18×24 film poster.
Taking the first decade in its stride, Erased Tapes releases a new compilation that’s crafted in the communal spirit of the label. Recording twenty exclusive songs in Berlin, expect input from big hitters like Nils Frahm, Rival Consoles, and Kiasmos. The 3LP set is housed in a bespoke white box with a photo book that documents the recording process.
Straight out of Melbourne’s cracking contemporary jazz scene (Familiar to fans of Hiatus Kaiyote and Rhythm Section’s recent 30/70 LP), WVR BVBY’s self-titled debut blends more spiritual elements of the modern sound with hip-hop referencing in-the-pocket grooves.
Apr172018| April 17, 2018
“Our record shops once were oracles, temples, energy centres for all kinds of music and youth movements,” says Garth Cartwright, whose new book chronicles the diverse history of the UK record shop. From the Jewish immigrant communities of ’30s Whitechapel to Sheffield’s Warp-affiliated FON and the Stern’s West African record shop to the modern day and the enduring appeal of spots like Honest Jon’s and Spillers, David Katz joins Cartwright on a journey to discover what makes these places so special.
Where would we be without record shops? As portals to a sonic universe, they have introduced us to the soundtracks of our lives, the specialist knowledge of proprietors yielding scrolls of wax that illuminate hidden aspects of the world we inhabit. As gateways to the vestiges of shared musical experience, they have brokered countless lasting friendships and a fair few marriages too. Many outstanding British performers are intricately connected to them, including The Beatles, Shirley Bassey, Dusty Springfield and Elton John; Bowie said his teen apprenticeship at A. T. Furlong in Bromley first revealed how shiny round discs of flat black plastic could strongly affect people’s behaviour, and described working in a record shop as a vocation on par with the teaching profession. Often run by independent smallholders that are as passionate about the music they stock as their customers, record shops hold a special place in the British psyche, being crucial markers of popular culture and social interaction.
“The history of UK record shops is a great, great story — so important that it should be a source of national pride,” says Garth Cartwright, the New Zealand-born, London-based author of Going for a Song: A Chronicle of the UK Record Shop. “I can see some people thinking, ‘Say what?’ But our record shops once were oracles, temples, energy centres for all kinds of music and youth movements. The best record shops allowed for people to gather and share wisdom. You didn’t go to them just to spend money and return home with a record—no way! They were places of learning, teachers in the true Sufi sense.”
The book begins with a profile of Spillers of Cardiff, which began selling pre-recorded music on wax cylinders in 1894 and is still going strong some 124 years later. We find HMV opening on Oxford Street in 1921, Levy’s of Whitechapel servicing the East End Jewish community and visiting seamen with “100,000 records always in stock,” and Dobell’s becoming a West End haven for jazz, blues and folk from the mid-1950s, with Bob Dylan making a clandestine contribution to a Dick Farina album in its basement.
Manfred Mann’s future lead singer, Paul Jones and bluesman John Mayall have youthful music epiphanies at shops in Portsmouth and Manchester, and writers Val Wilmer and Peter Guralnik are similarly moved at The Swing Shop in Streatham. As the book progresses, there are increasingly surprising connections: picture a young Charley Harper of the UK Subs buying a Prince Buster album from a shop in the Oval after having seen him live at Brixton Town Hall, the Clash’s Paul Simonon scoring bluebeat from Desmond’s Hip City in Brixton, Brian Eno bagging Doris Duke and Steppenwolf at Musicland on Portobello Road, the Pama Brothers selling The Moody Blues along with ska at their tiny Kensal Green shopfront, and Morrissey discovering Attack releases at Paul Marsh’s in Moss Side.
“I see the best record shops not just as retailers but collaborators in creating great music, in a manner akin to how the best recording studios and producers and engineers — they help focus and shape and inspire creativity,” continues Cartwright. “And as there is no book that looks at the great record shops and the forces they unleashed—forces that helped shape music making across the 20th Century — I had to write it. From music hall and dance bands, trad and modern jazz and the early ’60s blues and mod bands through to ska and reggae, punk and disco, techno and dubstep, they’re all linked to specific record shops.”
The book goes on to chart the changing face of the country’s record shops during the mod, psychedelic and jazz-funk heydays of the ’60s and ’70s, as well as the rise of reggae and punk shops during the ’70s and ’80s. Then come grassroots affairs catering to significant immigrant communities, as represented by Stern’s West African Record Shop, ABC Music, catering to Asian customers in Southall, Haringey’s Trehantiri, serving Greek, Turkish and Kurdish patrons, and the Albanian Shop in Covent Garden. When hip-hop culture takes London by storm, Groove Records plays a big part in fanning the flames, and Sheffield’s FON later gives rise to Warp Records.
Cartwright emphasises that immigrant outsiders often brought shops and labels to prominence. “Going for a Song details a secret history of British and Northern Irish music making,” he suggests. “For example, so many of the greatest record shops were owned by Jewish families — from Levy’s to NEMS to Stern’s West African Record Shop — but this has never been discussed before. Brian Epstein’s granddad fled the pogroms in Lithuania and arrived in Liverpool aged 19 in 1896 and opened the first NEMS in the early 1900s. The story of NEMS’ rise to becoming the most powerful record shop outside London is a great one, and it was overseen by Brian Epstein. And without Brian and the connections he made in London via NEMS, The Beatles would never have got a record deal.
“Then there’s the Irish community and the West Indians and the Indians and Pakistanis; all these immigrant communities settled in the UK and not only did they set up restaurants, but they all opened record shops! People talk about the UK’s amazingly multicultural food scene; well, how do you think the music grew so strong and fertile? Because the youth here were listening to the music that their new neighbours were playing. And where did the likes of Georgie Fame and George Harrison and Brian Eno and Jerry Dammers go to get the sounds that changed the way they made music? From record shops in immigrant communities.”
Of course, the tale has not only been one of smooth sailing. Going for a Song traces the East End gangsters that pawned thousands of stolen records through corrupt shopkeepers and the exploitative nature of labels spawned by certain niche concerns. Worse still is the unprecedented rise of the chain-store conglomerates that homogenised the musical landscape of the 1990s, and the terrible and seemingly unstoppable demise of the record shop in the new millennium, as file-sharing, illicit downloads and online retail took their toll. And then, the surprising postscript of the present, which has seen the record shop rise like a phoenix from the ashes, galvanised by the unwavering loyalty of vinyl junkies and the realisation that phonograph records have sonic and tactile qualities that can never be replaced by digital audio.
The independent record shop now seems on more solid ground that at any time in the last decade, with shop closures no longer commonplace and survivors firmly embedded in the musical and commercial ecosystems. And despite the errors of misguided major labels and mega-chains, Cartwright knows that British record shops will endure.
“Record shops certainly have benefited from the vinyl revival and a renewed appreciation of going to a specific shop to get your music,” he emphasizes. “But first I’d like to consider this: what killed the big chains like Virgin and Our Price in the first place? It seems that the general public reached peak CD at the start of the new century and grew tired of buying so many turkeys; duds with only one good tune on a 70-minute album all determined that consumers stopped paying for shit sonic sandwiches. At the same time the youth chose to download rather than purchase music. Great shops like Honest Jon’s, Soul Brother and Supertone all survived because they had loyal clientele and kept a strong vinyl presence. And it is to these aforementioned shops that the new shops must aspire if they want to survive.
“I’m a realist and aware that the vast majority of music fans are happy to stream or buy a CD at the supermarket. That won’t change – this is the same demographic who shopped at Our Price or taped off the radio rather than buying records. We will never return to the days of a record shop on every high street. What the new and surviving record shops have is a core audience who love not just music but realise that going to a record shop is a ritual of sorts: even if you’re buying a mainstream album from Spillers in Cardiff rather than Tesco’s, then you are choosing to engage in holy communion. You are paying more and supporting an institution that trades only in music, which is in itself a statement. And the kids who grew up on Napster found they had thousands of tunes on their phones but, finally, so what? One 45 can convey so much more than a thousand MP3s. The difference between going to a record shop and using Amazon or iTunes is the difference between slow food and fast food. You want real flavour? Then use a record shop!”
Going for a Song is published by Flood Gallery Press.
Apr172018| April 17, 2018
“The only people who are really happy are the major record companies who continue to prop it up with overpriced singles and needless pic discs.
US reissue label Numero Group has criticised Record Store Day for becoming a “marketing event designed to generate traffic by pushing manufactured rarities that scrape off the chaff from deluxe edition CD bonus material and flaunt their first-time-on-wax status while remaining no less unessential.”
Sharing the essay in a recent Numero Group newsletter, the label said: “Over the past decade we’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with Record Store Day. What started off as a clever way to support independent shops during a physical and sonic recession has blown up into an unwieldy grip-and-bitch fest. Lines, fights, flippers, backed up pressing plants, stock shorts, stocking and pricing at 4am the morning of, and that inevitable mark down bin filled with all manner of wasted petroleum and bad ideas.”
This is, of course, not the first time that Record Store Day has come under fire from independent labels. In 2015, Sonic Cathdral and Howling Owl released a joint statement saying the RSD was damaging small labels. It’s a tension that Numero also touch on, where the event does serve to support independent shops, while also benefitting majors in the process.
“The only people who are really happy are the major record companies who continue to prop the whole charade up with overpriced singles and needless pic discs. The stores make their nut and keep the lights on for another year. Rinse and repeat.”
Instead of diving in once more, Numero Group have elected to release two new records on the standard Friday release date, which will be available at their Chicago pop-up on Saturday 21st April.
Watch our short film inside Numero Group below:
Mar192018| March 19, 2018
A one-day celebration of independent music and culture.
Launched in 2017 as an independent alternative to Record Store Day, The Run Out will return next month for another one-day festival celebrating the independent music community in South London and beyond.
Taking place at Copeland Park, Bussey Building and Rye Wax record shop in Peckham, The Run Out will be centred around a label market featuring a selection of independent enterprises including Rhythm Section, YAM Records, Local Talk Records, Strut Records, Hyperdub Records, Wavey Garms, Done London and On the Corner.
Peckham Cuts Dubplate Shop will be releasing a selection of bespoke cuts available only on the day from Lorenzo Senni, Banoffee Pies Records, Don’t Be Afraid, On the Corner, Strut Records, !K7 Records, Happy Meals and more.
Building on last year’s DJ line-up, The Run Out will also feature live music from Tyree Cooper, Beatrice Dillon, Kwake Bass, Happy Meals, Medlar, and Bbz London, while a line-up of workshops, talks and screenings will take place in Rye Wax record shop, featuring a selection of VF-curated music documentaries.
Open between midday and 10pm (with an after-party til 4am), The Run Out will take place on Saturday 21st April. Join the Facebook event to find out more.
Photo: Sybil Gillespie
Mar132018| March 13, 2018
Hop and roll.
The Flaming Lips have teamed up with Dogfish Brewery for a limited edition Record Store Day 2018 vinyl, filled with the beer that “inspired” the songs on the record.
100 of the 2000 copies of ‘The Story of Yum Yum and Dragons’/’Pouring Beer In Your Ear’ 7″ will contain the limited the pink Dragons & YumYums ale.
Billed as “the first beer with its own theme song”, this isn’t the first time beer has been pressed into vinyl. Nor is it the weirdest, with human ashes, blood and dinosaur bones all getting entombed in wax.
Mar062018| March 6, 2018
With over 500 records to choose from.
Record Store Day has revealed its official list of exclusive vinyl releases for 2018.
Though several rumoured lists emerged over the past few weeks, only a handful of these titles were confirmed in advance including 3 Bowie records, a Stone Roses demo, Led Zeppelin 7″ and a 10″ featuring tracks from Sufjan Stevens’ Call Me By Your Name soundtrack.
Highlights include Miles Davis’ lost 1985 album RubberBand, Serge Gainsbourg’s complete La Pacha soundtrack first vinyl release, a new 12″ from Ryuichi Sakamoto called ff2, a remix LP of Oumou Sangaré’s album Mogoya featuring a Sampha rework, and Japanese composer Shiho Yabuki’s 1987 The Body Is A Message Of The Universe.
Noteworthy compilations and live recordings include Soul Jazz’s Studio One 7″ box set featuring 10 previously unreleased tracks from the legendary Jamaica studio and Congo Revolution – African, Latin, Jazz And Funk Sounds From The Two Congos (1957-73), The Streets’ Remixes & B-sides on 2xLP for the first time, and an archival Sun Ra live show from 1988.
As ever, the 11th edition of Record Store Day does not include smaller independent label releases also on offer.
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16-18 Marshall Street
London W1F 7BE
Registered in England and Wales under no. 04184222.