I’m not one to usually get up and get on the line for Record Store Day; I’m more than content to head over to my local shop a few days later and pick through the remains, or order online. But the last few weeks have been a hotbed of anxiety, and I’ve been relying more and more on music in order to detach and decompress (hence the massive influx of incoming vinyl). So this morning I roused myself, showered, and with a hot cup of coffee took myself down to Needle + Groove Records to see if I could nab the few titles I was interested in.
I arrived to a small line around 7:45am. Most folks were masked, which eased my anxiety somewhat. I get nervous with protocol for anything I’ve never done before – what’s the right amount of time to browse? Should I bring cash – will that be easier for the store? Should I ask for something if I don’t see it, or should I leave everyone alone since it’s busy? This is par for the course with my brain in pretty much every scenario. I usually default to a method of quick and quiet efficiency: get in, find the essentials, pay and get out. For something like this I’m really there to support the store, and the best way I can do that is to not bog them down and stop more people from coming in and buying. It’s courtesy, and it works nicely with my pressing need to not be around a lot of people at once, so when I was allowed in I did exactly that.
The great thing about my particular shop – besides the fact it focuses on great stuff – is that the former manager is now their buyer. If you’ve ever been to Needle + Groove you’ve probably seen Amanda there, and if you have you know that music is her life’s blood. Looking for something? She’ll find it and order it for you. Back during the pandemic she was even taking orders online and if you lived in the area would drive them to your house. A few weeks back when she posted asking what folks were looking for I left a note of the things I was interested in. So it was no surprised that within about 5 minutes of getting in I found everything I was looking for and then some. Let’s get into it:
The Damned – Strawberries: I’ve been on a huge Damned kick lately; after a steady diet of Sex Pistols, Ramones, and the Clash for years I finally started digging into other punk bands and the Damned immediately leapt to the front with their ability to evolve and embrace different styles. Strawberries was the last record with the core of Dave Vanian, Rat Scabies, and Captain Sensible (Sensible would jump ship after this for a number of years) and really begins to push heavily into goth and new wave. Everything still rocks, though, and next to the Clash I don’t know of a punk band with this strong a run of records, do you?
Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse: Opeth was the band that pulled me back into metal, full stop. With some exceptions my 20s was largely spent in other genres. But then somewhere I heard Morningrise by Opeth and my brain blew up. Metal had changed again when I wasn’t looking (or listening) and I fell back in and never really looked back. My Arms, Your Hearse is probably my least favorite of Opeth’s “observations” – to my ears it’s the densest their music has ever been, and doesn’t have the shifts and turns I’ve come to love in every incarnation of the band. So besides the beautiful purple waves on the vinyl, having it in this format will give me a chance to dig in more intently and see if it can change my mind.
Voivod – Angel Rat: The plan was to pick both this and Nothingface up, but Nothingface was pushed to the June 18th RSD drop. No matter, as Angel Rat sounds fantastic (I’m listening to it as I write this), mastered specifically for vinyl by Peter Moore. This was the first Voivod album I ever bought, a used CD at the local record store when I was in college. I remember cries of the band selling out with this release, but listening now they’re just as sonically unique as they ever were. The band at this point may have traded in a certain level of heaviness to explore more prog and psychedelia, and I’m entirely okay with that. Just makes me that much more excited to hear what they did with Nothingface when it comes out in a few months.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Live Seeds: Pure impulse buy. I don’t have a lot of Nick Cave on any format, so a chance to grab a live recording from his earlier era made perfect sense as I was flipping through the RSD releases. With the exception of the next entry, this looks to be the sweetest looking album I picked up: transparent red vinyl with an etching on Side 4, and great pictures of the band’s tour in the gatefold. Also remastered specifically for the vinyl release. If the remaster is anything like the Voivod one, I can’t wait to put this on and play it LOUD.
Punk 45 – I’m a Mess! Punk 45s in the UK 1977-1978: I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick this up, and man I am so glad I did. I’ve heard a number of the previous releases in the Punk 45 series, and Soul Jazz Records always does an excellent job of presenting the music in the best possible way. This edition focuses on DIY self-released singles from the UK during the prime moments of the punk explosion, and IT. IS. GLORIOUS. I’ve already listened to all four sides plus the bonus 7″ included with two tracks from Stormtrooper. There’s not a weak song on it. All that plus extensive liner notes, original artwork, and a download code to boot. If you’re a fan of punk you owe it to yourself to check this out any way you can.
Last but not least, I did have one more item on my wishlist, but it wasn’t a Record Store Day release. The last few times I went into the store I saw they had a single copy of the Drastic Plastic reissue of Music for Pleasure by the Damned. I managed to score a near mint copy of their reissue of Machine Gun Etiquette a few days ago, and knowing the albums were now sold out online I made it a priority before any of the RSD releases to see if it was still there and grab it if it was.
It was, I did, and we’ll definitely review it sooner rather than later.