Record Store Day has become a global event and of course, that a good thing. It’s the perfect excuse for vinyl lovers of all stripes to hit up the mom and pops, in search of special new releases. And while I’m stoked to see vinyl making such a strong comeback and being celebrated, it really comes down to the notion that you really don’t need a holiday to hit up your local music shop. So next time you think about snagging some barely audible MP3 off the Russian black market, hit up a proper record store instead, and help keep those sage musical stewards in business.
This time out, you’ll find a clutch of cool recent releases, ranging from obscure ‘60s rock, to punk, indie, metal and a few killer soundtracks for tossed in for good measure—all to check out as you hit the shops.
Heavy Liquid: The Album
With the film release of Gimme Danger and Iggy Pop creating new music this past year, interest in The Stooges seems to be at an all-time high. Heavy Liquid was originally released as a massive CD box set featuring a treasure trove of newly discovered studio tracks that would form the basis for the band’s last ‘70s album, Raw Power. This 2-LP set includes 17 tracks from the set, all remastered and pressed on shiny blue vinyl, and bundled in a deluxe gatefold sleeve pressed on a silver mirrorboard—a fitting tribute to the band of the hour. (Easy Action)
From the greatest band you’ve never heard comes this long-overdue deluxe vinyl document. Formed in the UK during the mid ‘60s, the Creation seemingly had it all—the songs, the show, the image and seemingly, the timing. Pete Townshend was even a fan, and the band also featured future Rolling Stone Ron Wood for a spell. So what the hell happened? It’s a long, sordid tale, part of which gets explained in the booklet that accompanies this double-LP set from the expert vinyl curators at the Numero Group.
The Creation combined the vintage beat sounds of the early ’60s with refined melodies, psychedelic flourishes and loud guitars—as emphasized on its gritty, garage anti-hit “Makin’ Time.” One of the more unique bands of the era, next to The Who and Hendrix, they were also one of the heaviest.
Lasting just two years, the band did manage to crank out several singles and two albums. A few decent and not-so-amazing comps have hit the shelves in the years to follow, as interest in this little cult band has increased over time, but none match this latest collection, at least from a vinyl standpoint. What we get here are two super high-quality slabs, with a heavy gatefold cover and glossy booklet with loads of info and pics. (Numero Group)
Bun E. Carlos
Greeting from Bunzuela
Ex-Cheap Trick drummer struck out on his own last year to release an album full of fruitful collaborations with everyone from Robert Pollard to Hanson. The result was a loud, boisterous set of energized covers culled mostly from the ‘60s, including The Who and Paul Revere and the Raiders. This highly rare vinyl edition came out several months after the fact, and if you’re lucky enough to find one, you’ll appreciate the extra warm, fuzzy guitars and booming beats, courtesy of Mr. Carlos. (eOne)
The Def Leppard E.P.
Several years before MTV superstardom and astronomical production budgets, Def Leppard was a scrappy, young metal combo hungry to make a name for itself in the blossoming UK metal scene. To further the cause, the band released 1000 copies of The Def Leppard E.P. in 1979—complete with Xeroxed lyric sheet in some with a hand-glued cover. Rife with driving riffs, attitude and an endearing sense of naiveté on tracks “Ride into the Sun” and “Getcha Rocks Off”, the E.P. is a key moment in time, and can now be yours via this faithful reissue. (UMe)
Coloring Book Flexi Disc
What do you get when you cross the Kings of Heavy Metal with cheesy ’70s fast food characters? Mac Sabbath! This LA novelty act puts its own special sauce on the classic Sabbath canon, as evidenced in this single’s “Pair-a-Buns.” Part comedy, part social commentary, this svelte little flexi’s a kick, and the coloring book it comes in is ridiculous—an extra-special treat for fans of the Banana Splits, The Archies and KISS…somewhat. (Mockstrosity)
Max’s Kansas City: 1976 & Beyond
Originally released in 1976, Max’s Kansas City was a chronicle of the underground music scene connected with the now historic club by the same name. Featuring early punk and alternative bands like Suicide, The Fast, Wayne County, and Cherry Vanilla, the album has become a classic early punk comp. Now, you can have it served up on two thick red vinyl slabs, with extended art and a slew of tracks from other artists in the scene such as the New York Dolls, Stillettos, The Brats, Johnny Thunders and others. (Jungle Records)
After a killer debut for Fat Wreck Chords a couple years back, CJ Ramone returns with the equally effective American Beauty. Rife with anthemic pop punk with tinges of garage and power pop, the album is sprite and upbeat with big hooks and chainsaw guitars—not at all unlike the band that made CJ a major name in punk circles. Check out top numbers like “Let’s Go” and “Run Around,” plus the bluesy ballad “Tommy’s Gone.” (Fat Wreck Chords)
Among Priest fans, Turbo is often cited as the band’s nadir. It was the mid ’80s and some label suit had the brilliant idea to turn the Metal Gods into the next pop metal sensation, a kind of futuristic Def Leppard of sorts. While the formula didn’t go over all too well, Turbo was a bit ahead of its time, mixing uncanny synths with punchy guitars, anthemic choruses and Rob Halford’s acrobatic vocals, as evident on the corny, but not unlikeable “Turbo Lover.” This 30th anniversary edition offers up the original LP in remastered sound and updated packaging. (Sony)
10 Cloverfield Lane
From ace soundtrack label Mondo comes this plush double-LP in deluxe packaging on red/silver “duct tape” vinyl. Always a scene-stealer, Mondo does some of the best pressings and packaging period. And this one is no exception, showcasing Bear McCreary’s eerie score in high style. Don’t miss out on this highly limited run. (Mondo)
Assassinio Al Cimitero Etrusco
Known in these parts as Scorpion with Two Tails, this early ’80s Italian film has become a cult fave among horror-heads for its violent scenes and eerie atmosphere. It’s score was composed by soundtrack icon Fabio Frizzi, who imbues this one with a surprisingly pretty and upbeat sound selection—which is completely at odds with the amazingly spooky cover art that adorns this limited-edition picture disc. (Mondo)
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Rake It In: The Greatestest Hits
For the uninitiated, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is a cover band and super group of sorts featuring Fat Mike of NOFX and Fat Wreck Chords, Spike Slawson (Swingin’ Utters), Joey Cape (Lagwagon), Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters) and Dave Raun (Lagwagon). Formed in 1995, the band has put out several thematic albums, each with songs that ladder up to a specific theme. This one collects some of the standouts from the entire period.
On Rake It In, we get a rocked-up version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” which is not a million miles away from a far more obscure version by The Wanderers from the early ’80s. There’s also a fun take on the great “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppets, some Beach Boys, Dolly Parton, Billy Joel and a slew of others that are tastefully rendered with big harmonies and stripped-down arrangements. But the best part is the band’s ability to leave the irony and pretension that often accompanies this kind of stuff at the door, making for a unique take on some classic rock and pop numbers. (Fat Wreck Chords)
Before The Flood
Timed to release for both Record Store Day and Earth Day, Before The Flood is the soundtrack to Leonardo DiCaprio’s celebrated film on climate change. In keeping with the complexity of the subject matter, this release pays fitting tribute in a massive 3-LP gatefold package, which is a stunner through and through. The music—which plays a key role in the storytelling—features Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Mogwai and composer Gustavo Santaolalla. Reznor sings lead on the song “A Minute to Breathe” and the intensity of that track is a foundational part of the overall score. (Lakeshore)
Rock ‘n’ Roll E.P.
Glam god Marc Bolan and his band T.Rex get further immortalized in this sweet little 7” E.P. Remastered for vinyl, Rock ‘n’ Roll features two classic covers (plus two alternate versions) that barely saw the light of day at the time—in fact, track “Honey Don’t” was never released during Bolan’s life time. This release also includes a rollicking cover of “Summertime Blues” and comes in a thick retro ‘50s style cover. (Easy Action)
Door Left Open
Sultry soprano chanteuse Scout Paré-Phillips takes us on a journey of reflection and melancholy via new album, Door Left Open. This multi-instrumentalist combines operatic vocals with dark folk music and gothic atmospherics for something completely different. Each song on Door Left Open is a mini melodrama, bringing a mystifying new twist to the singer-songwriter thing—the textural title track being a prime example. (Dais)
Today Is the Day
Temple of the Morning Star: 20th Anniversary Edition
Nashville noise merchants Today Is the Day made quite a racket back in the mid ’90s with its innovative sounds that would turn out to be years ahead of the curve. Blurring genres and combining various elements of metal, jazz fusion, grindcore and beyond, the band was too much for the masses, but did put out some key albums that would prove influential. Released 20 years ago, Temple of the Morning Star would be prove to be one such album and features a heady mix of styles and sounds. This stealth reissue features the original album remastered, plus a second LP of bonuses, including a live set and unheard demos. (The End)
Cygnus X-1 E.P.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rush’s A Farewell To Kings album, the band has released a limited pressing of one of its most beloved tracks “Cygnus X-1 Book I.” If this epic number isn’t enough, you also get “Book II” on the other side of this 12” (originally form the Hemispheres album). Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, this release also features brand-new artwork from longtime Rush artist Hugh Syme. (UMe)
There Will Be No Peace
Heavy, dissonant and atmospheric, The Angelus’ sound recalls of Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen with shades of Nick Cave. Hailing from Texas, the band has created a Southern Gothic gem in the form of There Will Be No Peace, which you can now own on thick-cut vinyl, with an elaborate die-cut cover. (Tofu Carnage)
Upon initially viewing the first Underworld film, I looked at all of the angles before passing final judgment. There were vampires, werewolves, blood, guns, and bodysuits, so I figured, “What’s not to like?” But beyond that was the music, which perfectly complemented all of the action and bombast occurring onscreen. Rather than including the de-facto nu-metal of the day, this stealth soundtrack features the likes of David Bowie, Skinny Puppy, Puscifer and others—which all sound amazing on this heavy new set, reissued on vinyl for the first time. (Lakeshore)
Jean Jacques Perrey
For those in the mood for a far-out good time, look no further than this new reissue. Originally released in 1970, French electronic-music guru Jean Jacques Perrey put out this masterpiece of space-age pop, high-tech gadgetry and swingin’ Sc-Fi soul. Laden with vintage synths (check out the acid-infused “Cat In the Night”), funky beats (“Soul City”) and spacey head-trips (“E.V.A.”). This release was cut from the original master tapes and pressed onto high-quality 180-gram vinyl for super sound. (Vanguard)
Mad Max Trilogy
No matter what you or I think of the bloated racist turd Mel Gibson, there’s no denying the sheer bad-assery of the first couple Mad Max movies. And while the music may not have been the focal point of the films, it comes through loud and clear on this new release. This 3-LP set includes the scores from all three original Mad Max movies in crisp, remastered sound. Each vinyl slab comes in its own color—black, sand and gray respectively—in a limited gatefold package of just 2000 copies. For fans of moody and distinctive music beds and/or Tina Turner, this one’s a keeper. (Varèse Sarabande)
For a film as heavy as Kids is, the soundtrack better be just as wicked. For the most part, that’s the case here. With tracks by The Folk Implosion, Sebadoh, Lo-Down, Daniel Johnston and Slint, it’s a very angsty, ’90s indie affair, very much a design of the times. For fans of the film, the music makes for an eerie companion, and comes complete in either blue, green, yellow or red vinyl. (MVD)
Aussie band Strange Karma’s irony-free take on the hard rock sounds of yore gets a sonic boost on Cold Blooded, a new vinyl-only release. Recalling some of the headier moments of the ‘80s, this oddball little album sounds kind of refreshing during these turbulent times, especially on tracks like the uncanny “Devil From the Moon.” (Strange Karma)
For questions, comments or anything you’d like to see, drop me a note at Retrohead77@yahoo.com. Cheers, Kaz.