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Black Friday – Holiday Record Hunting

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Black Friday – Holiday Record Hunting

The last Saturday in April has, at least for the last four years, has been designated as the (now) global celebration of independent music, locally-owned record stores, musicians, fans and collectibles known as Record Store Day (RSD). The day after Thanksgiving has long been known as Black Friday and kicks off the holiday shopping season with a flurry of sales, specials and all-consuming madness for many normally-sane people. This year the two collide, with a number of releases for record-geeks available on Black Friday; has this already-manic day become “Record Store Day Part II”?  In a word, no.

The premise and intent if RSD is to celebrate music, fandom, local and small business, rarities, and quite honestly the music-geek in general. Artists and musicians release special and rare material, generally available in very small quantities. Fans flock to their local record-store and vie for a spot in line to snatch up their favorite rarities and gems, comparing accomplishments and bringing in much needed business to the independent record shops in their community.

This year Black Friday could be known as “Re-Release and Re-Package Day” (with a few notable exceptions to be discussed in just a moment) for the casual music observer with a number of releases that may attract new followers to the cult of Record Collecting. However, before purchases are made on Black Friday it is important to research and evaluate what one is really purchasing.

Take for example Nirvana’s Nevermind – The Singles, a collection of the 10″ official singles from Nevermind housed in a numbered slipcase. With the recent release of 180-gram vinyl 20th anniversary “Super Deluxe” reissue of Nevermind barely a month previous not much is to be gained, as a fan, from this release other than more records for the collection and  a pretty box. For long-time fans/collectors the purchase of these singles may represent the fourth or fifth iteration of these songs…how many times will they be trotted out in new packaging before fans have finally had enough?

John Lennon’s 40th anniversary box set of Imagine will be on white vinyl and boasts six remastered tracks and a poster. There were 10 tracks on the original album, and although the white vinyl thing is kind of cool, why would fans want to pay a hefty price for an incomplete album on white vinyl? This seems strictly a marketing ploy, with little-to-no deference for the music, or for the fans.

Numerous examples of this trend will fill the shelves on Black Friday, it is important to note that the majority of these releases are from the heavy-hitters in the industry, from large corporations and not necessarily with any input from the artists.

Now, as mentioned previously there are some notable exceptions to the Black Friday sales, Janis Joplin’s box set Move Over will include some all new picture sleeves and six never-released tracks and two rarities. This is the type of release we music lovers and fans should expect for our hard-earned dollars, and the type of release generally reserved for RSD.

Type O Negative will release a box set on Black Friday that will surely send collectors scrambling, the set includes all Roadrunner released Type O Negative albums. Each will be issued on double green vinyl with the album art  as well as new liner notes documenting the genesis and completion of each album. This is a “Holy Cow!” moment as many long-time fans and collectors know that finding all of these albums in any sort of playable condition is impossible, and with the death of Peter Steele in April of 2010 this seems like a good time to put get the music back out to the fans.

With all the hustle and bustle associated with Black Friday some of the releases (ahem…LA Woman singles box-set) seem to be the same product fans have previously purchased and cherished and loved. Some will argue that new fans are born every day and they too need the chance to hunt up their favorites on vinyl and on this point we can concede. However, distinct differences stand between RSD and Black Friday both in quality and in the intent; as consumers and as fans it is important to educate oneself and ensure your dollars are spent wisely.

For a full listing of Black Friday releases check out, truly some gems are to be found while a few lumps of coal got tossed into the mix as well.

Written by Meredith Underhill