Why you should hate Record Store Day and love these records

 16 Apr 2016 - 15:32

Why you should hate Record Store Day and love these records
 

My distaste has nothing to do with the product. Records are, along with hardcover books, stick shifts and the Lettura 22, our last stand against the shimmering hologram that has become our modern industrial entertainment complex. 

The issue is why we need to focus on the third Saturday of April. Record Store Day should be every day. And proper collecting isn't about throwing down $36 for 180-gram vinyl or special picture discs, though neither need be scoffed at. 

It is about wanting to hear a song or an album without having to scramble for an iPod, scour an online store or fire up a search engine. (Or, worst of all, listen to an ad.) It is about appreciating the new Devo reissue but also knowing that where Creedence is concerned, a crackly edition of "Bayou Country" will do just fine. So in that spirit, here are a few records I think you should own today. 

- Thelonious Monk: "Monk's Music" 

Monk is the only grown man who can look cool sitting in a child's wagon. Then there's the music. Put the needle down and you'll get a solemn hymn that slides into the 11 minute-plus jam of "Well, You Needn't." Favorite moment: When Monk shouts "Coltrane" and the saxophonist, somehow not listed on the front cover with everybody else, kicks into a swirling solo.

 

- "The Boston Creative Jazz Scene 1970-1983" 

Now here's a release designed to never make money! This box set documents an obscure and delicious corner of jazz history. There's funk, spoken word and an 80-page book to boot. The beauty of this box is in the discovery, the idea that innovative, unpredictable, fun jazz was being created outside New York and after the 1960s peak associated with the avant-garde.

 

- The Feelies: "Only Life," "Time for a Witness" 

OK, this is cheating -- two records for one band -- but it's impossible to choose between these reissues. "Only Life" is mesmerizing, jangly and will remind you of punching out capsule reviews for the college newspaper. "Time" is electric and groove, the band's Velvet Underground fixation taken to another power. 

 

- Sturgill Simpson: "A Sailor's Guide to the Earth" 

This gets props just to encourage all music companies to make sure to release vinyl along with the typical virtual formats. I also appreciate, on these new releases, that there will typically be a download code or a CD inside so that those of us who love bringing the music along can quickly download. Simpson, to the uninitiated, is just about the best county music has to offer, which is more important in these post-Merle days. 

 

- "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel"

I was interviewing Chuck D and he lectured me on the fact that I probably didn't know all the names of the Furious 5. Thinking fast, I had a quick response. (Though, sadly, it wasn't reeling off Cowboy and Mr. Ness.) I told Chuck I was 10 years old when they broke. I don't know the names of all the guys in the Doobie Brothers either. But Chuck made it clear that not having "Wheels" was like not having "Pet Sounds," "Goldberg Variations" or "A Love Supreme." And he was right. I picked up a copy quickly on eBay and understand. Flash blasts through Chic, Blondie, Queen and a slew of other songs live in the mix. You can almost feel what it was like to be watching him work well before anybody had heard of Yo! MTV Raps. 

 

- Merle Haggard: "A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or, My Salute to Bob Wills)" 

There's a lot of Merle you should be listening to, decades of special songs he wrote and recorded. But I've always loved this ragged tribute, which features Merle on fiddle and a few of Willis' remaining Texas Playboys. What the record loses in technical virtuosity it makes up for in spirit and enthusiasm. 

Washington Post