Record Store Day’s Most Wanted: From Taylor Swift to Charles Mingus

Face the facts: you are never, ever getting that Taylor Swift exclusive Record Store Day release that is coming out today. Fifty million Swift fans can’t be wrong, and about a tenth of them seem bent on landing the 10,000 copies of a 7-inch single of “The Lakes” that is going on sale at indie retailers today as part of the annual holiday for music geeks. Actually, “on sale” may be a bit of a misnomer, as many stores have decided to hold raffles later in the day for the handful of copies that they each got in (if they got any at all), which does serve the purpose of diffusing the mass angst over not getting a copy. But try to achieve some zen calm, and remember: with this particular two-sided single, it’s already online and you can always stream it. (Yes, those are traitorous words on Record Store Day.)

But if you were planning on picking up the Swift single for a loved one, why not consider one of the 300-plus alternatives also coming out for RSD today as a consolation prize? How nearly equally happy will your daughter be to get the new five-LP boxed set from avant-jazz great Albert Ayler when you arrive home? How about Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett’s new solo EP to assuage the tears of a disappointed aunt? Cypress Hill’s “420 Remixes” or Dio’s “Double Dose of Donington” or a five-disc Dead live performance, or a little something from Gong, L.A. Guns or Golden Smog could be just the thing to turn your Swiftie grandpa’s frown upside down.

But in all seriousness, do consider some of these 2022 highlights, none of which are going to instigate a raffle but all of which are worth your dollar before they, too, go out of stock. As always, RSD is a deep lake to dive into.

(Note: Some of the titles that were announced for this Record Store Day cycle, including Pearl Jam, Prince and Miles Davis, were delayed and will be released as part of an adjunct RSD event on June 18. Check the full listings here to see full information on all titles and see what’s coming in two months as well.)

Taylor Swift: “The Lakes” – 10,000 copies

Even the fact that many stores are setting up a separate lottery for this one doesn’t mean it should be left off the list. Neither version of the bonus track from “Folklore” included here is previously unreleased — not even the alternate mix of Jack Antonoff’s that came out as a streaming-only alternate (“original”) version last year. But it’s worth commemorating that a relegated-to-the-deluxe-version track for Swift would constitute an A-game A-side for almost anyone else.

Joni Mitchell: “Blue Highlights” – 9000 copies

Mitchell’s camp put out an excellent boxed set capturing demos, outtakes and alternate versions from her “Blue” period last year, but when it comes to these kinds of massive historical collections, we understand that there are those who get overwhelmed and think, “Please curate it just a little more for me.” That’s what Mitchell herself has done — at least she’s credited with having input on the track list — with the vinyl-only “Blue Highlights,” which selects 12 of the recent box’s choicest cuts. Highlights include the augmentation of French horns and strings on “River” and “Urge for Going,” respectively (arrangement touches she eventually thought better of in 1971), and the augmentation of James Taylor on previously unheard collaborative versions of “A Case of You” and “California.”

Lou Reed: “I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos” – 7550 copies

One of this year’s most hotly anticipated RSD releases, due to it already having been released and then very quickly pulled as a streaming-only release at the close of 2021, undoubtedly for the purpose of 50-year copyright recertification purposes. (See (see Variety‘s report on that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment here.).Who knows if it was always the label’s intention to put this out as an official album, or whether it was the delighted interest that fans took in the fleeting shadow release that led to this coming out. Probably the former, since vinyl does take a while to get through the pipeline. This set of solo demos from Reed’s very first post-Velvet Underground sessions includes selections that ended up being re-recorded for the albums “Lou Reed,” “Transformer,” “Berlin” and “Sally Can’t Dance.” The chance to finally own them will make for a… well, you know what kind of day.

Various artists: “Portraits of Her” – 2000 copies

Here’s a Swift-related disc that may not be quite as difficult to find as her “Lakes” single, although, with 2000 copies, it won’t be ubiquitous. Represented on this collection by the feminist “Lover” track “The Man,” Swift is part of a squad, as it were, and a good one, whose ranks also include the Swift-approved Girl in Red, Julien Baker, Joy Oladokun, K. Flay, Julia Michaels, Leyla Blue, Asiahn, Laura Jane Grace, Banks, Princess Nokia, Alice Longyu Gao, Bully, JBoyish, Mariah the Scientist and Girl Ultra. Proceeds (and of course awareness) go to We Are Moving The Needle, a nonprofit supporting women breaking their way in tough-to-crack industry fields like audio engineers and producers.

Everly Brothers: “Hey Doll Baby” – 4500 copies

This is the kind of themed collection of previously released material ithat Record Store Day really excels at. Liner notes on the back of the LP sleeve explain the specifically intent: “This compilation was curated with an eye towards celebrating the deeper rockabilly tracks and some great covers, with a small emphasis on hits.” The writer of that jacket essay? Adria Petty, who doesn’t just help put together the releases from her dad Tom’s estate, but who worked on selecting this attention-refocusing Everly Bros set, with help from Don Everly, when he was still with us, and Phil Everly’s widow. “Cathy’s Clown” starts off side 2, but otherwise this obscurities-filled single LP makes a case for the brothers’ greatness to a young audience that may not know them by pointing out that they could walk the rocker line as well as be balladeers.

“Blue Velvet (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Deluxe Edition)” – 4500 copies

Previously, the “Blue Velvet” LP soundtrack had been limited to a single disc, but it expands to a double now with 60 minutes of additional music, including not just the addition of the Bobby Vinton title song, which somehow got left off the original record, but previously unreleased outtakes and alternate versions of the Badalamenti score. Variety contributor Tim Greiving wrote new liner notes based on interviews with the creators and stars; the cover recreates the (possibly controversial) Italian poster art for the film; and the discs are on marbleized vinyl of a you-know-what color.

Darlene Love: “Darlene Love: The Many Sides of Love – The Complete Reprise Recordings Plus!” – 2500 copies

Love’s career hardly ground to a halt when her association with Phil Spector did more than a half-century ago. Her sides in the 1970s and beyond are mostly obscure even to fans, so this collection does her justice by collecting 15 rarities or obscurities, including her rare singles for the Reprise label with the vocal groups the Blossoms and the Wildcats, plus her solo work going forward from there, like a 1985 Elektra recording of “River Deep, Mountain High,” which reclaimed it from Spector going outside the camp to assign it to Tina. The Real Gone label has done a beautiful job of assembling the physical package as if it’s something that really did come out in vinyl LP form back in the day, between the vintage graphics and a tip-on jacket. And within the sleeve comes a four-page insert with a delightfully long essay by Joe Marchese of the essential website

Albert Ayler: “Revelations: The Complete ORTF 1970 Fondation Maeght Recordings” 650 copies

Speaking of liner notes: Has any musician in the world had an assortment of tribute-payers assembled in his honor in a booklet quite as eclectic as the late jazz great Ayler? It’s not just jazz cats paying him homage. The copious liner notes include essays by or interviews with figures like Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Carlos Santana as well as Sonny Rollins, Carla Bley, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, etc. Although a bit of the material saw release previously, this is all two-plus hours of the sessions spread across five LPs in a trifold jacket in a deluxe slipcase. Sax master Ayler, of course, represents the freer side of jazz that was emerging prior to his 1970 passing, so prepare to have your mind and genteel sensibilities blown. As a side note: Only 650 copies? Yes, it has a higher price barrier than most releases here, and yes, Ayler’s fantastical wildness makes him not as much of a mainstream magnet as Bill Evans…  but at that quantity, this may still turn out to be the “The Lakes” of jazz releases this RSD.

The Jackson Five: “ABC” – 6500 copies

The spot in line you save may be your own. Although the emphasis in this roundup is on releases that either contain previously unreleased material or that repackage the existing in some informative way, there’s no denying the value of a straight classic-album reissue, especially when it’s something that has been a staple of the battered-and-beat-up 25-cent bin for so long.

The Grateful Dead: “Wembley Empire Pool, London, England 4/8/72 (Live)” – 8000 copies

This one is really for flippers — no, not the eBay kind, but just those who don’t mind turning a record over a lot or moving on to the next one to get through a classic Dead set that spreads across 10 sides and five discs. Previously, fans had to buy the “Europe ’72: The Complete Recordings” boxed set to get this, but it’s been broken out into a separate release to honor the 50th anniversary of a key tour in the band’s history.

The Replacements: “Unsuitable for Airplay: The Lost KFAI Concert (Live)” – 10,000 copies

The ‘Placemats’ recent “Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash” boxed set was worth the price of admission just for this live show, captured in their hometown of Minneapolis when they were still working on their debut album. A substantially high number of the songs never made it to a Replacements record, and not because they weren’t worthy, but because Paul Westerberg was just that prolific out of the gate. This soundboard recording of the band — in much, much tighter form than you might assume for a group still in its youth — also includes knowing covers of Slade, the Kinks, the Heartbreakers and Dave Edmunds.

Bill Evans: “Inner Spirit: The 1979 Concert At The Teatro General San Martín, Buenos Aires” – 4000 copies
Bill Evans: “Morning Glory: The 1973 Concert at the Teatro Gran Rex, Buenos Aires” – 4000 copies

Evans is the jazz patron saint of Record Store day, and when Resonance Records makes it rain with previously unreleased Evans recordings, it makes it pour. For the first time, the label is putting out two Evans concerts on one RSD, because there’s a big tie-in between them— both are ’70s shows from Argentina, albeit with different trio lineups and utterly distinct setlists. Both feature the usual elaborate Resonance packaging and not-to-be-beaten, world-class liner notes; each includes fresh interviews with the surviving players from the bands in question (Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell from the ’73 show, Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera from ’79) as well as star pianists who can speak to Evans’ style and history (Enrico Pieranunzi, Richie Beirach). The ’79 show includes an unusual setlist ranging from “I Loves You, Porgy” to “Someday My Prince Will Come” to “Theme From MASH.” As usual, both sets will come out on CD soon enough — in just a week, actually — but the relishable vinyl editions are the quickly snapped-up collectibles.

Charles Mingus: “The Lost Album From Ronnie Scott’s” – 3000 copies

Beyond its twin dive into Evans rarities, the Resonance label dips into Mingus territory for the first time with this three-LP set capturing a previously unreleased recording of the legend performing in London in 1972 (the band: alto saxophonist Charles McPherson, tenor saxophonist Bobby Jones, trumpeter Jon Faddis, pianist John Foster and drummer Roy Brooks). The usual elaborate liner notes include rare photos and fresh interviews with everyone from Mingus scholars to current jazz great Christian McBride to… Fran Lebowitz? Yes, the famed writer was a good friend of Mingus’s.

Betty Harris: “The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul” – 1500 copies

Even if you don’t know the Harris name — and the “lost” in the title forecasts that you may well not — who wouldn’t cotton to recordings that feature the backing of a proto-version of the Meters, who were first assembled by Allen Toussaint to back her? With such a limited quantity, this may well turn out to be the sleeper that Record Store Day habitues wish they hadn’t slept on. Also, and this is no small bonus nowadays: the green vinyl pressing comes with what has become all too much of a rarity these days: an accompanying digital download card.

Jay Bennett: “Kicking at the Perfumed Air” & “Whatever Happened I Apologize” with the film “Where Are You, Jay Bennett?”

A mixed-media bonanza: Two of the ex-Wilco member’s solo albums, on vinyl, are combined with a documentary film about the late musician that was too quietly released last year, now on DVD. That makes for a pretty substantial combined teaser if you need something to get you in the mood for a massive upcoming “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” 20th anniversary boxed set… or, with the doc, to help explain why he left.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: “Acoustics” – 6550 copies

When you think Jett, you don’t think unplugged, so the prospect of hearing “Bad Reputation” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You” in as close to folked-out form as they’re going to get is intriguing. The collection also includes Jett’s cover of the Replacements’ “Androgynous.”

Scott Walker: “Boy Child: The Best Of 1967-1970” – 2500 copies

This best-of was previously available as a CD and single-disc LP in 1990, but the latter left off a big part of the track list. This reissue doubles up on the vinyl and goes so far as to add tracks that weren’t on the digital version, either. A newly commissioned liner-notes essay from Jarvis Cocked tops off the ones written for the 32-year-old edition by Marc Almond.

David Bowie: “Brilliant Adventure EP” – on CD and vinyl; no quantities given
David Bowie: “Toy EP (You’ve got it made with all the toys)” – on CD and vinyl, no quantities given

Bowie, a posthumous stalwart of RSD, has been absent from the last few rounds of releases but returns to the Record Store Day fold with two releases, both of which are on CD (a welcome sight for people who want to support the day but haven’t jumped back on the turntable bandwagon) as well as vinyl. In alignment with the recent “Brilliant Adventures” boxed set, this exclusive EP of the same name will include four unheard songs from the “Outside” time frame — including “Johnny Downloader” (!), a new-to-us, early version of “I’m Afraid of Americans” — plus two tracks performed by the star with pianist Mike Garson at a New York Public Theater fundraiser in 1995. The “Toy” EP includes an unreleased, stripped-down version of “Shadow Man,” two previously unreleased live tracks from 2000, and three other numbers previously available only in streaming form.

Karen Dalton: “Shuckin’ Sugar” – 2000 copies

For the cult that adores the late folk singer, news that the Delmore label obtained three reel-to-reel recordings of Dalton performing in 1962-63 is a godsend. Pressed by Third Man and including a vintage-style tip-on jacket, “Sugar” has among its dozen tracks six that no one has heard her sing on record before, and a substantial eight-page insert includes unseen photos and a new 6,000-word essay.

The Muffs: “New Improved Kim Shattuck Demos” – 1200 copies

Shattuck tragically passed away after battling to work on a final Muffs album; now, demos for the group’s “Really Really Happy” album are presented for the first time, with liner notes from longtime musical partner Ronnie Barnett that are sure to make us deeply wistful.

Ramones: “The Sire Albums (1981-1989)” – 10,000 copies

They wanna be collated: The punk progenitors’ six 1980s albums, which are said to have been out of print on vinyl practically since that era, are packaged together in a numbered slipcase with a bonus LP of rarities pressed on neon pink splatter vinyl.

Blondie: “Sunday Girl EP” – 3000 copies
U2: “A Celebration” – 7500 copies

Both these releases offer multiple variations on a theme — to be specific, distinct versions of the same classic song. The formats are different, though: Blondie’s is a double 7-inch single in a gatefold package, and U2’s quartet of variations comes on a single 12″ disc. “Sunday Girl,” from the essential ’79 “Parallel Lines” album, will be found in the original single version, a French translation, a 1978 demo version and a live track from 1979, pressed on yellow vinyl. U2 is old hands at doing this sort of thing, regularly gracing RSD with multiple versions of the same song. Their 40th anniversary EP includes the original “A Celebration” plus a previously unreleased studio alternate version, B-sided by the studio “Trash, Trampoline and The Party Girl” and a 2015 unreleased live version of that tune.

Kirk Hammett: “Portals” – 6500 copies on vinyl, 7500 copies on CD

It’s not anathema to throw a compact disc in here — in the general sense, they’re “records,” too, and RSD officially aims not to discriminate among formats, although CDs are very much the exception among exclusives. Metallica’s Hammett is a big RSD supporter and wanted to offer his debut solo EP as an exclusive to the day in both that and the vinyl format (it’s also available as a digital download). Only one of these comes in a dreamy blue, of course, or allows the chance to examine the artwork Hammett says was influenced by his love of Hipgnosis covers without squinting. (For more on Hammett’s and Metallica’s 15-year support of Record Store Day, read Variety‘s report on a panel this week with Hammett and Robert Trujillo here.)

Foo Fighters: Making A Fire (Mark Ronson Re-Version)” b/w “Chasing Birds (Preservation Hall Jazz Band Re-Version)” – 9500 copies

So maybe this single from the Foos is a little too esoteric in concept to become nearly the collectible that the Bee Gees cover set they released for RSD last year instantly did. But it’s still intriguing: They gathered some friends together to come up with alternate arrangements of a couple of their songs (on the A-side: imembers of the Dap-Kings, the Budos Band, Antibalas and the Tedeschi Trucks Band; on the B-side, Ben Jaffe, Charlie Gabriel, Clint Maedgen, Walter Harris, Branden Lewis, Ronnell Johnson and others). And, obviously, you may want to set an empty place at the table, or the turntable, in spinning this one.