There are many reasons to applaud Record Store Day (RSD): it puts a marginal format at the forefront of cultural discourse and is fundamental to keeping record stores afloat. There are also many reasons to pour hate on RSD: the exploitative pricing; the pressing plants clogged up by major labels’ seemingly frivolous cash-ins; the queues; the disappointment in not scoring all that you were hoping to on the day. (Side note: surely consumer demand is robust enough to sustain a Record Store Week?).
Like many vinyl enthusiasts (and like last year), I swore I wouldn’t do RSD this year. Too many coloured vinyl pressings (which can sound poor – but not always) and picture discs (which definitely sound poor). And yet there I was: 10:30 am, at Dussmann Das KulturKaufHaus, jostling for prime digging position among fifty other greying, middle-aged dudes (and a few young’uns). A shame that elbows were more abundant than manners.
Dussmann isn’t some grubby side street operation. There’s room inside to swing more than one cat and there’s no musty smell to contend with. This is a slick, multi-level a bookstore that also happens to be one of Berlin’s largest independent music retailers.
Up high on the wall display: The Cure’s Mixed Up and Torn Down have been pressed for RSD 2018 as picture discs, echoing last year’s Greatest Hits and Acoustic Hits releases. I took a pass. The black vinyl is coming next month.
Top of my wants list this year was the Abbey Road cut of the Amorphous Androgynous’ The Isness. I couldn’t find it. Luckily, Dussmann came through with The Future Sound of London’s other RSD release, a 20-year anniversary re-imagination of the My Kingdom EP.
Chances are high that Tom Waits’ Bastards, Brawlers and Bawlers will be pressed to black vinyl later this year but when you’re a rabid fan, when you missed out on the original box set release and when newly remastered pressings are staring you in the face on RSD, you don’t hesitate, even when they are coloured vinyl. This is Tom Waits – the greatest songwriter the world has ever known. (Zero apologies to Dylan fans).
The same hesitant-free approach fell to Giant Sand’s Provisions (another piece o’ coloured vinyl), largely because Howe Gelb is one of the most underrated songwriters the world has ever known. A must hear for Waits and Dylan fans.
Bowie Now is a cut-n-shut of ‘Heroes’ and Low. I already own all the music on this single LP several times over. And this is an RSD exclusive sure to come to black vinyl later in the year. But I’m in Berlin partly because of Bowie. Hansa Tonstudio is but a stone’s throw away. I bought Bowie Now. And you know, the white vinyl is playing on my Technics SL-1200G as I type this and oh by jingo, does it sounds superb.
Bowie’s other big RSD release this year is Welcome To The Blackout – a hitherto unreleased live show from 1978 pressed to three slabs of black wax. Plenty of copies available at Dussmann in Berlin. Did I take a pass? Did I hell.
Further information: Dussmann