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Record Store Day 2018 Part One

May 10, 2018

I remember my first Record Store Day (RSD). I don’t remember the specific year – it could have been the first or second year of the event. I showed up at the Electric Fetus at about 3:00 in the afternoon, only to learn that things were picked over. Since then I have learned you need to get up early on a Saturday morning and wait in line. Just like back in the day when you had to wait in line for concert tickets (yes some people sleep over). RSD is the definition of the cliché “the early bird gets the worm.” Fortunately, my wife thinks it is fun to wait in line for RSD, she makes sure it is on our calendar and participates in “the sport.”

Several weeks before RSD “the list” is released. The list is the inventory of exclusive limited releases that will be available. There is a count for each release on the list. The closer the number is to 10K means it will be pretty easy to acquire and the closer the number is to 1K indicates it is going to be a crapshoot. I study the list several times. Eventually, I highlight and prioritize my wish list. Typically there is at least one elusive selection (that closer to 1K quantity I just mentioned) and one or two budget busters (multi-disc boxed sets).

The Electric Fetus, my favorite record store, knows how to throw a good Record Store Day: they are well-organized, have food, portable outhouses, live music and most of all a great selection. Over the years the Fetus’ RSD inventory has consistently allowed me to retrieve 90% of my wish list (assuming I am in line by 5:30 A.M.).

This year my wish list was topped by two Grant Green archival albums (rare at 1500 copies each)  and a Chris Robinson Brotherhood live set (rare at 1200 copies and expensive since it is a 4 disc set). I acquired two of the three (one Green and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood) and a few more selections (see above photo if you can’t endure several wordy posts to get to the punchline).

Grant Green – Slick! Live At Oil Can Harry’s

When I first reviewed the 2018 RSD list I highlighted two Resonance Records releases by Grant Green. Resonance Records is a nonprofit; per their website:

Resonance Records is a division of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, a California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created to discover the next jazz stars – passionate, brilliant musicians from around the world. We assist and support them through recording, performance opportunities and distribution of their art. Every Resonance CD and DVD is produced without compromise, to create and preserve our artists’ jazz legacy

Resonance is focused on unreleased archival recordings of jazz greats. One of my favorite albums is an NPR radio broadcast of a Jaco Pastorius concert issued by Resonance. One of Resonance’s marketing gimmicks is to issue high quality limited edition LPs for RSD followed by the CD release a few weeks later. Resonance releases are not on streaming services and has been a very reliable label for me.

Before RSD 2018 I read a review of the albums in the Green LPs in the Wall Street Journal:

In an era often belittled by jazz fans, guitarist Grant Green spearheaded a movement that expanded hits in innovative ways

I was hooked. I had to have these two Green releases.

On the morning of RSD 2018, I had my usual case of nerves about my wish list. With only  1500 copies of each of the Green LPs – it was going to be dicey. I got everything on my list, but the Grant Green LPs at the Fetus. They had one copy of each, but they had been nabbed before I had my chance, even though I was number 33 in the queue, which meant I was up at 4:30 A.M.

After the Fetus we (my daughter had now joined my wife and I in the festivities) continued to pursue the Green LPs. We then hit up Cheapo, Fifth Element and Hymie’s – no luck. We then headed over to St. Paul to Barely Brothers and scored Slick! Live At Oil Can Harry’s. One down, but Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes (1969-1970) would remain elusive. We tried Agartha – no luck (they had a copy of Slick too). We checked out Caydence Records & Coffee – no luck. We headed home to regroup. I called Mill City Sound and Solid State – whiffed. The last try was Rock Paper Scissors Goods – again a swing and a miss.

But I don’t want to obsess on what was lost, but what was found. Slick! Live At Oil Can Harry’s is a great album and represents everything that is wonderful about RSD: a buried treasure of a recording, high quality wax, quality packaging, an artistic revelation and it is rare.

I have noted before that lite jazz is a challenge to pull off. Most often it is cheesy and only occasionally it is brilliant. Grant Green is one of those rare lite jazz musicians who can create masterpieces. Technically Green predates the lite jazz era and comes from the soul jazz era. He laid the foundation for what was soon to come.

This live set, from late in Green’s career was recorded at Oil Can Harry’s in Vancouver BC Canada on September 5, 1975 (Green passed in 1979). It is a good sample of his career.  Side A is a Charlie Parker song, “Now’s the Time,” that Green plays as bluesy bop.  Side B is a Jobim song, “How Insensitive (Insensatez)” that Green plays as bluesy bossa nova.

So we have a theme here: bluesy. Green is bluesy. I use that term because he is not playing straight blues, but allowing the blues vocabulary to form his take on jazz standards.

When we get to the second platter, Green goes somewhere else. First he is not using jazz standards, but contemporary jazz rock, soul and funk hits of the time (mid-70s). He does this in a medley format over sides C and D. The first platter is easy listening jazz, platter two is more adventurous, but completely accessible.  Side C’s medley starts with jazz rock icon bassist Stanley Clarke’s “Vulcan Princess.”  It then moves into Ohio Players “Skin Tight.”  The side finishes with Bobby Womack’s “Woman’s Gotta Have It.” Side D is Stevie Wonder’s ” Boogie On Reggae Woman” and the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money.”  I made a playlist of the originals and it is a viable playlist – especially sides C and D.

This is the best of what I like about RSD: being introduced to an artist I am only vaguely familiar with and being motivated to take a deep dive into that artist’s catalog. I thought I knew who Grant Green was; I assumed he was a minor league version of Wes Montgomery or George Benson. Now I realize he is an amazing underrated jazz guitarist who should be on the same pedestal with those titans. Not only is he a great player, but he has exquisite taste. Expect to hear more about Grant Green as I explore his catalog.

Wilco – Live At The Troubadour 11/12/96

The re-release of Wilco’s first two albums late last year was the best, but being the obsessive completest that I am, I was disappointed that the vinyl version of Being There did not include the 1996 concert that was part of the CD release. RSD 2018 filled in that blank with a vinyl release of Wilco – Live At The Troubadour 11/12/96.

This is the first official release of their November 12th, 1996 performance at Los Angeles iconic Troubadour, considered as one of Wilco’s essential live recordings. It has long been bootlegged and circulated among fans. It lives up to the hype.

Wilco’s first album, A.M., is one of my favorite albums. But Jeff Tweedy freely admits A.M. was not a Wilco album, but his half of an Uncle Tupelo album. It wasn’t until the next album, Being There, that Wilco became Wilco. This concert is from the Being There era. It is a thrill to have a live artifact (vinyl to boot) from a defining moment, of one of my favorite bands. Thank you RSD 2018. Stream starts at track 35.

Miles Davis Rubberband EP

Per RSD 2018 website:

In 1985, Miles Davis shocked the music world by moving from Columbia Records to Warner Bros. Records and started recording Rubberband. This album marked a radical departure for him, with funk and soul grooves, and was to include vocals by Al Jarreau and Chaka Khan. The album was subsequently shelved and Davis went on to record Tutu.

Rubberband’s title track has been updated and remixed by its producers, with vocals by R&B / jazz singer Ledisi. Randy Hall and Zane Giles also finished the original version for this exclusive 4-track Record Store Day EP. The cover artwork is a painting by Davis. Worldwide run of 6000.

RSD has long been a PR tool to tease a future release. A whole album release is on the cards for later this year.

Per JazzFm.com:

“It was fat grooves, really funky, Miles talking. It was street and funky and dirty. We didn’t go after writing a great jazz song, Miles wanted the street thing; he wanted the chord changes he wanted to play. The basis was to take it to the street like ‘On The Corner’, it was Miles taking more chances,” said Hall.  Giles added, “Miles kept saying ‘I don’t wanna do my usual stuff. I wanna do something different.’”

By today’s standards this reimagined version has a hip hop vibe. The EP ends with the original version of the song and I have to admit the remixed version is an improvement.

Neil Young: Roxy – Tonight’s The Night Live

Neil and his label Reprise co-opt RSD by issuing a vinyl version of an album that was being released on CD and streaming services anyway. All the same, it is a treat to hear Tonight’s The Night in a different context. Somehow Neil makes his maudlin classic fun. I assume it was the cocaine or tequila.

The back story is that Neil and band had been recording Tonight’s The Night in the late summer of 1973. They initiated a new LA club, the Roxy, over three nights (9/20-22) playing the live debut of nine songs that would eventually appear on 1975’s Tonight’s The Night. Per Young:

“We really knew the Tonight’s The Nightsongs after playing them for a month [in the studio], so we just played them again, the album, top to bottom, without the added songs, two sets a night, for a few days. We had a great time.”

It was and is a little bit of magic. A great cherry on the top of one of Young fan’s most beloved albums.

That ends part one – I have more records to digest!

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From → Music Reviews

4 Comments
  1. Very cool and interesting. What a haul. I’ve been on a Tupelo, Wilco, Volt, Tweedy binge. Reading your piece the ‘Oil Can Harry’ thing caught me. Anyways these clubs seem to have the same names in different cities. Long story short. I use to sneak into Oil Cans as an underager. That’s where they were playing the cool music as your GG buy proves.

    (Different note. Is it ok if I borrow your Temple Grandon take? I have a new little thing I’m doing. You will get your full credit and residual from CB. Won’t be for a few weeks).

    • Cool you have been to the Oil Can club. Feel free to use the Temple Grandon thing.

      • Yes I have. OilCans, The Cave. Lasseters Den, The Body Shop, Rohan’s Rockpile … The music scene in Vancouver back in those days was awesome (in fact it has always been good). I remember seeing Eddie Jefferson in some little shit hole and I was early teens. I guess they wanted the business. Eddie was great. Education for CB.

        Thanks on the Temple thing.

      • McCaslin has worked his way onto my spin list. Thanks.

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