‘Not sure if you’ve heard the news, but things are a little crazy in the world of supply and demand out there.” So begins the latest news update on Record Store Day’s website.
And assuming you haven’t spent the last month in an underground bunker, you can pretty much guess what’s coming next: “Production issues, customs issues, shipping issues, rights issues, and some pretty comical situations we can’t really get into here, have definitely hit this RSD Black Friday list.”
It’s not unusual for a handful of previously announced Record Store Day titles to fall by the wayside in the weeks leading up to the event. This is, after all, the record industry we’re talking about. But this year’s Black Friday event is taking place during a perfect storm of vinyl supply-chain shortages.
Here’s the problem: There are still less than two dozen vinyl pressing plants in the U.S. — many of which have fallen into disrepair — and less than a hundred in the entire world. New manufacturing equipment is on backorder. So are the lacquer discs that are used to press records. Even the cost of lumber has turned out to be a factor, as budget-conscious homeowners take to putting in vinyl flooring instead of the real thing.
It’s now reached the point where pressing plants are telling indie labels that, if they submit their masters right now, they can expect to have their records in hand by August of 2022.
On the demand side, meanwhile, there’s an ever-growing legion of vinyl fetishists who wouldn’t be caught dead holding a compact disc. Last year saw a 30 percent increase in revenues from vinyl records, with no end in sight, so it comes as no surprise that major labels are exploiting the market in a big way. Sony, for example, ordered a half-million vinyl copies of Adele’s newly released 30 album, while vinyl editions of recent albums by Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and other multi-millionaires continue to flood the market.
The result is that an unprecedented number of Record Store Day releases won’t be reaching brick-and-mortar stores in time for Record Store Day.
RSD exclusives from Kinks co-founder Dave Davies, space-jazz pioneer Sun Ra, a Kris Kristofferson/Lou Reed team-up, Spoon, Swirlies and several other artists are being pushed back to Dec. 10.
Others are totally up in the air, including a Foo Fighters single that pairs “Making a Fire (Mark Ronson Re-Version)” with “Chasing Birds (Preservation Hall Jazz Band Re-Version),” a Latin Legends Live collection, and limited-edition releases from Puscifer, Tesla, Poison, Clairo, Kali Uchis and the Thelonious Monk Septet. At this point, there’s no telling which, if any, of these will come out in time for the holiday shopping season.
Still, there are nearly a hundred Record Store Day releases that will be turning up in shops this Friday, and you can find an updated list at recordstoreday.com. Here are just a few highlights:
When it comes to packaging and content, the hands-down winner has to be Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ 40 X 40, a book-and-record set that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the former Runaway’s Bad Reputation and I Love Rock ’n’ Roll albums. In addition to a 7” single containing both title tracks, it comes with a 160-page graphic novel that features an all-woman team of 40 writers and graphic artists “bringing the songs to life” in the form of 20 stories.
Another timely offering is Norah Jones’ much-needed cover of Alvin & The Chipmunks’ “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” which comes in a 3” single format. Of course, if you wanted to actually play it, you’ll have to invest in an official Record Store Day mini-turntable, which retails at $89.95. Or you can just listen to it on Jones’ recently released I Dream of Christmas album.
This year’s other holiday-themed Black Friday releases include a reissue of The Staple Singers’ The 25th of December, Reverend Horton Heat’s We Three Kings, Jorma Kaukonen’s Christmas (available in Christmas Tree Marble Green and Candy Cane Red & White editions), Teddy Swims’ A Very Teddy Christmas, and J.D. McPherson’s Socks: A Christmas Album.
For the hip-hop fans on your gift list, there’s Lil Wayne & Rich The Kid’s Trust Fund Babies album, Chicago mumble-rapper Chief Keef’s Thot Breaker, and a 2-LP version of Digital Bullet by Bobby Digital, AKA Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA.
Jazz addicts, meanwhile, can indulge in four-LP box sets from Art Pepper and Charlie Parker. Country music fans will find vinyl exclusives featuring Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price and Buck Owens. And cassette collectors can pick up the Avett Brothers Emotionalism, Pink Lincoln’s I Am a Genius and, yes, J.D. McPherson’s Socks: A Christmas Album.
Last but perhaps not least, we come to picture discs, without which no Record Store Day would be complete. This time around, we get Dio’s The Last in Line and Holy Diver, Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears, and Iron Maiden’s Iron Maiden. (What is it with metal fans and picture discs? No one knows.)
Of course, not all record shops will have all these releases, and some might not have any. So if you have your heart set on something special, you can go to the Record Store Day website to find a full list of this year’s participating stores, and then call around to see who has what. Or you could just wait a few hours and bid for them on eBay.