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Record Store Day's most curious releases: A list of vinyl to chase

April 19, 2013|By Randall Roberts | Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
  • The cover of Cheech & Chong's "Earache My Eye" single, which will be reissued for Record Store Day.
The cover of Cheech & Chong's "Earache My Eye" single,… (FridayMusic )

The annual music geek holiday known as Record Store Day arrives Saturday, and with it precious rewards for the fans and collectors looking to hold in their hands music that could be easily heard for free on the Internet. That, of course, is missing the point. 

One of the great mom-and-pop merchandising success stories of recent times, Record Store Day sees music retailers across the world celebrating the joy of shopping for limited edition music on vinyl. This year’s bounty includes stuff by David Bowie, Elliott Smith, Rhye, Captain Beefheart, Sharon van Etten, Steven Malkmus and the Jicks (covering Can’s classic  album “Ege Bamyasi”), the White Stripes and hundreds more.

Los Angeles is in the middle of a record store renaissance, as illustrated by the 26 participating retailers in L.A. County. They include mega-store Amoeba in Hollywood; Vacation Vinyl and Origami in Silver Lake,  Gimme Gimme, Mount Analog and Permanent in the Highland Park/Eagle Rock area, VIP Music in Compton. Expect long lines at each participating shop.

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Hundreds of records are being released in conjunction with Record Store Day, and among them are works by the hottest hipster bands, the hardest punk bands, the biggest dinosaur bands, the grungiest hard rock bands of the '90s, the deepest jazz artists and so on. 

As a way of illustrating the breadth of the endeavor, below are some of the most curious, obscure and/or strangest offerings. (Note: Not all participating retailers will be stocking all of the releases; call stores in advance to confirm.)

Chet Atkins, “Black Jack” EP. The genius country guitarist offers four songs, courtesy Sundazed Records.

The Beat Junkies, “Picture Disc Collection.” Influential turntablist crew delivers picture discs of some of its classic beat-juggling and jams.

Between the Buried and Me, “The Parallax” and “The Parallex II” vinyl box. Metal Blade delivers the North Carolina prog-metal band’s sequence of concept albums from 2011. 

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Blind Melon, “Blind Melon” and “Sipping Time EP.” Some of us would like to speak with anyone longing for “Blind Melon” on vinyl. A true head-scratcher.

Joe Bussard, “Guitar Rag” backed with “Screwdriver Slide.” Legendary folk and blues collector offers two sides of classic American music, courtesy Tompkins Square.

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, “Frank Freeman’s Dance Club and Other Rarities.” When the influential California iconoclast performed in England in 1968, the DJ John Peel drove him to the dance club of this release’s title. A rare recording brought to life. 

Cheech & Chong featuring Alice Bowie. “Earache My Eye” b/w "Turn That Thing Down.” Pressed on marijuana green vinyl (of course), this 45 rpm record corrupted many minds when released in the ‘70s. 

The Dave Brubeck Trio, “Distinctive Rhythm Instrumentals” 10” EP. Classic batch from jazz interpreter. 

The Doors and X, “Soul Kitchen” side by side. Dueling versions of the Doors’ classic from its originators and, a decade-plus later, the Los Angeles punk band.

Bob Dylan, “Wigwam” (demo) b/w “Thirsty Boots” (previously unreleased). Two lesser-known takes from the singer.

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Flaming Lips, “Zaireeka” vinyl box. In order to fully appreciate this, you need to synchronize the records on four different turntables to play simultaneously -- which is awesome, but virtually impossible -- which of course is why this is a must-have.

Jerry Goldsmith, “Poltergeist: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.” Full reissue of the composer’s eerie score from 1982.

Jandek vinyl box set. Three rare LPs from the Houston outsider singer/guitarist, whose mysterious output has continued for more than three decades.

Kill Rock Stars cassette box set. Three classic Northeastern post-punk/indie collections that set the conversation in the '90s, recorded onto tape.

MGMT, “Alien Days” cassette. Yes, this is a trend: cassette reissues and cassingles. This is a previously unreleased track from the Rhode Island duo.

Non-Phixion, “I Shot Reagan.” MC Serch (3rd Bass) teamed up with three fellow New York rappers to create this intense hip-hop in the early '00s.

Conny Plank, “Rework Sessions.” Important German producer who worked with Kraftwork, Brian Eno, Neu!, Devo and many others is feted in this tribute.

“Rockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of the White Stripes.” Essential nutrition for budding rockers. 

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