Written by 4:42 am Audiophile Music

Massive Reductions! Record Store Day Overstocks Priced Right!

Mark Smotroff gets a second chance to get some releases that used to be expensive as Record Store Day bargains emerge…

If you’ve been reading my columns, you know that I have a sort of love-hate relationship going on with the made-for-us-record-geeks holiday called Record Store Day (RSD).  Mostly love, I will admit.

AR-Sessions64Cover225.jpgI love the event as it was initially conceived to get music fans going back to the brick and mortar record stores. I love the releases, for the most part. I can even cope with the crazy crowds and competition to get the often very limited editions. Its all jolly good fun. 

I’ve even made emotional peace with the legions of eBay flippers who snatch up loads of the RSD releases and immediately put them up on the auction site to make a quick buck — seems a lot of them have been getting the big shaft lately, getting stuck with too much merch, stuff that they don’t really care about. Karma works in magical ways, folks.

But lately, my only gripe — and a gripe echo’d online by many others in the land of music collectors — the prices of the RSD releases have gotten a bit out of hand. So high, its leading many a music fan to think that the industry is gouging, especially when it comes to re-releasing titles that have paid for themselves many times over. 

Throw us a bone, folks. We’re your bread and butter. 

Thou shalt not bite-th thy hand that feed-eth thee…

That said, this past RSD there were a number of cool releases which I opted to not buy simply because — cool as they were — I couldn’t justify the expense. This was especially true in the cases of some of the 45 RPM singles and EP releases.  

Well, it seems I was not alone in that decision and many of these releases have languished on store shelves waiting for a hopeful buyer. 

In at least one physical store, the pricing has changed on many of these items: 1-2-3-4 Go Records in San Francisco has lowered its prices on overstocked RSD releases by 20- to 50-percent! A recent visit there enabled me to pick up two 10-inch releases I’d wanted on RSD, but for a much more reasonable price given the content. Actually, even up on Amazon there are many copies for sale there for a similar price point!

Super Sessions ’64

AR-SessionsPlaying225.jpgThis is a really neat nine-song collection of obscurities produced by Brian Wilson in 1964, all made for Warner Brothers including several previously unreleased recordings. Issued by the good folks at Omnivore Records, the fidelity on this 10-inch album is quite remarkable, in lush stereo with a very big sound. Think the Phil Spector and Brian Wilson Wall-of-Sound style sound without so much of the extreme compression which made their hits jump out of 3-inch transistor radio speakers. 

Side one features tracks by The Honeys, a band featuring Brian’s wife, which issued a number of singles on Capitol Records back in the day (most of which were compiled on a nice CD release in the 1990s and which seems to be selling for crazy coin on Amazon). Side two features tracks by The Castells and The Timers, both of which are classic Brian Wilson-ian compositions. Catchy choruses, verses and bridges. Old school songwriting here, but classic. Vintage pop.  

But its the sound on this stands out on this release. This thing sounds pretty huge! For comparison, I put on my original mono pressing of The Beach Boys’ All Summer Long collection — recorded several months after these tracks, but (likely) at the same studios — and the sound is positively boxy in comparison. That album sounds good but its all pulled in terms of dynamic range and such, so you really have to turn things up loud to get any sense of bass out of the thing.  In contrast, the tracks on Sessions ’64 are round and full, very much not sounding like a Capitol Records production.  Warner Brothers was a different label so perhaps they had an alternate vision as to how these recordings would go out to the universe at the time. They sound great to my ear.  

And of course, the cool thing for me is that the price was right on this one. Had it been the original $17 price point, I might well would have been less enthusiastic in terms of my view of the price-entertainment value ratio. But for the $8.99 I spent on it, that price was spot on perfect given the material’s vintage and such. At most, this should have been a $12 release. 

There are copies going for as low as $8.49 on Amazon last we checked.  

The Animals #2

The second RSD EP reissue by The Animals was originally priced at a more realistically $12.99, granted it only features four songs (in contrast to the nine on Sessions ’64). Thus at 50-percent off, the $6.50 I spent on the four songs there is a GREAT deal. Pressed on deep plain black, well centered and thick vinyl, the record is apparently a reproduction of one of no-doubt-impossible-to-find UK 10-inch originals issued on Columbia Records in the UK. Some early tracks by The Animals are on these EPs, which is almost accurate label wise (they replace the Columbia name with ABKCO, the name for the label started by infamous legal big wig Allen B. Klein).  Its a cool thing the put this out. And at a the very reasonable price I paid for it, the EP is a great value and a no brainer purchase. 

It sounds really great too, spinning at 45 RPM.  the songs are all killer early blues-rock with singer Eric Burdon at his swaggering early best singing “I’m Not In Love,”  “I’m Mad Again,” “Bury My Body ” and “She Said Yeah.”  

Hopefully you’ll have a chance to get one of these gems before they disappear.  

They were “limited edition” releases, after all! 

Happy Hunting!

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