Record Store Day Is on the Way!
by Kevin Wierzbicki
The spring 2023 edition of Record Store Day takes place on Saturday April 22 and brick & mortar record stores across the nation will once again have tons of new collectible vinyl titles that will only be available in store. There will be something for everyone; exclusive titles this year will feature everyone from Eric Carr of KISS to weirdo Captain Beefheart, from Ol' Dirty Bastard to E-40 and from Emerson, Lake & Palmer to Lacuna Coil. So will Peter Tosh, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Charlie Parker, Ringo Starr, the Mars Volta and hundreds of others. We've received a few titles in advance to tell you about.
Music from the Motion Picture "How to Train Your Dragon 2" - Music by John Powell
Here's the soundtrack to this Academy Award-winning animated film from 2014. John Powell's score is brought to life by a 120-piece orchestra (including bagpipes from the Red Hot Chili Pipers) and a 100-voice choir; together they set the scene for the trials and tribulations of protagonist Hiccup and his dragon Toothless, some movements whimsical like the absolutely magical "Valka's Dragon Sanctuary" and the sublime and amusing vocal number "For the Dancing and the Dreaming" and some fraught with peril, like the overture "Battle of the Bewilderbeast." Sigur Ros completists will want this title in their collection as it features a rocking version of "Where No One Goes" featuring vocals by Jonsi. A 2-LP set pressed on red vinyl with multicolor spatter and housed in a gatefold jacket with new liner notes from film director Dean DeBlois.
Hotel Jolie Dame - Various Artists
Here's a very cool compilation from the folks at Jazz Dispensary. The record is ostensibly about a 1978 visit to a hotel on the French Riviera but that'll have to be all in your mind; the place doesn't and never has existed. But you can use your imagination as you check in while digging cuts like the Side A opener, a breezy instrumental from Triste Janero with the perfect title of "A Beginning Dream" followed by the Latin-flavored Opa cut "Tombo/La Esquela/Tombo/The Last Goodbye," another instrumental. Actually, with only a couple of exceptions, everything here is instrumental, and Side A finishes with a psychedelic, funky and swinging cut from Dizzy Gillespie (with a killer solo from the trumpet master) called "Ozone Madness" that leads into the side's finale, a sublime slice of soulful pop from the Blackbyrds called "Summer Love" that is one of the vocal numbers here, although the singing is understated. There is something exceptionally cool about the vibraphone, especially when played by Cal Tjader, and he kicks off Side B with a take on James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." Next comes Flora Purim's "Light as a Feather," originally found on her 1973 release Butterfly Dreams.
Featuring Purim's ethereal voice, the cut is the compilation's most notable vocal number. Side B ends with the gentle psych pop of Jean-Jacques Perrey's "In the Heart of a Rose" and appropriately, the jazz groove "There's a Small Hotel" from harpist Dorothy Ashby. There are lots of psychedelic touches on this set, and after all, this is a journey of the mind. Pressed on "Psych-Sunset" orange marble vinyl.
Muddy Waters - Hollywood Blues Summit: Live at the Ash Grove July 30, 1971
This live show from legendary blues player Muddy Waters has never before been released. Recorded in Los Angeles on what was undoubtedly a hot summer night, Mud raises the temperature further by beginning the show with Little Walter's sassy instrumental "Juke" before putting his emotive growl to work on the Willie Dixon classic "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" which is also a showcase for his guitar playing. Muddy plays four of his own compositions here including the strutting "Blow Wind Blow," the slow blues of "Honey Bee" that features piano from Pinetop Perkins and slide guitar that evokes a bee preparing to sting, the harmonica fiesta of "Walkin' Through the Park" and "Long Distance Call" where Muddy portrays a man hoping for a call from a cherished lover. Sonny Boy Williamson's slow and smoky "Strange Woman" is also covered and the show ends with the upbeat classic "Got My Mojo Working."
Phil Ochs - The Best of the Rest
Folkie and political activist Ochs left us nearly 50-years ago; in a funk of alcoholism and mental illness, Ochs took his own life. The 20 tracks collected here are all rare or unreleased with 17 of them being demos he made for Warner/Chappell in the mid- 1960s. On the surface it might seem that this compilation would be for Ochs completists only but in fact The Best of the Rest
offers well-written songs with insightful commentary in a style that will be familiar to fans of acts like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Some of Ochs' keenest observations appear in antiwar cuts like "The Men Behind the Guns" and "Sailors and Soldiers" and particularly in the facetiously-titled slam "Here's to the State of Mississippi." Tongue-in-cheek favorite "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is included and the presentation ends with a version of "The War is Over" from a 1967 radio broadcast along with "All Quiet on the Western Front" from 1969 and a take on "No More Songs" from a 1970 rehearsal session. Most songs feature just Ochs and acoustic guitar but he plays piano on "No More Songs."
Record Store Day titles are generally produced in limited quantities so fans are advised to get to the store early on April 22. For a complete list of titles that'll be available (selection will vary by location) and to find a participating retailer near you go here.