Record Store Day 2016: Melbourne Recap [April SotW]
On April 16, fans and artists around the world congregated at local record stores to celebrate that glorious enigma: music. With dust particles rising off faded vinyl sleeves, we sifted through racks of records, united in our quest to plunder these treasure troves like missionaries.
In 2007, Record Store Day (which takes place on the third Saturday in April) was formed to help independent music stores. Its founders reached out to artists willing to release exclusive records, promotional products and perform at record stores. The response was astonishing.
Since then, a plethora of sensational acts from all genres have contributed and this year’s lineup was no different. Foals, Chvrches, Regina Spektor, Bob Dylan, Flaming Lips, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sublime were among thousands who contributed.
Not surprisingly, much of the onus focused on the late, great David Bowie (read our short tribute here). Greville Records, where I began, renamed Record Store Day as ‘All-Day Bowie’, which involved blasting his tunes through the sound system and performances that covered his tracks.
From Greville Records, a fantastic joint in Prahran, I checked out Heartland Records then made a brief foray to Plug Seven in Fitzroy. All three stores were heaving, the din of fellow vinyl seekers giving off a refreshing vibrancy.
Therefore, I wasn’t too surprised to read that Record Store Day had helped produce the best week for vinyl sales since Nielsen began tracking them in 1991. If my insular world was anything to go by, it was a natural result.
In the end I bought four records, including one RSD exclusive:
Bob Dylan/The Band – Before the Flood 
I’m not usually a fan of live albums but when I saw the track list of this double LP, I couldn’t resist.
Before the Flood bundles together Dylan and The Band favourites like ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, ‘The Weight’, ‘I Shall Be Released’, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’, ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and ‘Like a Rolling Stone’.
Many of the compositions have been changed, reinterpreted and often sped up. This doesn’t always work but there are enough standouts on here (‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is a gem) and overall I love hearing how The Band interprets Dylan classics.
This tour and subsequent album came about at tumultuous times; the early 70s had not been kind to either and this was seen as a return to form, playing to their strengths of nostalgic 60s hits. As such, it’s definitely worth a listen.
Wilson Pickett – The Best of Wilson Pickett [1974 Japan LP]
A rare Japanese compilation of the incomparable Wilson Pickett, whose gravelly voice never tires. His classic numbers like ‘In the Midnight Hour’, ‘634-5789’, ‘Mustang Sally’ and an impassioned cover of ‘Hey Jude’ are all here in their soulful glory.
The Decemberists – The Crane Wife 
My favourite Decemberists album, The Crane Wife is an album I’ve liked for a decade. They’re a band that tick all the boxes for me: twee, quirky and intelligent, exhibiting sounds and lyrics rarely surpassed.
Patti Smith – Horses: Live at Electric Lady Studios 
But none of these compare to this Record Store Day exclusive, by far my best find of the day. Patti Smith’s amazing live album was recorded last year at Electric Lady Studios, the studio Jimi Hendrix established and where she recorded Horses 40 years ago.
In the intimate, mythic setting and surrounded by friends (Michael Stipe, Win Butler and Darren Aronofsky among them), Patti Smith exudes pure class as she does what she does best…a bit of spoken word, lyrics changed to highlight the environmental crisis and the evils of neoliberalism and powerful, raw energy.
Every song sounds fresh and alive and mesmerizing. By the time she delivers her harrowing elegy to those lost, kindred souls – Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, her husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Kurt Cobain and Lou Reed to name a few – Patti Smith has already left you captivated and transfixed; the only thing left to do is turn the record over and start again.