Get out that shopping list, vinyl fans, because it’s almost the best holiday of all: Record Store Day! Among the many festivities associated with the annual event, which arrives Saturday April 22, Record Store Day sees multiple artists shipping specialty albums to independent record shops worldwide.
With dozens of special edition pressings to choose from, it can be hard to decide just where you should begin. But look no further, vinyl- , we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. Below are our top albums to look for on this year’s Record Store Day. And if you don’t have a turntable yet, check out our latest list of the Best turntables for under $500 to get things spinning.
David Bowie fans can get their hands on something truly special this Record Store Day in the form of this previously unreleased three-LP set of live recordings from the glam-rock king’s Los Angeles stop in 1974. Recently re-mixed by legendary producer Tony Visconti in New York, the live set showcases Bowie’s transition between the Diamond Dogs and Philly Dogs tours, with five sides of music and a sixth side that features a special as-yet-unseen etching. With live takes of Diamond Dogs, Changes, Suffragette City and Space Oddity, among dozens of others, there’s going to be a lot of awesome to enjoy here.
Late songwriter Vic Chesnutt’s sophomore album West of Rome will hit vinyl for the first time this year, part of a limited edition two LP set. The raw and melodic album, which was produced by REM’s Michael Stipe, is considered by many critics to be the wheelchair-bound musicians’s best. The two LPs will feature the full studio album, but in a specially re-ordered track list that was changed by Stipe and Chesnutt after the original release. It will also showcase B-sides and demos, providing longtime fans something extremely special in beautiful analog audio for the first time.
The War On Drugs’ first new music since the groundbreaking 2014 album, Lost In The Dream, will be released on vinyl before it hits any other format. A song called Thinking of a Place will come delivered to fans’ ears in two parts — one part per side — on this special pressing. If the acclaimed indie band’s previous music is any indication, this should be an extremely accessible rock number that you’ll be inclined to listen to over and over.
Despite a number one debut on the charts in late-1999, The Notorious B.I.G.’s first posthumous album, Born Again, has been out of print since the early 2000s. But fans need hunt no more: In honor of the 20th anniversary of the legendary rapper’s death, the album will hit shelves on a pair of gold records. Featuring guest verses from acclaimed artists like Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Missy Elliott, there is plenty of interesting content to dig into on the album, with B.I.G.’s own verses coming from a wide range of outtakes and rarities he recorded throughout his short but groundbreaking career.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s first performance outside the United States gets a limited-edition vinyl run this Record Store Day, allowing fans to hear The Boss’ first step towards world domination with some warm fuzz in the mix. A performance from November 1975, the Hammersmith Odeon recordings feature energetic performances from classic album Born To Run, which had only been released three months prior to the concert.
A special 7″ 45 featuring Andre 3000’s funky take on The Beatles’ All Together Now — first heard in a Nike commercial for the 2010 NBA Finals — while hit record store shelves for the first time for the big event. Fun and energetic, the two sides of the record will showcase the original mix of the track, as well as a previously-unreleased instrumental version.
Considered by many to be among the greatest film soundtracks of all time, Vangelis’ songs for the iconic sci-fi classic feature synthesizers and strings heavily, instantly transporting listeners to Ridley Scott’s dark, dystopian world. This special picture disc release is designed to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the 1982 film. With Ridley Scott’s new sequel Blade Runner 2049 coming out in October, now’s a great time to bone up on the sounds of the original. And besides, this beauty will look as great on your wall as it will sound on your record player.
Reclusive Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor spent hours each day working in one of Africa’s most advanced recording studios in his heyday, but the late musician never actually performed his music live. In honor of Onyeabor’s amazing compositions, New York label Luaka Bop put together a supergroup featuring Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem), Money Mark (Beastie Boys), and many others to perform the songs for a small number of live audiences. If you missed those shows, this LP-only release is the only way you’ll hear these fresh takes on Onyeabor’s classics. It’s a loving group of covers that is well worth comparing to the original source material.
The 40th anniversary of Star Wars: A New Hope is celebrated with a special 10″ release, a two sided record that features the main and ending titles from John Williams’ classic score. If you don’t already own some version of Williams’ Star Wars compositions on analog, this is definitely a good one to grab.
Up-and-coming indie rockers Big Thief will put out their two newest singles on a special opaque yellow vinyl pressing for this special day of music. The songs, Mythological Beauty and Breath in My Lungs, will be of particular interest to those who love the frenetic rock-and-roll sounds of the band’s 2016 release Real Love — an album we highly recommend for those who haven’t yet heard it.
A three-LP compilation originally put together by Young himself with hand-written liner notes, Decade showcases the songwriter’s musical evolution between 1966 and 1976. Long out of print, the record was actually the only compilation album Young had for nearly two, well, decades following its release. Recordings range from early Buffalo Springfield to Crazyhorse, and his iconic work with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
This Record Store Day marks the first time that blues legend Robert Johnson’s complete recorded works — 42 takes which span just two recording sessions in 1936 and 1937 — will be available together in one three-disc vinyl set. Add to that the fact that most of the original music released by Johnson is on extremely rare 78 RPM vinyl, and blues fans the world over will be clamoring to get ahold of this special offering in standard 33 RPM.
Record Store Day even provides something for anti-capitalist punks to get excited about: A set of 10 pre-1980 singles by acclaimed punk rockers The Ramones, all pressed to 7-inch, 45 RPM vinyl. The tunes, which include hits like Blitzkrieg Bop and I Wanna Be Sedated, can’t be heard in a more authentic punk rock format than this, and come packaged in a special cigarette-style box.
The soundtrack to the cult-beloved 1996 animated comedy Space Jam will be released on a limited run of 4000 LPs, giving fans of Seal, R. Kelly, and the hilarious Barry White/Chris Rock collaboration Basketball Jones something very exciting to look forward to. It’s not an iconic record by any means, but this is the release you’ll most want to frame and put on your man cave (or boy cave?) wall.
To see the full list of records hitting shelves this Record Store Day, or to find your nearest participating record store, be sure to check out the event’s official website.
Updated 4-21-2017 by Parker Hall: Updated to add a few more choice cuts ahead of the big day.