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10 Gems to Pick Up on Record Store Day

A peek at some of the most intriguing records, from Ella Fitzgerald to Marnie Stern, you can find this Saturday.

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10 Gems to Pick Up on Record Store Day

The analog extravaganza that is Record Store Day returns Saturday with more than 200 new releases, reissues, rarities, and oddities at hundreds of participating stores around the world. As usual with this decade-old event, the music on offer can be plainly overwhelming (not to mention erratic in quality and purpose). Here’s a peek at 10 of the most intriguing records you can find at your local brick-and-mortar on Saturday.

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Neil Young: Roxy: Tonight’s The Night Live (Warner Bros.)

As Neil Young slowly disseminates all of the material is his archives, he has kept his fans waiting for some time to get a hold of this live recording. Captured at the relatively humble Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, this set finds Young and his band the Santa Monica Flyers (featuring Nils Lofgren and Billy Talbot) tearing their way hungrily through material that would wind up on his then-forthcoming album Tonight’s The Night. If you love those wired and wooly studio versions, you’re going to adore the loose ramble and extra volume that Young and co. brings to the songs here.


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Ella Fitzgerald: Ella At Zardi’s (Verve Music Group)

For over 60 years, this incredible live recording of Ella Fitzgerald performing at the L.A. jazz club Zardi’s sat languishing in Universal’s vaults until it was finally released on CD late last year. It’s positively stunning to listen to, with the already beloved vocalist working her way through two sets of standards, backed by a nimble three-piece rhythm combo (piano/bass/drums). Even more than any of her studio work at the time, Ella sounds alive here: loose and giddy during the upbeat numbers, tender and heartfelt on the ballads. This first time vinyl pressing loses none of those qualities, even in its pink and blue limited edition colored wax edition.


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Duck Baker: Les Blues du Richmond: Demos & Outtakes, 1973-1979 (Tompkins Square)

One of the best fingerstyle guitar players still making music today, Duck Baker may not have the name recognition, but damn does he ever have the talent. This collection of unreleased material from one of his many creative peaks showcases his ability to play ragtime, languid blues, Irish folk and more wandering experimental playing. Get acquainted with this one-of-a-kind talent thanks to the work of celebrated label Tompkins Square, which is is bringing this collection out in a limited vinyl pressing and on CD.


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Marnie Stern: This Is It And I Am It And You Are It And So Is That And He Is It And She Is It And It Is It And That Is That (Kill Rock Stars)

Out of print on vinyl for about a decade, this raging, beautiful work from singer/songwriter/guitar titan Marnie Stern snaps together musical elements that wouldn’t look like they would ever connect. The fingertapped guitar and furious drumming (courtesy of current Death Grips member Zach Hill) fits comfortably with Stern’s more new wave/riot grrrl-inspired vocal melodies. And for all its algebraic geometry-like complexity, it also has a tart sense of humor that reminds you it’s not taking itself that seriously. Kill Rock Stars is returning this album to its rightful place on record store shelves in a lovely colored vinyl edition.


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The Legendary Marvin Pontiac: Greatest Hits (Northern Spy)

Is the name Marvin Pontiac unfamiliar to you? Well, don’t be too concerned. He doesn’t actually exist. This musical moniker was adopted by actor/musician John Lurie in 1999 to record a batch of weird and wonderful pop tunes that found some strange Venn diagram valley where children’s music, outsider art and avant garde post-punk resides. It’s a devilishly fun listen and boasts an all-star cast of contributors, including guitarist Marc Ribot, keyboardist John Medeski, and Lurie’s Stranger Than Paradise co-star Eszter Balint. Originally released on CD, Northern Spy is committing these tunes to wax for the first time.


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The Sundays: Reading Writing and Arithmetic (Fugitive)

When the debut album by London quartet The Sundays was released in 1990, it felt like a tantalizing cool breeze on a hot day, fulfilling the promise of the group’s forebears like The Smiths, The Blue Nile and Everything But The Girl. It was crystalline pop set alight by the delicate yet earthy vocals of Harriet Wheeler and her partner David Gauvrin’s dreamy guitar tones. This Record Store Day release follows last year’s vinyl reissues of their group’s other two albums, Blind and Static & Silence.


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Latin Playboys: Latin Playboys (Rhino)

David Hidalgo recorded a batch of songs intended as demos for the long-running band he co-founded, Los Lobos, but when his producer Mitchell Froom got a hold of them, he was convinced that they needed to be an entirely new project. The combined efforts of those two men, Louie Peréz and Tchad Blake turned these off-kilter tunes into an album that feels like a half-remembered dream filtered through a deep layer of tape hiss. The self-titled debut from 1994 is getting its first ever vinyl release on Saturday.


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Various Artists: Girls in the Garage, Vols. 2 & 3 (Past & Present)

Last year saw the vinyl re-release of the first volume of this vital series of forgotten garage rock and psych-pop jams sung and performed by young women in the ‘60s. This time around, Past & Present Records is giving us the next two editions on wax, which feature some amazing rarities from groups like The Blue Orchids, The Virginia Wolves (whose take on “Land of 1,000 Dances” is like throwing a full gas can on Wilson Pickett’s already blazing version) and The Liverbirds.


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Tangerine Dream: Zeit (Varese Vintage)

This ambient/prog classic from German pioneers Tangerine Dream has been released in dozens of variations over the years since its initial 1972 pressing. And it’s no surprise that fans and labels keep returning to Zeit as its dark, slow building majesty is as captivating today as it was 40 years ago when it finally saw wide release in Europe and North America thanks to Virgin Records. Inspired by the response that they saw with the release last year of Tangerine Dream’s first album, Varese Vintage is bringing this one back into the world, pressed, appropriately enough, on tangerine colored vinyl.


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Sun Ra: Standards (ORG Music)

Fans of Chicago-by-way-of-Saturn avant garde jazz icon Sun Ra should be reeling in delight with the amount of material from the artist being released on this Record Store Day. And while you should be excited for the live album that Jackpot Records has on the way and the first proper release of the 1973 sessions known as Cymbals, this collection of Sun Ra’s takes on some beloved jazz standards, including “But Not For Me” and “Time After Time,” is the one that you shouldn’t miss out on. The recordings span a couple of decades, including a track recorded in the pianist’s rehearsal space in 1955, but they all carry that same playful, unhinged spirit that he brought to his Afrofuturist originals.

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