Record Store Day 2010 Wrap-Up

The line outside J&R
The line outside J&R at 8:30 AM.
Well, it’s late afternoon on April 17, 2010 — Record Store Day — here in NYC. My feet are hurting and the limited Jimi Hendrix “Live at Clark University” is spinning on my turntable, so that means that it’s time to wrap up my RSD coverage!

I started out this morning at around 8:30 at J&R, way downtown. Since this was the store with the earliest opening hour in town, I figured I’d find a high concentration of the most fanatical record nuts there, and I wasn’t disappointed. The line outside (I estimate it was 100 people long by 9) was pretty mellow except for the occasional outburst of nervous anticipation. “What?! You got the Doors single? Doors?!” — that kind of thing.

And it was a pretty smooth operation once the doors opened — well, the first 20 minutes were a bit of a frenzy — and the stock of exclusive items looked comprehensive. (They didn’t have the Moby Grape 45 though — luckily I grabbed that later. It’s impressive.) It seemed like folks were getting what they came for. Store Manager Charlie Bagarozza said it was going to be a fun day; Record Store Day was off to a good start at J&R.

Brooklyn's Sound Fix Records
Brooklyn's Sound Fix Records.
Next up was Sound Fix in Brooklyn. I hadn’t gotten to cover the shop in the lead-up to RSD, but I would have liked to since it’s a nice place. It reminds me of Other Music; it’s got high ceilings, a similar shelving system, and carries predominantly indie stuff. But it does have its own vibe and is worth a trip. I didn’t realize that Sound Fix was as popular as it is — I got there about a half-hour after they opened and it was jam packed! It was all about the indie releases at Sound Fix, whereas at J&R it was more about the Springsteen, Stones, and John Lennon.

After some lunch I headed down to Other Music. They have their RSD down to a science there: lines around the block, because they were making sure that the place didn’t get too crowded. When I showed up ABC TV was in there. Crazy. I got to duck into the store for a few minutes and look around. It was mellow! Some soothing electronica spinning on the stereo, kinda quiet talking, everybody calmly looking through the racks… it was really well done. Other Music have been around for a while and they clearly know how to handle the big events. Kudos.

The line outside Other Music
The line outside Other Music.
I wrapped up at Academy Records on 18th Street which was doing some brisk business despite not carrying any of the limited releases. I usually find something cool in their bins — either CD or vinyl — and today was no different: a super clean Jeff Beck “Flash” LP, for $1. Now, Flash isn’t considered one of Mr. Beck’s finest moments (hence the price tag), but it IS Jeff Beck after all, and Epic pressings from the mid-70s to the early 80s sound real good in my opinion, especially when they have the MASTERDISK stamp in the deadwax like this one does.

Anyway folks, I hope you had a good time out there today and heard — and will hear — some good music as a result of Record Store Day. See you back here at The Masterdisk Record next week, as we get back to our regular programming with a story about engineer Randy Merrill’s mastering of Darcy James Argue’s critically acclaimed album Infernal Machines.

Limited RSD items at J&R
The limited edition wall 20 minutes after the frenzy.

Countdown to Record Store Day, Part 2: J&R

J&R Vinyl
One corner of the J&R vinyl department
Now that Tower and Virgin have vanished from the New York music retail scene (RIP), the only place in town to still get that old school multi-floor record store fix is J&R.

This is the place to go when you’re looking for new CDs and vinyl (they do have some used bins but it’s far from their specialty). J&R has three major strengths when it comes to serving the music buyer: selection, scope, and price. A pretty good combo if you ask me!

The main floor is mostly given to a very large pop/rock section. When it comes to classic artists like The Doors, Steely Dan, and Talking Heads, you’ll usually find their full catalogs plus some unexpected import items. Lots of lesser known artists too. Captain Beyond? Humble Pie? Free? Pretty much if it’s in print, you have a good chance of finding it here. They also carry a lot of indie labels, so you’ll find stuff from Relapse, Light in the Attic, Merge, Nuclear Blast, and on and on.

In addition to the rock/pop selection, you’ll find dedicated sections for oldies, rap & hip hop, a good sized jazz room and large classical and opera rooms, country, blues, and a sizable world music collection. There’s also a dedicated “audiophile” section (with gold CDs, SACD and DVD-A releases), folk and gospel sections, and more.

J&R’s regular prices are on the low side, and, even better, they always seem to be running some kind of sale. New releases in particular seem to go for sometimes surprisingly low sale prices.

Well, that’s a long intro. Let’s get to the Record Store Day stuff. J&R is definitely the place to go in NYC if you’re looking for the special limited releases, particularly the more mainstream ones like the Stones, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix items.

J&R window sign
Some of the items coming on Saturday.
I talked to Senior Store Manager Charlie Bagarozza and Marketing Manager Wayne Olsen at the store on Tuesday. Record Store Day has grown exponentially since it’s debut in 2008, so much so that in 2009, Wayne says, there was more demand for the special items than either record stores or record labels had expected. Customers weren’t able to get everything they were looking for. But this year both record companies and shops are taking extra steps to make sure that the demand is better met. Wayne said he’s feeling good about the stock they’ve been getting in in preparation for Saturday. That said, these are limited items, and Record Store Day is expected to be even bigger than last year, so get there early! The store opens at 9 a.m., but keep in mind that there was already a line formed outside before opening last year.

In addition to the special releases, J&R has a lot of fun stuff going on including free giveaways, autograph signings, and performances (including one by Judy Collins). Check the full list of goings-on here: J&R Record Store Day Events.

Did I mention that they’re running a sale all week on all CDs and vinyl in the store? Yeah, J&R is a pretty great record store.