You know about Record Store Day, right? That magical day that has come once a year since 2007. It’s when stores including Zia Records, Stinkweeds, Revolver Records, The Record Room, and many others lay it all out there for music fans. This year, it falls on Saturday, April 22. Bands play, specially packaged releases appear, and sometimes, even miracles happen.
In 2015, there was one Record Store Day release I wanted more than all the others. McLusky’s McLuskyism was my Holy Grail, and after seeing that the label, Too Pure, was releasing 2,000 copies on April 18 of that year, I knew what I had to do.
On the night before, I ran into a buddy of mine, let’s call him Mike D., who works at a local record store. We were both at the Crescent Ballroom for Built To Spill and Tucson’s awesome Whispering Wires, and even though I felt like a turd for doing so, I had to ask.
“So, did you guys happen to get any copies of the McLusky record?” I said sheepishly.
On many levels, I feared even asking for insider information was a surefire way to guarantee I did not get one of those records. What odds did I have? In the past, it has always seemed like the music gods have shown a tangible disdain for Phoenix when it comes to all things music, whether it’s been bands skipping our desert town on tour (damn you, PJ Harvey) or the latest and greatest underground records being tough to find in local shops. I did not want to jinx myself.
“We got one,” Mike said.
Now my mind was racing. I thought of Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber and his line, “So you’re saying I have a chance.” Then I thought of the fact Mike works for a record store that has multiple locations.
But I didn’t say “fudge.” I made the executive decision to get up early (like you might on April 22, dear reader), get down to the closest record shop, get in line, and be there for the opening bells of Record Store Day 2015.
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Built To Spill was amazing that night and I was up late. My alarm didn’t go off. I probably forgot to set it due to several fine ales procured at the Crescent, but when I sprang awake a mere 10 minutes before 9 a.m., the opportunity for my Record Store Day miracle seemed to be slipping away. I remember sitting on the edge of the bed staring at my shoes and thinking, “There’s no way I get that record. I should just go back to sleep for a while and then go down to catch Built To Spill again at their in-store later in the day at Zia.”
I jumped into the car, though, and threw caution to the wind. I had to try. I had to go forward and search for the album that had consumed my every thought since reading about the existence of the re-release by one of the most underrated noisy punk rock bands ever. McLusky, man, is one of the bands, and they were on “The List.”
The Record Store Day marketing geniuses release “The List” about a month before the actual day to taunt us. “The List” tells fans and collectors what is going to be out there for consumption on the third Saturday of April. They show us a glimpse of the wonders that will be waiting for us to find and take home.
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Some unscrupulous types pounce on these beautiful slabs of vinyl to resell them on eBay days later for a sometimes-huge profit, but for many music fans, Record Store Day is a quest for redemption. For one day, we get to reclaim our youthful exuberance for new vinyl, even if it is a record we originally bought years ago but just not on blue vinyl. It is an opportunity to search the bins, shoulder to shoulder with our fellow fans, hoping they don’t see the record we’re looking for, and keeping our poker face from showing any emotion should we find it. Because nobody likes a sore winner.
It was hard to contain my glee when I strolled into Zia Records on April 18 at 9:10 a.m., walked to the first unoccupied crate of records in the front of the store, absentmindedly flipped to the middle of the stack of records in the crate, and laid my eyes directly on the one copy of McLuskyism in Phoenix.
Record Store Day 2017 is Saturday, April 22. For a guide to participating stores and events, see the Record Store Day website.