Beyond getting to see some new bands I like to start Record Store Day with a vinyl release to search for, even if my track record in actually finding it isn’t great. In the past this has included Radiohead’s 2011 12” release of ‘The Butcher and Supercollider’ and in 2014 Tame Impala’s, ‘Live Versions’. You guessed it, I didn’t get either.
This year was likely to be no easier. The object of my desire was The White Stripes highly regarded Peel Sessions, 15 years after recording they had been pressed into vinyl for the first time. Two disks, one white, one red. Reports on twitter said record stores had received their allocation only hours before they closed the night before RSD.
I’d planned a route through east London which would take me past three shops ending at London’s Record Store Day ground zero, Rough Trade East. Rough Trade regularly host in-store gigs and had booked a day of bands and DJs. The real pleasure of RSD for me is not what might be for sale, it’s the chance of catching an amazing set by an artist I’d never before heard of. Even if the music isn’t my taste there’s something about ‘the new’ that’s captivating.
My route starts at Love Vinyl, just off of the Kingsland Road. They have a good selection of RSD pressings, but hadn’t received any of the White Stripes. One of the staff tell me an early customer had spent over £800 – that’s a whole lot of vinyl. I speak to a group of friends outside who are frantically calling trying to track down a copy of The Slaves ‘Are You Satisfied’. RSD can get you like that, especially if your favourite artist is involved. If you’re not careful a sense of panic can set in, do I go there or that other store which is closer but may be busier – what to do?
My next opportunity is Sister Ray Ace further down the Essex Road, coffee was calling me but now is no time to be taking breaks. As Sister Ray comes into sight I see there’s a queue, my heart sinks, but maybe that means there’s something worth queuing for – a little Jack maybe! Things are very organised, a girl at the door is letting a small number of punters in at a time. Even though it wasn’t on their list I still have to ask, but Jack is nowhere to be seen.
..they’d received three copies of the White Stripes all of which were sold within 15 minutes of opening. Jack White had left the building.
I pull myself up, don’t lose hope now. I push on through the now drizzly east London. Left on to Bethnal Green Road, my brain’s begging for coffee, but Jack might be alone and waiting for me! Flashback Records comes into sight – no queue – that’s a good sign right? I get inside to be confronted by a scene reminiscent of the morning after a really good student party. There are a couple of forlorn souls searching for the vinyl equivalent of an old bottle of cooking sherry at the back of the kitchen cabinet. The staff are looking slightly stunned by the morning’s events. A sympathetic guy explains they’d received three copies of the White Stripes all of which were sold within 15 minutes of opening. Jack White had left the building (sorry for that).
Record Store Day 2016 ends the same way as it had every other year, without the main prize. I walk along Brick Lane to Rough Trade, I knew any copies they’d had would be well gone by now. I can’t help but ask never-the-less.
On the bright side, I saw Chilean duo Magaly Fields who were new to me play a really stonking set. I also caught a DJ set by Blanck Mass – a bit too discordant for my taste but plenty of people were enjoying it.
Next year I’m sure I’ll be doing the same. Probably with the same lack of success – but still full of hope.