DownBeat’s Vinyl Shopping Guide to RSD Black Friday 2020


Resonance Records’ Sonny Rollins album, Rollins In Holland, will be available as part of Record Store Day Black Friday (Nov. 27). The album’s packaging includes many photos, including this shot of bassist Ruud Jacobs (left) and Rollins performing on May 5, 1967.

(Photo: Provided by Resonance Records: Photographer Unknown–Courtesy of Beeld en Geluid)

For vinyl collectors, the day after Thanksgiving traditionally has been a time to rush to a local independent retailer for the Record Store Day Black Friday shopping event. Collectors’ shopping strategies undoubtedly will be different this year, due to safety protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite these obstacles, on Nov. 27, indie retailers will continue a tradition that dates back to 2010, once again offering a fresh batch of exclusive RSD vinyl releases for Black Friday.

This year, the Black Friday event follows three Record Store Day “drops.” Those three shopping events—which took place on Aug. 29, Sept. 26 and Oct. 24—were designed to generate some much-needed revenue for owners of brick-and-mortar record shops.

In the week after the Aug. 29 event, organizers asked retail employees to share their thoughts about how it went. The comments, posted at the RSD website on Sept. 8, include this recap from a staffer at Twist & Shout, located in Denver: “We went to crazy lengths to create a safe and organized event for our customers, and they rewarded us by following the rules, showing up and bringing their best behavior with them. … [W]e sold through more than 50% of the titles on [Aug.] 29th and continued to sell on Sunday, and now online sales are roaring. The majority will be gone this week. Jazz and hip-hop titles were strong (Charlie Parker, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), as were good catalog pieces … .”

Twist & Shout is among dozens of indie record shops across the country now offering curbside pickup and mail-order service.

Collectors planning to shop in person on Nov. 27 should contact participating local retailers to find out specific details about safety guidelines. At the RSD website, The Black Friday FAQ includes this explanation: “In 2020, due to the pandemic, the RSD Black Friday rules regarding the timing of online sales [have] changed, and a store may choose to sell releases through their branded websites and accounts starting at 1 PM EDT on November 27. Not all stores will choose to do this, and some may choose to restrict their shipping/pickup areas. Check with your local store to find out how they’re handling sales.”

The RSD website lists more than 130 titles slated for release on Black Friday, including recordings by jazz artists Monty Alexander, Jon Batiste, Dave Brubeck, George Coleman, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Sonny Rollins and Barney Wilen.

There were also be titles by Norah Jones, Jerry Garcia, Aimee Mann, Willie Nelson, Post Malone, Ice-T, Lil Wayne, The Bangles, Motorhead, U2 and The Rolling Stones.

In collectors’ parlance, the titles that indie shops will sell on Black Friday are divided into three categories: RSD exclusive releases, RSD limited-run/regional focus releases and “RSD First” releases.

RSD exclusive releases are available only at participating stores. Among those titles is a 12-inch single by British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings’ band The Comet Is Coming. The Verve single’s A side has a new track, “Imminent,” and the B side is a remixed version of “Super Zodiac.”

The most rare titles sold on Black Friday are the limited-run/regional focus releases, which typically have a production run of less than 1,000 copies. Among the regional titles is Rock–Live Concert, a 2016 set by blues-rocker Luther Dickinson. Pressed on blue vinyl by New West Records, the release is limited to 900 copies.

In contrast, the most plentiful titles on Black Friday typically are the “RSD First” releases, which will be sold at participating indie stores for a limited amount of time before possibly becoming available at other outlets.

Among the “RSD First” titles is Grover Live, a double LP by saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. that was recorded in June 1997 at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York. This set from Lightyear is limited to 2,500 copies and features some of the Washington’s best-known songs, including “Winelight” and “Just The Two Of Us.”

Below are 10 more titles that might interest DownBeat readers. For additional details—and a list of participating shops—visit the Record Store Day website.

DownBeat’s Top 10 Titles for RSD Black Friday

1. Billie Holiday, Nina Simone & Bettye LaVette, Original Grooves (Verve). This title tops the list because it combines transcendent music with quirky technology. The initial release of Verve’s Original Grooves series, this 12-inch EP showcases the vinyl cutting technique known as “parallel grooves,” wherein grooves are cut side-by-side—rather than one after another. The result is that listeners can hear a different song, depending on where the needle is placed on the record. Side A includes Bettye LaVette singing “Strange Fruit,” with Billie Holiday’s timeless version tucked into the neighboring grooves. Side B features Nina Simone’s version of “I Hold No Grudge” seemingly hidden alongside LaVette’s rendition of the tune. This RSD Exclusive release is limited to 2,500 copies.

2. Monty Alexander, Love You Madly: Live At Bubba’s (Resonance). This double LP of previously unreleased music chronicles a 1982 set by the Jamaican pianist, who was joined by bassist Paul Berner, drummer Duffy Jackson and percussionist Robert Thomas Jr. In addition to quotes from all four bandmembers, the liner notes feature tributes from pianists Kenny Barron, Benny Green, Emmet Cohen and Christian Sands. This RSD Exclusive release is limited to 1,200 LP copies. (A two-CD version will be available Dec. 4.)

3. Herbie Hancock, The Herbie Hancock Trio (Get On Down). This 1977 studio recoding by the iconic pianist previously has, until now, only been available on LP in Japan. Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams play the bandleader’s original compositions, as well as Miles Davis’ “Milestones.” This “RSD First” release is limited to 2,000 copies.

4. Sonny Rollins, Rollins In Holland: The 1967 Studio & Live Recordings (Resonance). This three-LP set documents a brief tour of The Netherlands, where Rollins performed alongside drummer Han Bennink and bassist Ruud Jacobs. The program—which includes “On Green Dolphin Street,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Sonnymoon For Two”—documents Rollins at a period when he felt that European audiences were particularly receptive to his work, as he recounted to DownBeat for an article in the forthcoming January 2021 issue. This RSD Exclusive release is limited to 3,500 LP copies. (A two-CD version will be available Dec. 4.)

5. Jon Batiste, WE ARE: Roots & Traditions (Verve). The pianist, keyboardist and bandleader of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert has become a prominent voice amid calls for social justice in 2020. This 12-inch EP, pressed on purple vinyl, includes four tracks, including “Tell The Truth (Treme Mix),” featuring Mardi Gras Indians from the Batiste’s hometown, New Orleans. This RSD Exclusive release is limited to 2,500 copies.

6. George Coleman, In Baltimore (Reel To Real). Recorded in 1971, this LP documents the tenor saxophonist in a quintet with trumpeter Danny Moore, pianist Albert Dailey, bassist Larry Ridley and drummer Harold White. Coleman, who did groundbreaking work with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2015. This “RSD First” release is limited to 1,000 copies.

7. Norah Jones, Playdate (Capitol/Blue Note). This 12-inch EP contains bonus tracks and B-sides from Norah Jones’ recent studio album, Pick Me Up Off The Floor. The program includes “Falling,” “I’ll Be Gone,” “Street Stranger,” “Take It Away,” “Playing Along,” “I Forgot” and “Tryin’ To Keep It Together.” This RSD Exclusive release is limited to 2,000 copies.

8. Barney Wilen Quartet, Barney And Tet: Grenoble ’88 (Elemental Music). This LP, recorded on Feb. 12, 1988, features French tenor and soprano saxophonist Barney Wilen and Spanish pianist Tete Montoliu. They were joined by Italian bassist Riccardo del Fra and drummer Aaron Scott (a Chicago native). Among the standards the quartet offers are “Autumn Leaves,” “Summertime” and “All The Things You Are.” This RSD Exclusive release is limited to 1,000 copies.

9. Karen Dalton, It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best (Capitol/Caroline). The folk-blues singer’s debut originally was released in 1969. Dalton (1937–’93), who cited Bessie Smith as a key influence, frequently was compared to Billie Holiday. On Dalton’s debut, she interprets tunes by Jelly Roll Morton, Lead Belly and Fred Neil. This “RSD First” release is limited to 3,000 LP copies.

10. Bob James, “Nautilus/Submarine,” (Evosound). Pianist Bob James’ 1974 album, One, concluded with the song “Nautilus,” which has had a profound impact on his career and on popular music. The track has been sampled by hundreds of hip-hop artists, including Run-DMC, Dr. Dre and A Tribe Called Quest. (James discussed the phenomenon in an article published in the October 2020 issue of DownBeat.) This RSD First release—which is limited to 500 copies pressed on gold vinyl—marks the first time this landmark track has been released as a 7-inch single. The B side is a remix of “Submarine” from James 2018 album, Espresso.

DownBeat’s 2017 article “Record Store Day Is Boon for Vinyl Sales” traces the history of these shopping events. DB

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