When it comes to vinyl records, it’s almost as much about a nostalgic experience as it is about the warm, crackling sound that emits from the record player.
This Saturday (April 21), the yearly “holiday” that celebrates the beauty of vinyl – Record Store Day – is more nostalgia-driven than ever. For 2012’s celebration, classic acts including Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin (unreleased material from her Pearl sessions), Paul McCartney, The Who’s Pete Townshend (Quadrophenia demos pt. II), David Bowie, Aretha Franklin/Otis Redding (a split single of “Respect”), Paul Simon and ABBA will roll out LPs and 45s.
Five years in, Record Store Day – held every April – is stronger than ever. According to the holiday’s co-founder Michael Kurtz, nearly 1,700 independently-owned record stores worldwide now participate in Record Store Day, opening up their shops and stocking exclusive vinyl releases in celebration. This year, hundreds of artists and their labels (Warner Bros. leads the pack in vinyl releases, Kurtz says) either recorded brand new material or reissued and repackaged existing work specifically for the occasion, oftentimes pressing colored 180-gram vinyl and hand-producing elaborate album art.
Thanks in large part to Record Store Day, vinyl sales have been a bright spot in the otherwise bleak sales landscape of the music industry for the last four years. In 2011, vinyl sales were up 36 percent as compared to 2010. The best-selling vinyl record of recent years is not a contemporary choice, but rather, one of rock’s most classic albums: The Beatles Abbey Road, which sold 41,000 vinyl copies last year, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“Everybody gravitates toward that record [Abbey Road] on vinyl,” Kurtz said. “And it makes sense! Out all the Beatles records, it’s the most timeless.”
Though the holiday certainly celebrates a new generation of vinyl lovers and artists who release new music on vinyl, Record Store Day’s choice of ambassadors has shown its appreciation for the old school – rockers who originally released their music on vinyl and the music fans who never stopped loving the format. Last year, Ozzy Osbourne served as Record Store Day’s official ambassador, while this year, Stooges frontman Iggy Pop – a former record store employee — reigns on high.
“A lot of us grew up with Iggy, and it’s our five-year anniversary of record Store Day, so we’re thrilled to have someone who represents the old-school bombast of rock and roll,” Kurtz said. “It also turns out that April 21 is Iggy’s birthday, so he’s celebrating with us.”
But Iggy and Ozzy aren’t the only icons whose support for Record Store Day is notable. Kurtz points to Bruce Springsteen as a constant supporter of Record Store Day from the start, consistently releasing exclusive material for the holiday. This year, Springsteen will release a 7-inch single of “Rocky Ground,” off his latest album, Wrecking Ball. Kurtz also nods to “The Beatle camp,” whose members seem to roll out yearly releases for Record Store Day (this year, it’s a reissue of McCartney’s first solo single, 1970’s “Another Day,” with a B-side of “Oh Woman Oh Why”).
For a full list of Record Store Day vinyl releases and to find out which independent record stores in your area are participating this weekend, head to RSD’s official website.
—Jillian Mapes, CBS Local