Spring Record Store Day is upon us, bringing unique releases to indie record stores everywhere on Saturday, April 23, and the timing is perfect.
Word that Exclusive Company is closing all its stores (though thankfully some will remain open under new ownership) reminds us that these shops need our support more than ever.
With that spirit in mind, here are some interesting recent vinyl releases – not all RSD exclusives – that you can likely find in your local indie record emporium. Surely, what’s not there can be ordered.
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio
“Cold As Weiss” (Colemine)
If you love funky-ass soul jazz organ trios as much as I do, you’ll wanna check out this third studio set from the Seattle-based Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, featuring relatively new drummer Dan Weiss (hence the name of the LP). Sick beats, and interlacing guitar and organ lines create some of the booty-shakin’-est instrumentals since the days when Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Lonnie Liston Smith were all making records. The vinyl version recalls those days to a tee, with a great design, gatefold sleeve and retro typeface and layout on the back cover and labels.
“Do You Want More?!!!??!” box set (Geffen)
Remember how exciting The Roots were when they landed on the scenes? A live band playing hip-hop (I know, Stetsasonic was there first, but still), blended with all kinds of other styles, too? The group’s second LP, but major-label debut, “Do You Want More?!!!??!,” was a stunning musical manifesto, especially for the mid-90s when so many in America were mired in grunge’s retro rawk. If you wanted more of “More?!!!??!” back then, you just had to be patient, because now you can have it in this four-LP set in a 12x12 box that has the original LP spread over two discs, plus two discs of remixes and alternate versions. All four are slipped into attractive heavy-duty sleeves. The booklet with photos and recording details also has great essays by Questlove and Black Thought, as well as reminenscenses by others, in-depth notes on all the tracks and more. Essential.
Pepper Adams & The Tommy Banks Trio
“Live from The Room At The Top” (Reel to Real)
This Record Store Day release brings to light for the first time a 1972 performance by the late baritone sax king Pepper Adams, recorded in Canada with the Tommy Banks Trio. The music is superb, especially a rollicking read of Thad Jones’ “Three and One,” and the set – a double LP in gatefold – brings you right into the room at the University of Alberta that late September day. Mastered from the original tapes and pressed into 180-gram vinyl, this is a great reminder of Adams’ skills, which deserve to be better-known outside hardcore jazz circles. Also includes a fold-out sheet with photos, memories of the show and interviews. I especially love that the original gig poster is reproduced on the back cover.
“Solid Gold” (Trojan Jamaica)
Record just before his death in February 2021 and released not long after, this double-LP in standard gatefold sleeve and pressed on gold wax, naturally, was the groundbreaking Jamaican toaster’s swan song. This 12-song set finds Daddy U-Roy still in top form, duetting on some of his classics – “Rule the Nation,” “Tom Drunk,” Wake The Town,” etc. – and those of others with the likes of Big Youth, Steel Pulse’s David Hinds, the late Robbie Shakespeare and Ziggy Marley, as well as younger cats like Tarrus Riley, Santigold and Jesse Royal. Released on Zak Starkey’s Trojan Jamaica imprint, this is a fun, nostalgic take on the unmatched career of a Jamaican legend and it was a fitting final note.
“Bird In L.A.” (Verve)
There’s no arguing the music here, recorded by the legendary Charlie Parker with the likes of Dizzy Gillesspie, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Slim Gaillard, Benny Carter and many others – including erstwhile Milwaukeean Frank Morgan – in 1945, ‘46, ‘48 and ‘52 at a variety of venues in the City of Angels. These outfits sizzle. There have been some complaints about dirty vinyl on these sets, but mine was pretty (though not entirely) clean. The audio quality varies a bit due to the range of sources but any fan will be able to listen through any unevenness. There are four LPs and a 12x12 glossy booklet with photos, an essay and recording details in a 12x12 box with a beautiful 1952 Jirayr Zorthian painting on the front. This was a Black Friday Record Store Day release, but you can still find it and it’s worth looking for.
“Wild Life” (Capitol/MPL)
I love the recent McCartney reissues, which have been lovingly remastered – in this case at Abbey Road – with vinyl cut from half-speed masters. After two records made at home, “Wild Life” was Macca’s first effort with his new band, and it definitely felt different, with its own unique energy and a cover of Mickey & Sylvia’s “Love Is Strange.” This 50the anniversary version not only sounds great, but looks great too with its original picture labels, heavy vinyl and a bright yellow inner bag.
The Goo Goo Dolls
“Greatest Hits Volume 1: The Singles” (Warner)
Though the Buffalo rockers started out on the indie scene – you could’ve caught them at the Odd Rock Cafe in Bay View back in the day – The Goo Goo Dolls found stardom in the ‘90s thanks to a string of dramatic pop rockers like “Name,” “Slide” and “Iris.” You can hear those and 11 other singles tracks on this set, which has a nice inner sleeve, though perhaps a couple too many songs squeezed in for maximum sonic results.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.