Record Store Day by Matt White

What is Record Store Day (RSD)?

To the average record collector, I guess RSD is like the January Sales. If those sales were held in April (usually) or like recently in June and July. But in direct contrast to the January sales, everything you wanted was more expensive rather than cheaper.

And yet here you are. Meticulously planning to arrive outside your shop of choice (who am I kidding? if you are reading this then of course its Wax and Beans) at some ungodly hour of the day. Hoping it isn’t freezing cold or raining, but most of all, hoping that in the queue lottery you manage to draw yourself between a couple of sound record collectors who either want to chat in general, or just mind their own business. You could always get the flip-side of that, where its non-stop raining, freezing cold and you find yourself sandwiched between a couple of vinyl nerds who want to debate which pressing of their favourite album is sonically the most superior.

Nobody needs that at 5am.

Preparation usually starts in March, when social media starts to leak potential dates. In a post-covid world we must guess if it’s one, two or even three drops again?

Sidenote - on the matter of dates, ERA - can we please stick with June or July when the weather is at least expected to be nice? Is April really the month you want people queuing for up to 10 hours overnight? I think not.

So, 7th April – the first list drops, at roughly 6pm. The biggest surprise of the year? No Bowie.

At roughly 6.05pm on 7th April – I scan the list and message Ben this is what I want.

From here it is a never-ending cycle of looking through the list to see what I missed on first pass.

Then someone online decides to put up the list, but with artwork. OMG, artwork is so much more appealing than text on a page. How am I supposed to choose now?

So, I’ve gone through the artwork and a couple have dropped off my list. Why? Probably because I don’t like the cover, or I’ve seen something else to replace it. This isn’t Supermarket Sweep; this is meticulous and strategic planning. If it were Supermarket Sweep then, heck, I’d just take everything.

I start to frequent YouTube and Spotify to see if there is anything in there that I haven’t heard of but should have. FOMO is a real thing on RSD. There is always a couple of nice surprises, whether they are blind purchases or a sexy piece of artwork.

But then the serious stuff starts. Trying to guesstimate what each is going to cost, and by trying to guess I mean putting a value on something that I’d most likely be happy to pay, and then trying to figure out what it will be sold for.

Good grief, this is an expensive list.

Wait. Someone has managed to source prices and put them up?

Ok, now I separate into two lists – those I want and those I might want. Under that is another two columns, the price I’m prepared to pay and the actual price.

Am I overthinking this?

Of course, I’m not, it’s perfectly natural. Except, I bought a house with less thought and planning than this.

Starts well, opening choices are a pound or two either way, I can live with that, should balance out at the end after all, shouldn’t it?

Now it gets super annoying, because there is going to be stuff on there that I really wouldn’t mind having, but at those prices, no thanks. Skid Row and Judas Priest (RSD20) I am looking at you! Oh, and Mr. Big (RSD21) don’t think I haven’t noticed you hiding at the back!

Basing my picks on pricing I am down to 19 across both drops. That’s probably still too many. Do I really need Mogwai and Rage Against the Machine? They are some of the more expensive ones in my ‘maybe’ pile.

I mean what is a maybe pile anyway. Is it stuff I want? If it were then it would be on my wants pile and not on my maybe’s, surely?

Damn this is getting expensive.

Someone (usually Lou – mainly because Ben is inside with a coffee) walks up and down the queue and lets us know that some of the expected releases have been pushed to the next drop. Panic sets in, I’d given myself a budget and was fully expecting to spend that.

Back over the list we go, maybe we missed something on the first seven hundred or so passes?

For me, this year it was the loss of Ash, Pearl Jam and Cat Stevens that set the panic in. So, I look again. I find Joni Mitchell and Tom Petty and add them to my list. Please bear in mind as you read this, I don’t mind Tom Petty, but I’ve never listened to a Joni Mitchell album in my life. Still, they stay on my list, I’ve always said I’d rather regret something I did rather than something I didn’t do.

You start to hear others in the queue try and tease from the guy in front what’s on their list. The Official Secrets Act should be governed by record collectors as these guys give nothing away. They know there is a limited amount of stock and while they don’t mind telling the guy behind, no way do they want to let the guy in front hear, in fear they may grab the last one.

A couple of additional hours pass by, and the queue starts to move. After getting here at 5am with a clear idea in my mind of what I wanted, only to be thrown off kilter by delays to the release schedule, its only a matter of minutes until I must hand my list in. Once I’ve done that, its final. Its almost 10.30am, I’ve been here for 5 hours and finally reality kicks in and asks me why I added Joni Mitchell and Tom Petty in. Quickly I grab a pen and remove them from my list, but not without having a final pass and being ultimately happy with my decisions.

I’ve given exams less thought than this.

Due to a pending move back down South, it’s a high probability that drop one this year is my last at Wax and Beans, but If I can squeeze another one out I will. It might take just as much planning pre-event, probably won’t get away with getting up at 4am for a quick (1 hour!) drive from Stoke on Trent. But whether I’m in Bury or somewhere else, Record Store Day will always hold special memories in my mind as a place where regular nerds can sit and chat about ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ to random strangers.

Just don’t be that guy who wants to tell you why this press or lacquer is better than the one being offered on the day.

Its 5am and, again, nobody needs that.

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