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Record Store Day 2023: The 20 Best Releases You Need To Buy
List & Guides

Record Store Day 2023: The 20 Best Releases You Need To Buy

From studio outtakes to out-of-print classics, the best Record Store Day 2023 releases are essential purchases for vinyl lovers.

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One of the most important dates in music fans’ calendars, Record Store Day never ceases to come up with the goods. Whether you’re looking for wallet-friendly reissues of costly rarities, or outtakes and live recordings that fill out the bigger picture behind landmark albums, the best Record Store Day 2023 releases are must-buys for every vinyl junkie’s wants lists.

Record Store Day 2023: The 20 Best Releases You Need To Buy

20: Rich Kids: ‘Ghosts Of Princes In Towers’ (black vinyl, 6,000 copies)

New wave supergroup Rich Kids burned briefly but brightly. Featuring ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock and future Ultravox frontman Midge Ure, the band’s lone album, Ghosts Of Princes In Towers, was produced by David Bowie’s former right-hand man, Mick Ronson, and released in August 1978. It featured the group’s sole Top 30 hit, Rich Kids, alongside a slew of incendiary pop tunes such as Marching Men, Burning Sounds and Cheap Emotions, but it became the group’s epitaph when they split just months later. Still essential, this newly remastered edition comfortably sits among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases.

Must hear: Rich Kids

19: Ol’ Dirty Bastard: ‘Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version’ (2LP picture disc, 12,000 copies)

The late Wu-Tang Clan icon’s debut solo album, Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, was one of the most anticipated releases of 1996, and it didn’t disappoint: spin-off hits Brooklyn Zoo and Shimmy Shimmy Ya provided excellent showcases for what Rolling Stone called ODB’s “raspy, lisp-punctuated voice and half-sung, half-rapped style”. Return To The 36 Chambers cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, and fans will to return to the album once more this Record Store Day, for an exclusive 2LP picture-disc pressing.

Must hear: Shimmy Shimmy Ya

18: Siouxsie & The Banshees: ‘A Kiss In The Dreamhouse’ (clear and gold vinyl, 15,000 copies)

The final album by The Banshees’ finest line-up, featuring guitarist John McGeoch, A Kiss In The Dreamhouse remains one of the band’s touchstone releases: featuring all manner of dark yet accessible brilliance, from the motorik Slowdive to the rich psychedelia of She’s A Carnival and the Baudelaire-inspired Melt, it’s a bold, compelling goth-rock masterpiece. Pressed on clear and gold marbled vinyl, with updated artwork overseen by Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin, this edition of A Kiss In The Dreamhouse makes for an alluring entry among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases.

Must hear: Melt

17: Madonna: ‘American Life Mixshow (In Memory Of Peter Rauhofer)’ (black vinyl 12”, 17,000 copies)

American Life Mixshow is an exclusive EP which celebrates the 20th anniversary of Madonna’s American Life album by honouring the life and work of Peter Rauhofer, the influential Austrian American DJ who created unforgettable remixes – not just for Madonna, but also Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears – during a stellar career which lasted from the late 90s to his death, in 2013.

The eight-song release features six brand new edits of Madonna’s favourite American Life-era remixes, for songs such as Hollywood, Die Another Day, Nobody Knows Me and the album’s title track. A portion of sales proceeds will be donated to research for brain cancer, the disease with claimed Rauhofer’s life at the tragically early age of 48.

Must hear: Nobody Knows Me (Peter Rauhofer’s Private Life Edit)

16: Ramones: ‘Pleasant Dreams: New York Sessions’ (yellow vinyl, 14,500 copies)

Produced by 10cc’s Graham Gouldman, Ramones’ sixth studio album, Pleasant Dreams, remains an unsung part of the NYC punks’ catalogue. Even polarising opinion within Ramones themselves, many of the album’s pop-punk highlights (She’s A Sensation, The KKK Took My Baby Away and the angry We Want The Airwaves) are right up there with the best Ramones songs. Pleasant Dreams makes a timely return on yellow vinyl, its status as one of the best Record Store Day 2023 releases secure, thanks to the inclusion of three extra tracks and alternate artwork from the vaults.

Must hear: The KKK Took My Baby Away

15: David Bowie: ‘Laughing With Liza: The Vocalian & Deram Singles 1964-1967 +’ (5 x 7” singles box)

David Bowie flew below the mainstream radar prior to the release of his breakthrough single, Space Oddity, in 1969, but he recorded a selection of fascinating early singles (and a lone, self-titled album) as he found his feet as an artist. Now collected in a neat box that happily takes up shelf space among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases, those early sides included the quirky pop of Love You ’Til Tuesday and the whimsical The Laughing Gnome. Curios compared with what was to come, they offer fascinating insight into Bowie’s development as an artist.

Must hear: Love You Till Tuesday

14: Jerry Harrison: ‘The Red And The Black’ (2LP, red and black vinyl, 6,500 copies)

The early 80s was quite a time for Talking Heads fans. Not only were the band releasing seminal albums such as Remain In Light, but the individual members all weighed in with memorable solo projects. David Byrne and Brian Eno’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts copped the critical plaudits, while Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth won hearts with Tom Tom Club. However, guitarist/keyboardist Jerry Harrison was the dark horse, with his underrated solo debut, 1981’s The Red And The Black, tapping into a dense and fascinating seam of urban funk. Still ripe for rediscovery, the record returns as part of a suitably fetching red and black vinyl set; it’s been recut from the original master tapes and comes with a disc of previously unreleased outtakes and alternate mixes.

Must hear: Things Fall Apart

13: Scott Weiland: ‘12 Bar Blues’ (2LP, blue/green vinyl, 7,500 copies)

Recorded while Stone Temple Pilots were on hiatus following the release of their third album, Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop, Scott Weiland’s solo debut, 12 Bar Blues, was a radical stylistic departure built on drum loops and tumbling keyboards instead of STP’s grungy guitars. Coming in a sleeve which paid homage to the artwork for jazz saxophonist John Coltrane’s Blue Train album, the record also featured contributions from an all-star cast, among them Sheryl Crow and Daniel Lanois. Out of print for some years, 12 Bar Blues returns on vinyl in time to be included among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases, its position secure thanks to the inclusion of two previously unreleased tracks, plus an unreleased demo of the album highlight, Barbarella.

Must hear: Barbarella

12: Yes: ‘Live At Knoxville Civic Auditorium’ (3LP, black vinyl, 9,000 copies)

Arguably the pinnacle of their career, Yes’ fifth album, Close To The Edge, captured the band at the very height of their prog-rock pomp, yet it also reaped commercial rewards, peaking at No.3 on the Billboard 200. Straddling 1972 and 1973, the massive 90-date world tour that followed was equally grandiose, and it yielded Live At Knoxville Civic Auditorium, one of the epic concerts originally rounded up for the Progeny: Seven Shows From Seventy-Two box set. Now afforded a standalone release for Record Store Day 2023, Live At The Knoxville Auditorium is a breathtaking listen, with the band on scintillating form on Roundabout and Close To The Edge’s Herman Hesse-inspired title track.

Must hear: Roundabout

11: Various Artists: ‘Psyche France: Vol.8’ (black vinyl)

Ongoing since 2014, the Nuggets-like Psyche France series has gone from strength to strength, its compilers’ dedication to trawling the vaults leading them to turn up obscure psych-pop treasures from the 60s and 70s. The eighth title in this self-explanatory series is one of the finest, too, with all manner of unsung Gallic visionaries such as Les Masters, Voyage and Quo Vadis (who deliver 1972’s suitably-titled, Led Zeppelin-esque Zeppelin Party) all relishing the opportunity to strut their stuff for a new generation.

Must hear: Zeppelin Party (by Quo Vadis)

10: Duran Duran: ‘Rio Carnival’ (red/blue swirl vinyl, 10,000 copies)

By the time Duran Duran dropped their second album, 1982’s Rio, they were well on the way to becoming global pop icons. However, while the Brummie boys were storming up the charts, they penetrated deeper into clubland by releasing the Carnival EP: a smart, dancefloor- (and radio-) friendly collection whose tracklist varied by country. One of the best Record Store Day 2023 releases, Rio Carnival expands the original EP into a six-song release which includes every remix issued under the original Carnival banner, among them Night Versions of Hungry Like The Wolf and Rio.

Must hear: Rio (Night Version)

9: Tori Amos: ‘Little Earthquakes Rarities’ (black vinyl, 14,500 copies)

Tori Amos’ esteemed debut album, Little Earthquakes, was one of the most celebrated releases of 1992, going on to move well over three million copies as it introduced a major new talent to the world. Resulting in more material than could ever have fit on one album, the Little Earthquake sessions are remembered for producing some of the best Tori Amos songs, and the era’s non-album B-sides are now collected on vinyl for the first time, as Little Earthquakes Rarities. Several of Tori Amos’ self-penned tracks (Upside Down, Song For Eric) are excellent on their own terms, though it’s her otherworldly cover of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit which steals the thunder here.

Must hear: Smells Like Teen Spirit

8: Van Halen: ‘Right Here, Right Now’ (4LP, translucent red vinyl, 7,500 copies)

Van Halen’s first official live album, Right Here, Right Now, did double-platinum business on CD in 1993, but is only now making its vinyl debut (on translucent red wax) for Record Store Day 2023. Recorded in May 1992, on the tour supporting one of the best Van Halen albums, the triple-platinum For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, Right Here, Right Now is an enviably sprightly document of the band’s Sammy Hagar-fronted iteration, and includes hits such Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love, Panama and the inevitable Jump, plus three previously unreleased live cuts, among them an excellent version of Mine All Mine, originally available on a Europe-only CD maxi single.

Must hear: Jump

7: The Sisters Of Mercy: ‘The Reptile House EP’ (smoky vinyl, 9,500 copies)

During their early years, The Sisters Of Mercy weren’t fully-fledged goth überlords, but they did amass a sizeable fanbase and issue some fantastically moody post-punk records through their own Merciful Release imprint.

Featuring the band’s first serious line-up, with vocalist Andrew Eldritch and ever-faithful drum machine Doktor Avalanche joined by bassist Craig Adams and guitarists Gary Marx and Ben Gunn, May 1983’s slow, atmospheric The Reptile House EP punctuated their initial string of rep-building singles, Alice, Anaconda and Temple Of Love, picking up significant airplay and even gaining a US release. Though an established fan favourite, the EP has been long out of print, so its return on smoky vinyl makes it a shoo-in among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases.

Must hear: Burn

6: The Pogues: ‘The Stiff Records B-sides (1984-1987)’ (2LP, black and green marbled vinyl, 6,500 copies)

Rowdy and unpredictable from the off, Anglo-Irish folk-punk pioneers The Pogues were also ceaselessly creative, ensuring that their classic early singles, such as Dark Streets Of London, Sally MacLennane and A Pair Of Brown Eyes, were backed with the gems now buffed up for the self-explanatory The Stiff Records B-sides (1984-1987). Fittingly pressed on black and green marbled vinyl, this highly fertile collection includes evergreens among the best Pogues songs, among them A Rainy Night In Soho, two collaborations with The Dubliners (The Irish Rover and Mountain Dew) and the band’s brilliant take of Eric Bogle’s anti-war epic And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

Must hear: And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

5: Stevie Nicks: ‘Bella Donna Live 1981’ (2LP, 14,000 copies)

Another title making its vinyl debut among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases, Bella Donna Live captures Stevie Nicks on stage during her White Winged Dove Tour, at Los Angeles’ Fox Wilshire Theatre, on 13 December 1981. Part of the tour to promote Nicks’ quadruple platinum solo debut album, Bella Donna, the show features sublime versions of many highlights among the best Stevie Nicks songs (Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Leather And Lace, Edge Of Seventeen), in addition to Fleetwood Mac perennials Gold Dust Woman, Dreams, Sara and Rhiannon.

Must hear: Edge Of Seventeen

4: Blur: ‘Blur Present The Special Collectors Edition’ (2LP, blue vinyl, 20,000 copies)

One of Blur’s choicest rarities, Blur Present The Special Collectors Edition was originally released on CD in Japan only, in 1994. Consisting of the B-sides from the Britpop heroes’ singles from the Leisure, Modern Life Is Rubbish and Parklife albums, it features fan favourites such as Badgeman Brown and When The Cows Come Home, and concludes with an a cappella version of Bank Holiday, performed in tribute by the band’s fans at Narita Airport in Tokyo. It finally makes its vinyl debut for Record Store Day 2023, in a two-disc edition on blue wax.

Must hear: Badgeman Brown

3: Grateful Dead: ‘Boston Garden, Boston, MA 5/7/77’ (5LP box set, 11,000 copies)

Arguably the first rock band to embrace the bootlegging industry, Grateful Dead allowed fans to record their concerts, resulting in a live discography that vastly outweighs their studio output. However, for curious newcomers, the sheer weight of titles on offer can be daunting, especially for those looking for an accessible entry point.

A welcome addition to the best Record Store Day 2023 releases, the Boston Garden, Boston, MA 5/7/77 box set is perhaps as good a place to start as any. Captured during Jerry Garcia and co’s three-night jaunt along the the US East Coast in May 1977, which also took in shows in Ithaca and Buffalo, in New York state, this live set was initially issued as part of the extensive Get Shown The Light box set, which featured all three gig in their entirety, plus another highly-rated performance from New Haven, Connecticut.

Now issued as a standalone set, the Boston Garden recording is a thrill from start to finish, with the emphasis on songs, rather than the band’s customary jamming. The extensive, multi-disc collection features many of the best Grateful Dead songs (Bertha, Cassidy, Jack Straw, Terrapin Station and Wharf Rat among them), and it makes for one of the most essential entries in the Dead’s labyrinthine live catalogue.

Must hear: Bertha

2: David Byrne: ‘The Complete Score From “The Catherine Wheel”’ (2LP, 11,500 copies)

Another notable extra-curricular project from Talking Heads’ fecund early 80s, frontman David Byrne’s score for director and choreographer Twyla Tharp’s off-Broadway production The Catherine Wheel first appeared as a standalone release in 1982, attracting widespread critical acclaim.

Even without its visual counterpart, the soundtrack remains a highly engaging listen, comprising of fascinating instrumental mood pieces (Light Bath, Wheezing, The Blue Flame) intercut with a clutch of songs (Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open), His Wife Refused, My Big Hands (Fall Through The Cracks), What A Day That Was) that bear comparison with the best Talking Heads songs from the Remain In Light and Speaking In Tongues eras. The Catherine Wheel has previously been available on wax in truncated, single-disc form, but Byrne’s complete score is now faithfully reproduced across four sides of vinyl, which more than earns it a spot among the best Record Store Day 2023 releases.

Must hear: What A Day That Was

1: Various Artists: ‘Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era (1964-1968)’ (5LP box set, 10,000 copies)

Still the daddy of all 60s psychedelic pop collections, the original double-disc Nuggets was lovingly compiled by music writer and future Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, under the supervision of Elektra Records’ boss Jac Holzman, in 1972. Inspiring the early punk movement, the compilation also laid the groundwork for further 60s psych-pop collections, such as the multi-volume Pebbles series, before expanding to four discs for a CD box set reissue in 1998.

The original Nuggets showcased a few acts, such as The Electric Prunes, 13th Floor Elevators and The Shadows Of Knight, who did enjoy a bit of a career (or at least established a legend) in music, though many of the acts featured on its additional discs rapidly disappeared back into obscurity, leaving behind just one fantastic single to prove they existed. Collectively, though, these short-lived 60s US outfits bequeathed us a seminal psych-flavoured smorgasbord to tuck into – one which vinyl lovers can again greedily chow down on thanks to the expanded Nuggets’ first appearance on wax. A seminal collection, this 5LP edition easily tops our list of the best Record Store Day 2023 releases.

Must hear: I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (The Electric Prunes)

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