History will be made Saturday, April 21, 2018.
I know this to be true: Rhino Records told me so in its latest newsletter.
“Breaking news!” it began — not a term used lightly by today’s information sources. “Led Zeppelin’s first ever Record Store Day release!”
(Exclamation marks added but absolutely necessary.)
And so we prepare for the dawn of a new era. A generational event in the music world surely on a par with such landmark occasions as The Beatles’ arrival to the iTunes library, The Dave Clark Five’s first official CD release and Caruso’s controversial move to vinyl from wax cylinder.
(Fun fact: Led Zeppelin’s chosen format for each new release was the vinyl record. Of course, back then what we now know as Record Store Day was referred to in retail outlets as Saturday.)
Small wonder the Record Store Day website’s main page is dominated by a clock that counts down the days, hours, minutes and, yes, seconds ’til that essential addition to the Zep discography enters our lives. (There are probably other releases poised to make life worthwhile, but it’s safe to say this one will make the others look like a pile of puke.)
The seven-inch single pairs the sought-after Sunset Sound mix of Rock and Roll with the (probably) acclaimed Olympic Studios mix of Friends. And as any Zepophile will tell you, you are not truly a fan if you do not compare and contrast mixes from multiple studios. Moreover, this single will be pressed on yellow vinyl. That’s yellow — considered by many audiophiles to be the best-sounding colour for vinyl records.
It is, I hardly need add, a “limited edition,” it says here. As in, limited to the number of copies Rhino figures it can sell, less a hundred or so. Perhaps you have been wondering about those lineups already forming outside your favourite RSD-friendly shop. Wonder no more.
Don’t get me wrong. This is an investment. Get your hands on one (and you won’t) and you’ve got a nice little nest egg to pass down to the kids. Or, more likely, to sell immediately on eBay for thrice the price paid. Five times the price, if you include the emotional cost and bruises you will no doubt sustain while jostling for one of the two copies on offer at your chosen store.
This, even as my extra copy of former Habs not-so-great Gilbert Delorme’s exercise record continues to elicit not a single bid.
And so the clock continues to count down to the apogee of the music industry’s storied history. Planning to start your vinyl record collection in 2018? You can safely stop April 22, secure in the knowledge that you have the only record you will ever need.
If, again, you succeed at locating a copy. Which you won’t. Nor will I.
Now, some will deride Record Store Day and its calculated collectors’ items as everything wrong with the music business of today. I have said as much, when not purchasing those Kinks 45s, or that Zombies BBC collection, or Shadowy Men’s cool box set. Admittedly, I am not in a position to protest too much.
After all, I appreciate a limited-edition “collectors’ item” as much as the next person. Take, for example, the 1975 Canada-only reissue of the Buckingham Nicks album. I well remember the happy day I scored a copy of that investment at a thrift store some years ago. I knew I had hit the jackpot, collector-wise, the moment I spotted the words printed on the album’s front cover: “Collectors item.” If only major labels could always be so helpful to the discerning buyer.
Today, said Mac-related item can fetch some $30 in collectors’ circles. With that sort of money, one can nearly afford a new release.
But not, I’ll wager, a copy of that Led Zeppelin RSD gem.
That item, as Rhino Records will tell you, is priceless.