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April 2024 Record Store Day LPs from Rhino and Warner

04-18-2024 | By Tom Gibbs | Issue 132

Rhino Entertainment has an impressive slate of limited-edition LPs available for the upcoming Saturday, April 20th celebration of Record Store Day 2024 (RSD). Rhino's extensive offering of rarities and specialty releases are only a few of the hundreds of exciting albums that will be available from both online sources and at independent record stores everywhere. Rhino's RSD April, 2024 offering features 39 exclusive releases, covering an impressive gamut of artists and genres. All are limited editions, and many are being made available in colored vinyl variants. The list of artists featured in their RSD offering includes limited edition and rare reissues from David Bowie, Dwight Yoakam, Foghat, Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, The Grateful Dead, Linda Ronstadt, Lowell George, The Notorious B.I.G., Psyche France, The Replacements, Talking Heads, Willie Nelson, and Yes. Limited edition and rare colored vinyl LPs will be available from Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Chase Atlantic, Cheech & Chong, Dead By Sunrise, The Doors, Electrafixion,The English Beat, Faces, Farm Dogs, Feti Wap, Jimmy Cliff, Lil Uzi Vert, Mudhoney, The Other Two, The Ramones, The Sisters of Mercy, Todd Rundgren, Tom Verlaine, Wallows, and Young Thug. And really cool picture disc LPs are being offered from AIR, The Cure, Dio, and Fleetwood Mac. 

I received a selection of five album titles for review, including Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke, Limited 420 Edition on a 140 gram smokin' green LP, David Bowie's Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth) on a 180 gram black LP, Linda Ronstadt's The Asylum Albums (1973-1977) on (four) 140 gram black LPs, Lowell George's Thanks, I'll Eat it Here (Deluxe Edition) on (two) 140 gram black LPs, and finally, Todd Rundgren's Todd on (two) orange and green 140 gram LPs. Rhino allows a certain amount of latitude in RSD pricing to the independent locations and online outlets participating in the event, so the actual prices for these albums may differ slightly at the point of sale. You can see a list of all outlets participating in RSD 2024 by clicking HERE

Cheech & Chong, Up In Smoke, Limited 420 Edition. 140 gram smokin' green LP.

Comedy duo Cheech & Chong's movie Up In Smoke was their big breakthrough in 1978; following the success of the motion picture, this "soundtrack" LP of sorts was released to cash in on the movie's popularity. Aside from a lavish and expensive 40th anniversary deluxe edition set that happened to feature an LP along with everything else in the package, it's been out of print domestically for forty-plus years. Rhino's new RSD 2024 version appears to simply extricate the LP from all the other extraneous materials in the deluxe edition, as the 140 gram smokin' green LP is identical to the anniversary version. The gatefold jacket is really cool, and features a great full-panel image of Cheech & Chong on its interior.

Up In Smoke, 420 Limited Edition actually borrows material from everything Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong had done up to that point on album, and the record is a mish-mash of outtakes from the movie along with musically cool and often hilarious numbers (pun intended!). Most of the music tracks are surprisingly high quality and feature well-known LA session musicians like Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel supporting Cheech and Chong on numbers like "Up In Smoke," "Framed" and "Earache My Eye." And of course, there's War's classic "Low Rider"—what would any doper movie be without this classic tune as part of the soundtrack? The smokin' green vinyl looks beautiful and sounds great, and this RSD exclusive offers a perfect opportunity to pick up on a long out-of-print classic. Highly recommended, and a joyful opportunity to revisit the less stressful times of the late seventies—and the gags are just as funny now as they were way back when!

David Bowie, Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth), 180 gram black LP.

On RSD 2024, and in commemoration of the 77th birthday of David Bowie, Parlophone and Rhino are offering Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth). The album's name comes from a line in the song "Starman," which along with "Suffragette City" and "Rock and Roll Suicide" had not yet been recorded. Waiting in the Sky's eleven tracks were taken from the original provisional quarter-inch tapes made at Trident Studios in 1971 that would eventually become The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Those tapes featured a different track list and running order, along with four songs that didn't make the final cut of Ziggy Stardust. Including the longtime fan favorite, non-album tracks "Holy Holy" and "Velvet Goldmine." Rhino's limited edition LP features a Brian Ward photo of David Bowie on its outer jacket that was taken in an early Ziggy Stardust era publicity shoot. And the jacket features a high gloss coating that gives it a very limited edition appearance; hey, it is a very limited edition, after all! The half-speed mastered, 180 gram LP was cut on a customized Neumann VMS80 lathe by John Webber at AIR Studios in London. 

The first three tracks on side one obviously made the final cut for Ziggy Stardust, as they replicate the eventual album release. That's the point where things get a bit interesting, with the Chuck Berry tune "Round and Round" taking the place of the yet to be written "Starman." It's is an excellent performance that features some raucous guitar work from Mick Ronson, but seems rather disjointed in place of the expected "Starman." That's followed by another cover, Bowie's take on Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam," which subs for the eventual album's "It Ain't Easy." It's actually a really great performance, and exhibits more of the Ziggy Stardust vibe than the preceding track. Side two jumbles the track list more liberally, opening with "Hang On To Yourself" before proceeding to "Ziggy Stardust." Then the fun starts, with successive performances of "Velvet Goldmine" and "Holy Holy," which both offer performances that would have made them perfectly at home in Ziggy Stardust! The album concludes with "Star" and "Lady Stardust"; despite the seemingly disjointed nature of this album, I found it to be a complete blast, and the four previous non-album tunes were really exciting to hear in this context!

The sound quality of the album is incredible; the transfers and lacquers cut for Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth) are textbook examples of how a limited edition album like this should be done. I'm blown away by this RSD 2024 offering, and it definitely needs to be at the top of your list! If I weren't holding this record in my hands, I'd be grabbing a sleeping bag and camping out Friday night. I can't recommend Waiting in the Sky highly enough, and seriously suggest that you get in line or online early on Saturday!

Linda Ronstadt, The Asylum Albums (1973-1977). (four) 140 gram black LPs.

At the point when I received the email alerting me to Rhino's RSD 2024 offerings, I completely misunderstood the listing for Linda Ronstadt's The Asylum Albums (1973-77), and totally zoned out on what was actually being offered in the set. I thought at first it was a selection of tracks from all of her Asylum label albums scattered over four LPs, but later figured out that the new RSD box actually contained four complete LPs from the 1973-1977 period. Including Don't Cry Now (1973), Prisoner In Disguise (1975), Hasten Down The Wind (1976), and Simple Dreams (1977). Which was great, until I realized that Linda's classic Heart Like a Wheel (1974)—which was originally released on Capitol but was soon transferred over to Asylum—would not be included in the set, and that totally bummed me out! It is what it is, but I'd really liked to have seen that fifth LP included for RSD 2024!

All that aside, the 4-LP set is encased in a really nice hardboard, tip-on box with a beautiful image of Linda on the cover, and the four individual albums are presented in their original gatefold outer jackets. Except for Don't Cry Now, which was always a single sleeve jacket. The jackets are surprisingly well done, and the artwork sourced for these reissues is actually fairly crisp—I own all four originals, and the reissues are surprisingly close in appearance. Prisoner In Disguise features a debossed inset with a picture of Linda on the front cover, and it matches the original almost exactly. Three of the four albums also featured printed paper inner sleeves, and that configuration also matched that of my Asylum label originals I had on hand for comparison. The outer box displayed a sticker proclaiming "Made in Germany," and the 140 gram LPs were all very pristine and glossy looking. The new pressings were all perfectly flat, and were supremely quiet during playback, with zero ticks or pops and very little groove-related noise. The four LPs bettered the sound of my original pressings in every way possible, and were quieter and more dynamic sounding than the originals.

This is a seriously impressive package, and if you're a fan of Linda Ronstadt's classic period and don't happen to have the original albums, it's definitely a must have. Now let's see if perhaps Rhino will reissue the next phase of her Asylum label catalog. Very highly recommended!

Lowell George, Thanks, I'll Eat It Here (Deluxe Edition). (two) 140 gram black LPs.

Multi-instrumentalist Lowell George was one of the founding members of the band Little Feat; he was the principal songwriter and vocalist for the band, as well as performing most of the guitar work on many of their classic albums. Little Feat experienced impressive album sales, but toured relentlessly, and this took a toll on the band, with tensions eventually erupting between George, pianist and vocalist Bill Payne, and guitarist Paul Barrere. At the point when Little Feat disbanded in early 1979, they already had another album recorded, Down On The Farm, but its release was delayed by the band's breakup. Lowell George then entered the studio and recorded and produced his solo album Thanks, I'll Eat It Here, which was released in March, 1979. George unfortunately led an overindulgent lifestyle of binge-eating, drinking, and drugs, and died a couple of months later of a heroin and cocaine-induced heart attack while touring in support of the album. Down On The Farm, which was the last Little Feat album to feature Lowell George, was finally released following his untimely death.

On Thanks, I'll Eat It Here, Lowell George was backed by an A-list cast of LA studio musicians and a handful of former members of Little Feat. Rhino's RSD 2024 Deluxe Edition features two remastered 140 gram LPs with new lacquers cut by Bernie Grundman from the original master tapes. The first LP features the original album tracks; the second LP features previously unreleased outtakes and alternate takes from the recording sessions. Members of Lowell George's family were involved in this new release and contributed to the excellent new liner notes for Thanks, I'll Eat It Here (Deluxe Edition). Their remembrances of Lowell George and his excitement for this album are enlightening and often poignant. The sound quality is superb here; Bernie Grundman was definitely on his A game for this release, and it was an absolute joy to hear this album again after such a very long time. 

Other than a limited release from Friday Music in 2018, the LP has been out of print domestically since its release, and none of the bonus materials—which are all superb, by the way—have ever been made available in any LP format. Thanks, I'll Eat It Here (Deluxe Edition) plays like the great Little Feat album that never was—I can't recommend this RSD 2024 version highly enough!

Todd Rundgren, Todd. (two) 140 gram orange and green LPs.

Following the success of his acclaimed 1972 double album Something/Anything?, Todd Rundgren began experimenting heavily with psychedelics. That album's follow-up, 1973's A Wizard, a True Star, was more experimental in nature. It lacked its predecessor's chart-topping pop songs, and despite receiving critical praise, was a commercial failure. Unfazed by this, Rundgren began his next venture, the more prog-oriented Utopia, but canceled the band's tour after only two weeks on the road due to technical issues with the band's overly ambitious stage show. He retreated to the studio in July that same year to begin work on his fifth studio album, Todd. Which basically picked up where Wizard left off, only in a more synthesized, guitar-heavy version that explored a wider mix of musical genres. The album debuted in 1974 to mixed critical reviews and modest commercial success, but has been reconsidered in the years since. Other than a handful of limited edition reissues, Todd has widely been out-of-print since its original release. 

Rhino's 50th Anniversary, 2-LP reissue of Todd features a pair of 140 gram, semi-transparent orange and green LPs—the first LP is orange, and the second LP is green. Both LPs were perfectly flat, had glossy surfaces, and showed no imperfections whatsoever. Todd was definitely the wild card of all the RSD 2024 releases for me; not having previously heard the album, but knowing that it was on the cusp of his involvement with Utopia, I had a feeling it would be interesting, to say the least! That's an understatement, but it's an intensely eclectic album that I found surprisingly entertaining for much of the duration of its run time. Holding a longtime fascination with Rundgren's masterpiece Something/Anything?, back in the day, I picked up this album dozens of times in record stores, but never walked out the door with it. Todd's only real hit, "A Dream Goes On Forever," got significant airplay and is a definite nod to the vibe of Rundgren's biggest selling record from a few years earlier. It's finally great to have this LP in my collection, and for Todd Rundgren fans, this album is a must-have, especially in its cool, limited edition RSD 2024 incarnation. Recommended!

Record Store Day 2024 is Almost Here!

While I regularly see a lot of albums available on Record Store Days that I mainly regard to be fluff, or perhaps only for die-hard collectors or completists, there were at least 20 titles—over half of Rhino's offerings for April 20, 2024—that I'd love to get my hands on! I was particularly pumped to get Bowie's Waiting in the Sky (Before the Starman Came to Earth), as well as Linda Ronstadt's The Asylum Albums (1973-1977), neither of which disappointed. If I had one complaint about the whole RSD process, it's the scarcity of advance information regarding the tape sources for the new remasters and lacquers cut for the LPs. And a lack of more specific information regarding the personnel involved, and where the LPs were pressed. That said, I had zero complaints about any of Rhino's offerings I received in terms of the quality of the pressings, or the overall sound quality and packaging of the LPs. The colored vinyl LPs were exceptionally beautiful, and I felt that all five albums or sets I received were quite desirable as well as highly collectible. I'd get in line or online early on Saturday, as many of these outstanding titles will very likely sell out quickly!

Rhino Entertainment


All images courtesy of Rhino Entertainment