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Vocalo’s Picks for Record Store Day

Written by on June 11, 2021

On Saturday, June 12th, Record Store Day is back!  The day also marks a triumphant return to in-store shopping, as Chicago officially reopens on June 11th. RSD is a day of celebration for independent record stores where hundreds of rare, out-of-print, unique, never-before-heard, or otherwise special records are released in very limited quantities in record stores across America. 

RSD is a day for audiophiles, music nerds, vinyl junkies, and Discogs dependents who sometimes wish they were born in a past generation when they see the median price on an original Sun Ra record. It is also, however, a great opportunity for newer record collectors to visit a local shop they’ve been meaning to visit, get in on the festivities and have their chance at getting some limited-edition wax. 

Chicagoans, you’re in luck.  There’s a large selection of independent stores to choose from around town with over fifteen shops that have taken the Record Store Day Pledge, “to act in the spirit of Record Store Day, and sell the commercial Record Store Day releases to their physical customers, on Record Store Day; not to gouge them, or hold product back to sell them online.” This gives you, the consumer and the music lover, the best possible chance at getting the albums you want without having to pay the mark-ups that resellers will inevitably be charging after the fact. 

To promote social distancing, the releases are being split between two days: June 12th and July 17th

These are our picks from the first drop (in alphabetical order): 

Brotha Lynch Hung & C-Bo

Blocc Movement

Notorious Sacramento rappers Brotha Lynch Hung and C-Bo came together for this classic 2001 record. This album of heavy and gnarly West Coast hip hop is released for the first time on vinyl and features a clear disk with blue splatter.

Chief Keef 


The Chicago-born “Godfather of Drill” Chief Keef also has a first-time-on-vinyl release with this pressing of 2017’s Dedication. A year and a half after tweeting of his retirement from rapping, Keef released this acclaimed album that The Guardian called his “most satisfying album to date.” 2000 copies of this double LP will be pressed.


Meddle With Metal

2018’s Czarface Meets Metal Face was a bold collaboration between supergroup Czarface and the unparalleled MF DOOM. Superb lyricism as well as the uniqueness and creativity of the sample-based beats made this record particularly memorable. This single is the second song on the album, “Meddle with Metal,” and is pressed on a tiny 3-inch vinyl record requiring a Record Store Day mini turntable to play. Clad in a special sleeve and poster, this is sure to become a sought-after collectable. 

Freddie Gibs & Madlib

Piñata: The 1984 Version

As a follow-up to last year’s Record Store Day release of Piñata ‘74, (which sported a cover paying homage to Blaxploitation film posters), Piñata ‘84 will feature a brand-new Miami Vice-esque 80’s cover. In addition to the new cover, the record (which in its original iteration was released in 2014) was half speed remastered in London for the highest possible sound quality and is sure to make your stereo sound just about as good as it ever has.

Fela Kuti and The Africa ‘70

Open & Close

Fifty years after its original release, Open & Close is getting its first official American pressing! This classic blend of traditional Nigerian music with jazz and funk has been extremely hard to find on vinyl is getting the true RSD treatment with a recreation of the original gatefold jacket and will feature red and yellow “butterfly effect” vinyl. This long overdue repress of the legendary Fela Kuti and The Africa ‘70 album is filled with infectious grooves, fiery drumming and those legendary horns the group is renowned for. 

Thelonious Monk

Palo Alto: The Custodian’s Mix

This record is an incredible document of one of the most renowned and influential jazz pianists of all time. Recorded by a school janitor at Palo Alto High School where Monk’s quartet performed in 1968, these tapes sat unheard by the public for over fifty years until last year when they were first publicly released. Pitchfork calls this recording one of the “fiercest, most spirited versions of his quartet’s core repertoire,” and truly feels like a trip back in time to that auditorium where some lucky teenagers got the chance to hear such inspired music. 

Mulatu Astake

Mochilla Presents Timeless: Mulatu Astatke

Mulatu Astatke, the “Father of Ethio-Jazz” is a performer and composer of legendary status in Ethiopia and has steadily broken through to popular acclaim in the West. His music is nostalgic, haunting and highly emotional. This double album is a recording of a sold-out 2009 concert where Astatke performed many of his classic songs with iconic members of the L.A. jazz community including Bennie Maupin and Azar Lawrence. 

Slum Village

Fantastic Volume II: 20th Anniversary Edition

20 years after its original release, Fantastic Volume II continues to influence and amaze listeners and musicians alike. The hip hop group’s second album, and last with producer J Dilla, had a highly impactful production style that garnered near-universal acclaim. It was even claimed to have “single-handedly save rap music” by a critic at the Pheonix New Times. Fantastic Volume II is stacked with features from Q-Tip, D’Angelo, Busta Rhymes, Pete Rock, Jazzy Jeff, and Common, among others. 

Various Artists

Rough Guide to Booze & Blues, Rough Guide to Prison Blues, and Rough Guide to Gamblin’ and Ramblin’ Blues

The Rough Guide series of records is a staple of Record Store Day with new records released each year highlighting specific areas of music that are rarely found in American record stores. The three albums getting a release this year each focus on a different blues topic: alcohol, prison, and gambling. Notable musicians include: Blind Willie McTell, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, Blind Blake, and Skip James.

Various Artists 

Songs For You, Volume 1

This record is being released in collaboration with Vans as a fundraiser for Black-owned record stores. It spotlights Black artists, both contemporary and from generations past, who have each made unique and important contributions to their respective genres. Highlights include Roberta Flack singing an unreleased cover of Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On” as well as tracks from Lupe Fiasco, Common, Esperanza Spalding, and Freddie Gibbs. 

Written by Erik Anderson

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