Here are three musical gems with Philly connections to look out for on Record Store Day 2022.
Philly as a whole may or may not be experiencing a return to pandemic infection’s highs. Who’s to say, as our mayor just dropped the mask mandate, again, just days after reinstating it. But as far as big spending shoppers go for April 23’s Record Store Day, the annual celebration of independent record stores, vinyl releases, and the big spenders who love their vinyl, cassette, and CD rarities, go, it’s on, full-steam.
That means Philly shoppers won’t have to face another season of smaller, monthly RSDDs: the more manageable Record Store Day Drops that come with fewer releases and lesser crowds. Now, back to normal, everyone can sweat for spring and crowd around the bins and boxes (then again, there’s another small batch RSD on June 18, something focused on rarities, to say nothing of November’s usual Black Friday Record Store Day so I’m as confused as you are…Enjoy that!) while breathing heavily.
What of Philly music, however, is part of April 23’s Record Store Day?
Though not from the area, specifically, the original Philadelphia-born Ruffhouse label (through Legacy) celebrates both Cypress Hill’s self-titled debut album’s 30th anniversary AND this week’s weed holiday with the vinyl The 420 Remixes. Here, two of Cypress Hill’s two favorite tracks – “How I Could Just Kill a Man” and “Hand on the Pump” – get remixed and released on 10-inch black vinyl, as part of Record Store Day’s 15th anniversary.
The great, late Hasaan Ibn Ali was a Philadelphia born-bred jazz pianist and composer who stayed in his hometown until his death in 1980, and all-but (quietly) innovated his self-taught brand of rapid fire, tirelessly rhythmic playing. Such intensity, forever, could only be found on his lone recording – The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan – was released during his time on earth. Now, however – with little known about the whys and wherefores of its discovery – is Retrospect In Retirement Of Delay: The Solo Recordings, spread across four vinyl LPs. A big find, and worth whatever it costs.
The most famous of all the April 23 Record Store Day finds, however, is Elton John’s The Complete Thom Bell Sessions. After making nice with the area through “Philadelphia Freedom” (and our local tennis team), the Brit – like David Bowie before him a la Young Americans – sought comfort in N. 12th Street’s Sigma Sound Studio, and the stringed soulful tones of the Sound of Philadelphia.
To that end, Elton wound up hooking up with composing-arranging maestro Thom Bell and recording six original songs of which he only used three for a 1979 EPs release – “Mama Can’t Buy You Love”, “Are You Ready for Love” and “Three Way Love Affair”. Recorded with the brass and strings of MFSB, drummer Charles Collins and guitarists Casey James and Leroy M. Bell, the EP didn’t rocket up the charts (at that time, in the US, few knew what to make of an EP) and the Bell Sessions got lost in the sauce.
Several years later, Elton dropped an EP version with all of its Philly-made tracks including a Bernie Taupin co-composition with Elton, “Nice and Slow” which Bell arranged. This nearly-lost R&B-driven find is worth reviving, even if to hear The Spinners backing up Elton, and shining through.