Record Store Day is always a treat for music junkies focused on rarities and sonic oddities — a treasure trove of vinyl, and now CDs and cassettes. And although the epic annual holiday occurs in the Spring, RSD’s legendarily quieter, but equally valuable sister event, the Black Friday vinyl sales explosion, is here.
There may be slightly less to pour over and pick through for crate diggers during 2023’s Record Store Day Black Friday, but make no mistake, on Nov. 24, you’ll have plenty of vinyl, CD and cassette options to sort through… many of them Philadelphia and New Jersey-based.
The biggest Philly find in 2023 — and really, almost any year — is the first-time RSD release for legendary West Philadelphia hip hop artist and gangster rap icon Schoolly D. The polar opposite to his nice guy Overbrook area neighbors the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) and Jazzy Jeff, Schoolly D’s 1985 was a hip hop first: a cinema verite-like lyrical look at the crime, grime and drugs happening on the block. Along with the raw, honest portrayal of Philly street life in the mid-80s, Schoolly and DJ Red Alert made the sound of Schoolly D an ominously spare one — all cheap beating drum machines and voice pulsating through instant classics such as ‘P.S.K.’ ‘What Does It Mean?’ and ‘Gucci Time.’ For its first-ever RSD release, Schoolly D’s Black Friday gift comes in an exclusive color vinyl pressing.
The late singer-songwriter Gram Parsons didn’t hail from Philadelphia. He was Florida born, and made his bones bringing ragged country music traditionalism to California psychedelic pop and The Byrds in the mid-60s. But, Parsons brought the yawning country sounds of his debut solo album, ‘GP’, on the road in 1973, and to Stephen Starr’s intimate Lombard Street live music and comedy club, the Bijou Café for one of the last dates he shared with his Fallen Angels band and background singer Emmylou Harris. The recorded evidence of that never-before-heard club concert comes on Black Friday with Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels’ ‘The Last Roundup: Live from the Bijou Cafe in Philadelphia March 16th, 1973‘. Word has it that during their three-night sand at the Bijou, Parsons’ pedal steel player Neil Flanz thought that the Fallen Angels sounded best on night three and requested a copy of the soundboard recording. Flanz saved the cassette and now, 50 years since that Philly live showcase, songs such as ‘Love Hurts’ come hauntingly alive on this first time, two-LP set.
Right outside of Philly city limits, in Toms River, New Jersey, came the screeching hair metal sounds of singer Sebastian Bach, bassist Rachel Bolan, guitarists Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill and drummer Rob Affuso — aka, Skid Row. Skid Row was a platinum-plated MTV-era ensemble whose ‘Slave to the Grind’ (1991) and ton ten hits such as ’18 and Life’ and ‘I Remember You’ rivaled even that of Bon Jovi for hair metal kings of New Jersey status. For RSD Black Friday 2023, the classic Skid Row lineup is re-releasing its ‘B-Side Ourselves’ EP. Originally released in 1992, this EP features the Jersey metal marauders covering their fave tracks ‘Psycho Therapy’ (The Ramones), ‘C’Mon And Love Me’ (KISS), ‘Delivering The Goods’ (Judas Priest), ‘What You’re Doing’ (RUSH), and ‘Little Wing’ (Jimi Hendrix), only now pressed on yellow and black marble vinyl. Devil horns, up.
And hardcore stoner rappers Cypress Hill may have been from the rolling hills of Los Angeles and all-points-West Coast, but they were famously signed to Philly’s Ruffhouse label and recorded their biggest hits for label bosses Chris Schwartz and producer Phil Nicolo. The RSD Black Friday release from Cypress Hill, the ‘Black Sunday’ 12 inch was recorded in 1993 – the height of their Ruffhouse fame – and drops two new, never-before-heard remixes of ‘Insane in the Brain’, and ‘Hits from The Bong’.