Musician St Vincent (Anne Erin Annie' Clark) was appointed ambassador for record
April 22 marked the 10th annual celebration of Record Store Day, an event celebrated across the world, where over 500 special, limited edition vinyl discs were released. India chipped in too, with Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bengaluru joining the "record" bandwagon, much thanks to Mumbai-based "The Revolver Club", an outlet where you can buy everything from vinyls to turntables which, in conjunction with Sony DADC, celebrated India’s very first Record Store Day.
In Mumbai, the day-long celebrations were supported by a Bandra-based book store, appropriately called Title Waves, and pub Bonobo, and by The Humming Tree in Bengaluru, and The Piano Man Jazz Club in New Delhi. Besides expected live performances, there were individuals providing engrossing insights on their passion behind vinyl, especially by Sunil Sampath who spoke about his ongoing enthusiasm in supporting records during the Mumbai event.
Celebrating Record Store Day in India this year had a little more significance as the brick-and-mortar stores of the past no longer exist. The last of the popular bastions fell last year when Mumbai’s popular Rhythm House, which downed its shutters on February 29. The day prior to the unfortunate closure, a Sunday, was an opportunity of reliving nostalgia as patrons — including me — and musicians alike frequented the outlet in hordes, culminating in an impromptu afternoon jam session that had musicians performing classic rock and rock ‘n’ roll, supported by Rhythm House owner Mehmood Curmally, along with Indian classical music supported by percussionist Anuradha Pal. A crescendo of sorts was achieved with a specially composed track by flautist Rajeev Raja, appropriately titled "Rhythm House Blues", that spoke of: "The music never died at this Rhythm House in town/You know it ain’t over as the shutters come down."
Music World was an earlier example of a retail chain selling physical content being closed but, even those retail chains that continue to exist — I can recall two outlets in Mumbai, Music Circle with owner Pilakbhai Bhatt probably having the country’s largest vinyl collection (from whose store, incidentally, I ordered Jethro Tull’s ‘Bursting Out’ CD just over a week ago), and The Revolver Club — have seen revenues significantly plummeting through the years. Take a look at Planet M, Crossword, or Landmark too.
Nevertheless, while it is now a given that digital streaming/downloads is the established base for music consumption, nothing changes the fact that the global music industry still attempts to celebrate the physical format — read vinyl discs — with Record Store Day. Officially founded in 2007, Record Store Day celebrates the once popular brick-and-mortar stores that still exist, supported not only by consumers but, more importantly, artistes themselves as they embark on releasing products exclusively on this memorable day, as well as making special appearances, holding live gigs at pubs/clubs, and initiating meet-and-greets with fans.
This year, several labels launched exclusive and/or limited edition vinyl to commemorate the Record Store Day where key releases arrived while honouring last year’s departed icons David Bowie (demise: January 10, 2016) and Prince (demise: April 21, 2016). Record Store Day saw the release of two David Bowie titles: "Cracked Actor" (a previously unreleased live recording from a Los Angeles performance of September 5, 1974), and "BOWPROMO" (a reproduction of one of Bowie’s earliest demos). Record Store Day also saw the launch of multiple, special 12" maxi-singles from none other than Prince, a musician who used to visit his local record store not only on Record Store Day but throughout the year too, as well the release of a 7" picture disc of "Little Red Corvette", with "1999" as its flip side.
Other major vinyl release on this eventful day also saw the recording of a Hammersmith Odeon London show from 1975 being released, courtesy Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (it became the first recording released of the band’s concert outside the US), and Sting’s "Live at the Bataclan", which chronicles the night, music returned to the Paris nightclub a year after the sordid terror attack.
This year, the ambassador for Record Store Day was St. Vincent, real name, Anne Erin "Annie" Clark, an American musician, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, who won a Grammy award for "Best Alternative Album" with her self-titled, fourth album, in 2014.
Just in case you have not done so already, be sure to mark Record Store Day on your calendar next year. It will certainly be a significant day for me as, by then, I intend to be the proud owner of a turntable after a gap of almost 20 years!
The writer has been part of the media and entertainment business for over 23 years. He continues to pursue his hobby and earns an income out of it.