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Record Store Day 2017: The Stories Behind 4 of the Coolest Releases

Record Store Day is turning 10 tomorrow, and artists and labels are once again using the occasion to release interesting, fun and head-turning packages. Here’s how four of this weekend’s most complicated and unique offerings came to be.

Gil Melle, The Andromeda Strain, Original Electronic Soundtrack (Jackpot Records, edition of 1,500)

What Is It?: Sourced from the original master tapes, the first ever American reissue of the tense, pioneering electronic soundtrack to the 1971 film The Andromeda Strain comes in a reproduction of the original album’s hexagon-shaped vinyl, reflective sleeve and die-cut cover.

Isaac Slusarenko, Jackpot Records: I’ve been working on the project for almost two years. It’s near impossible to find this record and jacket in good shape and I felt this would be perfect release for record stores on RSD 2017. Honestly, every part was a challenge to create, but I’d say the hardest part was to replicate the silver foil jacket [and] die-cut. The foil jackets were all custom made and hand-packaged. Everything is replicated right down to the original warning sticker for those who have automatic turntables: “Warning: Due to the unusual shape of this record, only use manual control on record player, or needle damage will result.” I think this maybe the first documented record with a warning that I can think of. It also has the folding instructions included on how to fold it back up.

Biggest headache was trying to make sure all the parts of the vinyl and packaging were completed on time. Even with planned production time and samples, coordinating all the pieces and the different companies was difficult. But the end result was exactly how I wanted it to be.

Czarface, First Weapon Drawn (Silver Age, edition of 2,000)

What Is It?: The superhero-obsessed hip-hop supergroup of Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric are dropping their “origin story.” The “read-along” comic book-and-seven-inch combinations of Seventies label Power Records brought stories of Superman, Batman and Spider-Man and this release pays tribute: a 24-page comic book by Gilberto Aguirre Mata with a record recorded by hired actors to bring the story to life.

7L: On the more traditional ‪Czarface albums the focus is always on us. For this one it’s all on Czarface, the character, so to speak. Deck would always say Czarface need his own TV show or movie, so that got us all thinking. We didn’t need Discogs [to get inspiration]. We have a pretty hefty collection of vinyl OSTs and the Read Along records dating back to the early Sixties.

Esoteric: I grew up on Marvel characters and naturally leaned towards the Seventies Spider-Man and Hulk records as they were the most accessible. I’d listen to the stories and my Dad would record me reading from the accompanying books. They built my vocab and were a source of escapism for me as a kid, so this Czarface story/soundtrack is essentially us escaping from a standard release and giving our fans an escape as well.

Obtaining the dialogue for this was essentially watching somebody else deliver what I write, and making sure they don’t sound like they’re selling you insurance or a Ford F-150 while doing it. There wasn’t a lot of room for typos either, since everything audio-wise is connected visually through the comic.

7L: From there I started making beats specific to the scenes and the action happening in them, then taking them to Jeremy [Page, musician] and he would replay them giving it more of a classic feel than just some “beats.” That, to me, was important to make it sound authentic, like the records myself and other producers would want to sample [if it] came out 30 years ago.

Various Artists, Studio One House of Joy (Studio One, edition of 700)

What Is It?: Packaged in a replica of the wooden speakers that powered Jamaican dancehalls in the Sixties, this collection of 15 seven-inches with replicas of the original labels is a tribute to the production prowess and label savvy of Studio One’s Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. In addition to tracks by the Wailers, the Heptones and Alton Ellis, the box comes with a 45 adapter and a Studio One keychain.

Chris Wilson, Studio One: “It took about 6 months to complete the ideas for the packaging and the elements in the box. The genesis came when I saw the original Sixties speaker box at Studio One in Jamaica, and I started figuring out a way to use the image. Speakers were more important in Jamaica than here since the dances were both a live and a record-playing event. Jamaicans liked it loud with a huge bass.

The box had to be a faithful reproduction, and to also hold seven-inch singles. That made it quite large, larger than I expected. The biggest headache actually was picking the records. There were so many thousands to pick from, and different issues of the same song as well. I wanted to use the original versions of the labels and that became a real hunt through the history of Studio One. My biggest joy was seeing the box for the first time and realizing that all the ideas really did work. I was especially glad to honor Studio One’s Clement Dodd, who I worked with for over 20 years. He was all about music. I think he’d be pleased.

Slick Rick, The Great Adventures of… (Get On Down, edition of 1,400)

What Is It?: For a reissue of Rick the Ruler’s 1988 classic debut, the most iconic “storytelling rap” of all time, “Children’s Story,” gets its lyrics interpreted into a puffy-covered 16-page children’s book. The album comes on CD and a 45 provides the famous morality play with “The Moment I Feared” on the B-side. Herrrre we go…

Gilberto Aguirre Mata, artist: Well, as some people know I’m more into old classic styled comic-book genre, Kirby-ish mostly and some others. So when I was called for making the Slick Rick children’s book I thought it would be a good idea to try on that one too. The main goal was to illustrate the song in a very funny way even though it was a story with a sad ending. I think the hard part to illustrate was the “dope fiend” character, since I had to show a person that is into drugs in a way that kids would understand that [it] is not right what he’s doing. 

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