Amy Winehouse and Ariana Grande among 2021 Record Store Day exclusives

By Mark Savage
BBC music reporter

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image captionVinyl sales approached five million in the UK last year

Amy Winehouse, Ariana Grande, Madness and Bjork are among the artists whose rare and unheard music will be released for Record Store Day 2021.

More than 500 exclusive vinyl records will be issued for the event, which is taking place over two days (12 June and 17 July) due to the pandemic.

They also include a little-known Prince acoustic album, new music from Wolf Alice and two live discs by The Police.

It comes after vinyl sales hit a three-decade high of 4.8 million in 2020.

If the pattern continues, record labels will make more money from vinyl than CDs this year, for the first time since 1987, when Def Leppard, T'Pau and Terence Trent D'Arby topped the charts.

Record Store Day, which was established in 2007, has become one of the biggest events in the music calendar, with many independent record shops achieving their highest sales of the year.

Previous events concentrated on gatherings and concerts, with long queues snaking outside shops as fans tried to snap up limited-edition releases.

Last year, however, it was split into three "drops" to enable social distancing while continuing to support the sector. This year's event will take a similar approach.

The full, list of releases has just been published - but here are 10 highlights.

Elton John - Regimental Sgt Zippo (12 June)

image copyrightUMC

Recorded at Dick James Studios in Central London between late 1967 and spring 1968, this was slated to be Elton John's debut album before he had second thoughts and scrapped the lot. Six of the songs, including the psychedelic title track, were released on the box set Jewels last year, but this is the first time the entire album has been made available.

Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend (12 June)

Wolf Alice's hotly-anticipated third album is released on 11 June, a day before the first Record Store Day "drop". This exclusive vinyl version comes in a gatefold sleeve with a bonus 7-inch single featuring the non-album track Time Is Not A Straight Line.

Singer Ellie Rowsell said the band were proud to support local record stores. "Given the bleak year they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic any support you could show them would be fantastic," she said. "The musical world would not be the same without them."

Madness - I Do Like To Be B-Side The A-Side Vol 2 (12 June)

image copyrightBMG

A compilation of the Nutty Boys' B-sides from 1982-1984. The tracklist is unavailable at the time of writing, but should include the much-loved Walking With Mr Wheeze and the delightfully silly self-parody Riding On My Bike.

Ariana Grande - k bye for now (12 June)

Ariana's first live album features 32 tracks, recorded over three shows on her 2019 Sweetener world tour. The star described the record as "a little something" to thank fans and initially planned it as a digital-only release. However, it is making its debut on vinyl for Record Store Day.

Prince - The Truth (12 June)

image copyrightCMG

A hidden gem in Prince's discography, The Truth is an acoustic album that was given away with copies of Crystal Ball - a collection of outtakes and archive tracks - in 1998. Intimate and confessional, it's one of his most personal albums - not least on the song Comeback, where Prince remembers his son Amir, who died shortly after being born. It's being released on vinyl for the first time, with new artwork by the star's long-time collaborator Steve Parke.

Bees Gees - Three Kisses Of Love (17 July)

Described as "an exciting collection of the Bee Gees' early pop platters", this collects the band's early recordings on Australia's Festival label, including their first ever hit single, Spicks and Specks. Recorded when Barry, Robin and Maurice were still teenagers, they're primitive songs that only hint at what the band would become - but provide a fascinating insight into their early career.

Róisín Murphy - Crooked Machine (12 June)

image copyrightSkint Records

Pop rebel Róisín Murphy is issuing a remixed version of her acclaimed 2019 album Róisín Machine, which she said "rings deeper into the night, carrying a familiar feeling of the songs you've heard before, with darker twists and turns".

The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin Companion (12 June)

A famous promo featuring outtakes, alternate mixes and radio sessions from The Flaming Lips' commercial breakthrough. Widely circulated among the fan community, it will receive an official release on silver vinyl.

Amy Winehouse - Remixes (12 June)

image copyrightUMG

Originally released as part of an Amy Winehouse box set, this compilation is getting a standalone release on coloured vinyl. It includes a Jay-Z remix of Rehab, a film noir take on Back To Black by the Rumble Strips, and a reworking of You Know I'm No Good featuring Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah.

St Vincent - Piggy (17 July)

In which Annie "St Vincent" Clark covers the Nine Inch Nails classic with assistance from Dave Grohl on drums. Originally recorded to celebrate Nine Inch Nails' induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, St Vincent said the song's "dark, industrial reggae" proved harder to replicate than she'd imagined. "They made a complicated thing seem easy and made big, bold sonic choices."

And 10 more you might want to check out

  • Björk x The Hamrahlíð Choir - Cosmogony
  • Aretha Franklin - Oh Me, Oh My: Aretha Live In Philly 1972 (orange and yellow vinyl)
  • The Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks (coloured vinyl)
  • Ed Sheeran - The A-Team (10th anniversary clear vinyl)
  • Belle & Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap (green vinyl)
  • The Clash - If Music Could Talk (1981 promo album featuring interviews and music from Sandanista)
  • Disclosure - Energy (12" picture disc)
  • Fun Lovin' Criminals - Scooby Snacks (25th anniversary orange vinyl)
  • Lady Gaga - Chromatica (Deluxe yellow vinyl, with 28-page book)
  • The Police - Live Vols 1 & 2 (1995 live album released on vinyl for the first time)

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