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McCartney, Bowie, Phish drop rare vinyl for Record Store Day

A copy of David Bowie's
A copy of David Bowie'sRobert F. Bukaty / AP

Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Phish, Lana Del Rey and Foster the People are just a small sample of artists preparing to drop rare vinyl come Record Store Day on Saturday. The annual event was conceived five years ago by a group of record store employees and pop music fans to put a spotlight on the 700 or so independent record store dealers in the U.S. It’s since grown into a major cultural happening, with hundreds of recording artists releasing collectible CDs and very limited edition vinyl (the latter of which has seen a major sales resurgence recently).

“It’s definitely put a spotlight on the music industry as a whole -- not just record stores but the entire music industry,” said Gary Gebler, owner of the Baltimore-based Trax on Wax. “It’s like Christmas in April for record stores.

“The only trouble,” Gebler said, “is that the items the acts put out are so rare that not all the fans are able to buy them. Like with the new Phish album (a three-record set called “Junta Deluxe”), there’s only around 5,000 being pressed, but way more people will want copies.”

In other words, if you want to get your hands on the 45s of McCartney’s “Another Day,” Bowie’s “Starman,” or Del Rey’s “Born to Die” (featuring a remix by Damon Albarn), be prepared to hit your local record store bright and early Saturday. To up the excitement ante, individual stores usually don’t know what items they’ll be getting until the day itself. Also, some stores will be having in-store performances, like Seattle’s Easy Street Records, where country artist Dierks Bentley will take the stage.

The Princeton Record Exchange, one of the country’s leading independent music retailers, is expecting such a large crowd this year that it sent out a press release with some instructions for customers: two items per person and no calling ahead to ask for records to be held. There’s a good reason for that. It turns out that at last year’s Record Store Day, the Exchange had a couple of hundred people waiting in line even before it opened.

With all the attention on record stores now, you wonder if there might be a sequel to “High Fidelity” sometime in the future.

A complete list of items for sale on Record Store Day can be found on the Record Store Day’s website.