Top 8 Psychedelic Picks for Record Store Day 2023

By now, I’m guessing many readers of this blog know a bit about Record Store Day. If not, here’s a brief rundown: It’s an annual event inaugurated in 2007 and held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November. Its purpose is to celebrate and support independently owned record stores. Many of us probably have enough vinyl that we don’t know what to do with, but supporting local businesses is always good.

Record Store Day has proven rather popular since 2007, bringing together music fans, artists, and thousands of indie record stores worldwide. Many records are pressed specifically for this day, with a list of releases for each country, and some are only distributed to shops that participate in RSD. The event is headquartered in the U.S., where it started, but official organizers operate in the UK, Mexico, Japan, Europe, and Australia.

This year, Record Store Day will be held on April 22, 2023, the fourth Saturday of the month and what also happens to be Earth Day. Several big-name artists are participating, including Beach House, which I previously wrote about, and my favorite artist, Jason Isbell. But folks, The Third Eye is about psychedelic music. So, forget about what Taylor Swift’s doing on Record Store Day 2023, and let’s focus on psychedelic releases.

Here’s a list of the top 8 psychedelic picks for Record Store Day 2023:

Behind The Dykes 3: Even More Beat, Blues, and Psychedelic Nuggets from The Lowlands 1965-1972 by Various Artists

Behind the Dykes 3 is an excellent record to grab if you’re looking to get esoteric and dive deep into the early beginnings of psychedelic music. The double LP gathers 34 rare and “much-sought-after” tracks from early Dutch psych bands like Golden Earring, The Spectacles and artists from the late Sixties and early Seventies. Many of these tracks haven’t seen reissues, and all have been newly transferred from tape for optimal listening quality.

The sleeve features new artwork with photos and tape box scans inside, and the printed inner sleeves give you those glorious track-by-track liner notes. Behind the Dykes 3 is available for RSD as a limited worldwide edition of 2,500 individually numbered copies on double vinyl. LP 1 is solid Blue, and LP 2 is solid Red if you care about such things. I can’t say I know much about early Dutch psychedelia or the bands included here, like The Goldstar Brothers and The Dukes. But if you’re looking for something left-field, rare, and historic, this could be a good one.

Here’s the link for the official RSD listing.

Psychedelic Percussion by Hal Blaine

Hal Blaine was an American drummer and session musician who may be the most recorded studio drummer in the history of the music industry. Blaine drummed in more than 35,000 sessions and on 6,000 singles, and his drumming is featured on 150 U.S. Top 10 hits, 40 of which went to number one. Blaine played on Sinatra records and for other luminaries like Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, The Byrds, and Simon & Garfunkel. The man’s a legend.

Blaine passed away in 2019 but was inducted among the inaugural “sidemen” inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. This 1967 Hal Blaine record, Psychedelic Percussion, is perhaps his most intriguing recording, and that’s saying a lot. It’s an all-instrumental psychedelic jazz record featuring various percussion instruments and electronics. It’s also the second record ever to feature a Moog modular synthesizer.

Psychedelic Percussion is a Record Store Day exclusive release sourced from the original master tapes and the first time re-issued on vinyl. Quite an interesting one, I’d say.

Here’s a link for the official RSD listing.

A Wizard / A True Star by Todd Rundgren

This 50th-anniversary edition of Rundgren’s acclaimed follow-up to Something/Anything features Todd at his most experimental and has become one of his most influential albums. It’s another RSD exclusive that’s pressed on 140g multi-colored psychedelic effect vinyl.

Surprisingly, I haven’t listened to Todd much over the years, even though he’s from my hometown of Philly and graduated from the very same high school that I did (Upper Darby). He’s been super influential in electronic music and progressive rock, and if there’s one album that cements his psychedelic street cred, it’s this one. The 1973 A Wizard / A True Star has been very influential for generations of bedroom musicians, although it sold poorly when initially released. It features 19 tracks spanning nearly 56 minutes, which made it one of the longest-running LPs ever to be released at that time.

Here’s a link for the official RSD listing.

Vintage by Canned Heat

The American blues rock band Canned Heat formed in Los Angeles in 1965 and was one of the most popular acts of the “hippie” era. They played all the major musical events at the end of the Sixties, like Monterey and Woodstock, performing blues standards, original material, and occasional trips into psychedelic jams.

Vintage is Canned Heat’s sixth studio album, dubbed classic psychedelic blues by some, and featuring renditions of the Muddy Waters/Elmore Hames song “Rollin’ and Tumblin,” with and without Alan Wilson’s harmonica. The rest of the record also features many other classic blues covers, such as “Dimples” by John Lee Hooker and “Spoonful” by Willie Dixon. It’s another good, rare pick if you’re looking to dig into the early psychedelia era.

Here’s the link for the official RSD listing.

Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (1964-1968) [50th Anniversary Box] by Various Artists

You may notice a theme running through this list, and it’s that many of the records are from the first psychedelic era of the late Sixties. Nuggets is the groundbreaking and hugely influential compilation of first-generation psychedelic bands curated by Lenny Kaye, and this release for Record Store Day is the 50th-anniversary edition. The box set includes the original two LPs, the planned but unreleased Vol. 2 of Nuggets, and a single LP of songs considered for the original LP but didn’t make the final cut. It’s a box full of psychedelic goodies.

Like the original Nuggets, the box set was curated by Lenny Kaye with the full involvement of Jac Holzman, the two original Nuggets pioneers. It also includes newly written complete liner notes from Lenny. Only some of the bands featured are recognizable to me, but some names ring a bell, such as The Electric Prunes and the 13th Floor Elevators.

Here’s the link for the official RSD listing.

Live at Levitation by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

We take a trip to the more recent past with this one. This is the seventh vinyl release of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s appearance in the Live at Levitation series from 2013. Many of you may know that the first Austin Psych Fest was held in 2008 and expanded into the three-day Levitation event the following year. 

Since then, it has developed into an international destination for psych-rock fans with killer lineups and headline performances from co-founders The Black Angels. This RSD 2023 edition of BRMC’s Levitation performance comes with a bonus track, and it’s a Record Store Day-first release, meaning that you may be able to find it afterward.

Here’s the link for the official RSD listing.

Incense and Peppermints by Strawberry Alarm Clock

We head back to early psychedelia with this RSD-first release, which marked one of the rare moments when psych-rock hit the top of the charts. The title track of Incense and Peppermints hit number one on the Billboard charts, and the album reached number 11. Two other tracks from the album – The World’s on Fire and Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow – would also be featured in Psych-Out, a 1968 counterculture movie featuring Jack Nicholson.

Strawberry Alarm Clock was formed in 1967 with origins close to Los Angeles, and they are best known for Incense and Peppermints. The psych-rock pioneers are generally categorized as acid rock, sunshine pop, and psychedelic pop. They are less widely recognized than other psych-rock bands today from that era. This is likely because the band had a short lifespan and underwent several lineup changes, releasing four albums between 1967 and 1969. Like other records on this list, this is a good one for early psychedelia fans (if you don’t have it already).

Here’s the link for the official RSD listing.

France Vol. 8 by Various Artists

This is another rare compilation record of vintage psychedelic music that’s good for fans of the obscure and hard-to-find. It’s an RSD exclusive with a limited 1,000-copy quantity, too. According to the bio, it’s an immersion into the heart of Sixties and Seventies French psychedelic pop that will “surprise you with its share of curiosities initiated by psychedelic visionaries and forgotten mavericks.” I don’t pretend to know any of the artists or songs on this record, and I may say that some French natives wouldn’t, either. But I figured I’d add it in case someone wants to dive deep into esoteric psych music from way back when.

Here’s a link for the official RSD listing.

Check out a complete list of Record Store Day 2023 releases here.

Here’s the link for the official Record Store Day website.

And be sure to stop at your favorite indie record store on April 22, 2023, to celebrate RSD, possibly by grabbing one of the psychedelic releases listed above!

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