Record Store Day 2015: 10 of the oddest records to chase at the shops

Times pop music critic Randall Roberts scours this year's Record Store Day offerings in search of oddities

Record Store Day, the annual celebration of vinyl, occurs throughout the world on Saturday. For fanatics, it's a sunrise for which they've been strategizing. For investors, it's a day to turn a few hundred dollars into a few thousand on EBay as lazy or agoraphobic collectors lie in wait.

Those who have been following the event, created by independent record retailers, know that each year the bounty grows, and that each year a few inarguably weird records come out. Amid the limited edition runs from prominent artists including Metallica, Florence + the Machine and Foo Fighters are surprising pressings that confound the imagination. Who knew, for example, that there was demand for a 7-inch single of composer Bernard Herrmann's classic theme to "Psycho"?

Below, 10 of the more surprising records coming out Saturday.  

1. Lord Sitar, "Lord Sitar" (Rhino). Just what you need: Indian exotica sitar versions of 1960s rock classics including the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus," "Blue Jay Way" and "Eleanor Rigby," the Who's "I Can See for Miles" and "Daydream Believer," made famous by the Monkees. The lord of this record's title was in fact the expert guitarist Big Jim Sullivan -- despite rumors at the time of its original 1968 release that the player was in fact George Harrison -- and "Lord Sitar" nearly four decades later has become a collectible oddity. Edition of 2,000.

2. Bernard Herrmann, "Psycho" 7-inch (Music on Vinyl). Looking for a record tailor-made for seducing your next Tinder catch? Drop the needle on the screeching 45 of Herrmann's classic "The Murder," best known as the shower-scene music from Alfred Hitchcock's thriller "Psycho." It's sure to loosen the mood. Edition of 2,000.

3. Lydia Loveless and Cory Branan, "I Would Die 4 u" b/w "Under the Cherry Moon" (Bloodshot). The estimable Chicago country label Bloodshot divides and conquers Prince. Loveless' cover of "I Would Die 4 U" isn't so much weird, but it's totally surprising, and inspired. Whether Nashville singer Branan goes strange with the perennial Prince oddity "Under the Cherry Moon" won't be known until Saturday, but given the song, it's a record to chase. Edition of 1,000.

4. Captain Beefheart, "Raw, Rough and Amazing" (Ozit Dandelion). The desert-dwelling avant-rock mystic Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, was long an obsession of BBC Radio DJ John Peel, who collected Beefheart rarities. "Raw, Rough and Amazing" gathers on two LPs a 1972 live concert by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. Recorded at De Montfort Hall in Leicester, the record documents a band at peak power. Edition of 2,000.

5. Junior Brown, "Better Call Saul" (Spacelab9). Who's that crawling, pokey twangy guitarist introducing "Better Call Saul," the new AMC offshoot of "Breaking Bad"? That's Junior Brown, the country singer and guitarist who penned the song (along with composer Dave Porter, series creator Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould) specifically for the show. Edition of 1,000.

6. Rockabye Baby, "Lullaby Renditions of the Grateful Dead" (Rockabye Baby Music). Start 'em young with lullaby versions of Grateful Dead jams including "Casey Jones" (about riding a train high on cocaine), "Friend of the Devil" (about Satanism) and the trippy "leaf of all colors [that] plays a golden fiddle" in "China Cat Sunflower." The record arrives on double vinyl for maximum fidelity. Edition of 2,000.

7. Mark Mothersbaugh, "The Lego Movie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (Spacelab). The Devo co-founder knows his way around a film score; he's responsible for some of the best of the last two decades. None is more exuberant than his work on "The Lego Movie," which arrives on double vinyl picture disc (!). Comes with an exclusive "Lego Record Store Poster." Edition of 2,000.

8. Steven Hawking, "Galaxy Song." The British comedy troupe Monty Python went deep in its astronomically wild "Galaxy Song." With lyrics that expound on the wonder of our smallness, the record's a science geek classic: "Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars / It's a hundred thousand light years side to side / It bulges in the middle/ sixteen thousand light years thick/But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide." Awesome, yes, made more so when "sung" by astrophysicist Steven Hawking. Edition of 1,000. (Note: This is a British release, so EBay may be your only chance for a physical copy. However, listen here.)

9. Elvis Presley, "My Happiness" b/w "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" (Third Man). Jack White recently purchased Elvis Presley's first ever recording, an acetate that he made for his mother before releasing his first records for Sun. It's one of the world's rarest records -- White reportedly paid $300,000 -- and now he's sharing it. White's Third Man Records imprint has repressed the original 78 rpm record -- a replica of White's lone copy. Edition of 500.

10. "Forty Martyrs: Armenian Chanting from Aleppo," (Lost Origin). Released to commemorate  the 100-year anniversary of the Armenian genocide, "40 Martyrs ..." captures sacred chants, some thousands of years old, recorded by sound archivist Jason Hamacher. Recorded in the sanctuary of the Forty Martyrs Church in Aleppo, Syria, before the start of a devastating civil war that continues, the record features ancient sounds from within one of the world's oldest cities. Edition of 650. 

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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