Fleetwood Mac — The Alternate Rumours

The Alternate Rumours, with an appropriately alternate front cover

Got this Saturday, yo! It was Record Store Day, version whatever, 2020. While I enjoy and appreciate the purpose of Record Store Day, even in the best of years I have not been willing to wait in line to get things that I want. I’m not a lines guy. I will cut off my nose to spite my face. I will definitely wander around a city looking for a restaurant without a line rather than wait in one. It’s just how I’m wired. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but wait in line to buy something? Nah.

I actually did do it once that I can remember. Didn’t even wait in line, exactly, just got up super damn early. It was 1985, and i wanted a CD player. CD players were pretty new to the mass market, and expensive as hell. The one I wanted, which was very nice but by no means the highest end, ran for over $400. That was easily over a week’s wages then. (Not that the lower end ones were that much cheaper.) I really had no business spending money on a CD player, but I also really really wanted one. And it so happened that autumn that one of the local stereo stores was having a sale, with some actually significant reductions, but the catch was that the reductions got less as the day wore on. I believe they opened at 5 in the morning, and if you got there at 5, you got x% off. So we were gonna be there at 5 in the morning.

The back cover – simple black and credits. No additional material with this one, and no penguins on the inside liner

Now my experience with local stereo stores was the same as everyone else’s — their promos were nearly all bait and switch. If the turntable was at a great price, that’s because they had unbundled the cartridge and were gonna sell that to you separately, as a significantly increased price. If you had your heart set on a particular piece of equipment that you had researched for months, the salesman would explain how it was junk and steer you to the piece he’d make the most commission on. But the discount this time was worth it, because I knew they had the model I wanted. So one Saturday morning, we got up and went out to some random stereo store, waited in a fairly short little line, got the CD player I wanted (Denon DCD-1000, which is still getting good reviews, although mine broke inside of a few years, after many many thousands of hours of play), paid my $350, and got the heck out of there. It turns out that at 5 AM, stereo salesmen were not any more awake than we were, and lacked the initiative to argue with us about what we really wanted to buy. Maybe it helped that we weren’t trying to get out with their cheapest piece of merchandise, I don’t know, but it went quick and out we went. Then, it being 5:25 in the morning, there was only one option available for breakfast out — the diner at the Regional Market, which existed primarily to feed the farmers who gathered there every Thursday and Saturday. It was fine and fun, we lingered long enough for the market to open, gathered our weekly vegetables (I know there were brussels sprouts on the stalk; why would I remember that of all things?). Then we went home, and of course I set my player up immediately because, yes, I had bought CDs before I had a CD player. But the same week, anyway.

So, that was an incentive to wait in line to buy something. It was a singular experience, one we always talk about because it was not like us. So, I love the idea of special new releases for Record Store Day, of getting out some underappreciated music, reviving things that had otherwise been forgotten, or just getting some crisp new vinyl of stuff that was originally on that super-shitty ’80s plastic. But . . . I’m not willing to wait in line for it. Any RSD releases I’ve gotten have been because they were still there later that day or after that. I saw the releases for this drop day (they’re doing multiple days this year to spread things out and help the stores because of COVID-19 impacts), and the only thing I wanted was this, the Alternate Rumours. I didn’t even need to have it — I have these tracks already, on an extended CD version. These days I’m playing vinyl about 70% of the time, so I wanted these on vinyl, but I didn’t need them on vinyl. I didn’t plan to make any effort to get it, and given that it was a limited edition of 16,000 copies, I thought my chances of finding it afterward were slim. Fine.

Alternate Rumours label
Alternate Rumours label

Then: my chief enabler, Shawn, who in the before times ran a pop-up record shop where I would spend my Saturday mornings talking about Tusk and buying French pop records, sent out a message last night that he was probably gonna line up at Shady Dog in Berwyn this morning, and did I still want this record. So, yes, if he could get it. Well, of course he did. I was sitting at my dining room table, could even see a car I didn’t recognize stopped in the street in front of the house, and then I got a text to check my front porch where, once again, there was a brand new record sitting on one of the porch chairs. So, again, thanks, Shawn!

I did pop this open and listen to it this afternoon, and it’s great. Again, already had the tracks, along with others. Like the Alternate Fleetwood Mac, I’d have been just as happy if most of these had been the tracks that made the final cut. I didn’t feel that way about the Tusk alternates — there I thought the band had made the right choices for the final. Here, there were more tossups, alternative approaches that might have worked just as well. Highly enjoyable.

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