Review Explosion, Short Cuts Edition, Vol. 14, RSD 2024 Roundup, Part 1: New, Top-Shelf Live LPs From Talking Heads and Fleet Foxes

Record Store Day 2024 was an especially fun time this year, the first installment of which fell on last Saturday, April 20, 2024. Me, I was in San Francisco, which was abuzz with unofficial celebrations, and much music-is-love energy was also in the air — literally, in certain parts of town!

I was situated mere footsteps from the entrance to Golden Gate Park, happily ensconced with several-hundred vinyl-loving music-fan friends waiting in line for Amoeba Music to open its doors on Haight Street at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, My record-collecting buddy Frank and I snared our place in the queue at around 6:45 a.m., and at least 100 people were already in front of us — some of them having camped out the night before. By the time we left the store at 10:30 a.m., one of Amoeba’s staffers told me that at least 350 people had already come through their doors since opening, and at least 50 were still waiting to get in.

Clearly, vinyl enthusiasm is still alive and well, even here in San Francisco where a number of large tech firms have endured quite a bit of downsizing in recent months. I was concerned that the perceived “exodus” from our fair city by the Bay would have impacted RSD 2024 attendance, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Good news!

I do also have to offer some kudos to , as they were especially well-organized this year, bringing out checklists and pens for those of us in line so they could pull the titles we wanted to buy (if they had them in stock, that is). Luckily, I was able to get everything I wanted, including live albums by Talking Heads and Fleet Foxes — both of which are the subjects of today’s first installment of my RSD 2024 LP reviews. (Part 2 will post on AP early next week.)



2LP (Sire/Rhino/Warner Music)
Limited edition of 13,300 copies worldwide, with 8,000 of them U.S. domestic (RSD Exclusive)
SOUND: 8.5

Back in the relatively early days of Talking Heads’ emergence on the 1970s music scene, there was a fairly quick embrace of the group by many of my Deadhead-oriented friends (i.e., fans of the Grateful Dead and other improv-leaning groups of the times such as Little Feat, The Allman Brothers Band, et al). Like the community surrounding Grateful Dead fandom, in short order, Talking Heads concert recordings were circulating on frequently shared cassettes and inevitable bootleg LPs often culled from radio broadcasts.

When March 1982’s 2LP collection The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads was issued on Sire, Heads fans (Head Heads?) and many a Deadhead alike rejoiced, as it included part of an outstanding early performance that was broadcast only in the Boston area in 1977. This wonderful, live-in-the-studio session was culled from a WCOZ FM transmission, capturing the nascent group just before they blew up into international sensations. It is a terrific snapshot of what Talking Heads were about at that point in time.

I was thus super-pleased to learn that the Talking Heads’ complete WCOZ concert was being issued for RSD this year as Live at WCOZ 77. Recorded at Northern Studios in Maynard, Massachusetts, on November 17, 1977 — located some 20-odd miles west of Boston — the live audience was witness to Talking Heads at an early peak. The band had only recently expanded to a quartet after adding Jerry Harrison — formerly of Jonathan Richman’s legendary Boston-area outfit, The Modern Lovers — on guitar and keyboards, and the group grew remarkably tight and powerful in very short order.

That fresh-hewn energy is palpable on Live at WCOZ 77, and overall, I’m very pleased with this new 2LP 45rpm package and the very live-feeling recording, both in the sense of how the band’s overall sound was captured but also how the bandmembers were performing together.


From Rhino’s site, we learn more about the underlying DNA for this collection: “Limited to 13,300 copies worldwide, Live at WCOZ 77 will be released as a double album exclusively at select independent music retailers on April 20 for $34.98. The LPs were cut at 45rpm to optimize audio fidelity and sourced from the original two-track tapes, which were recorded and mixed by Ed Stasium.”

A few notes: Of those 13,300 copies, 8,000 of them were earmarked for the U.S. market. And while we’re not 100 percent sure exactly what “sourced” implies here in terms of the age-old analog vs. digital sourcing question, the album sure sounds mighty fine, either way. Mastering was handled by Ted Jensen of Sterling Sound.

Live at WCOZ 77 sounds very much like the excerpts from the concert we’ve heard on the aforementioned The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads, only better. And that is saying something, as that original 1982 2LP Sire set sounded really pretty fine!

One of the best ways you can hear the difference is to listen for Chris Franz’s cymbal and tom-tom drum hits. The cymbals sparkle and sizzle with a natural decay that was only hinted on at on the earlier live compilation. His tom-toms sound richer and more resonant. David Byrne’s yelping vocals are at times unnerving — but only because he sounds so present in the room!


And, of course, the band’s performance on Live at WCOZ 77 is just outstanding. We get to hear quite a number of songs that were not yet officially released and some that never made it onto formal studio LPs, such as the show opener (Side A, Track 1) “Love Goes to Building on Fire” (formally listed here on the album as “Love —> Building on Fire,” as it was on the original 45 single). Also, we get a cover tune that became one of Talking Heads’ signatures in the years to come — Al Green’s classic “Take Me to the River” (Side A, Track 4). That song would not be released formally until a year later on the Heads’ second album on Sire, June 1978’s More Songs About Buildings and Food.

Here on Live at WCOZ 77, we can hear the embryonic jamming roots of where the Heads would go in just a couple years on the outro to songs like “Psycho Killer” (Side D, Track 3) and the manic version of “Clean Break (Let’s Work)” (Side B, Track 3).

The pressing quality on my copy of Live at WCOZ 77 is very solid and quiet. The standard-weight vinyl is well-centered and quiet. Each disc comes housed in an audiophile-grade plastic-lined black inner sleeve. The packaging is simple but effective, similar in construct to the 1982 The Name of live album, and it also features a live shot of the band from the period. I really have no complaints on this one at all.

All that said, do take note that Talking Heads’ Live at WCOZ 77 has, not surprisingly, become a highly sought-after RSD 2024 commodity, to say the least. As of this posting, there are seven copies available on Discogs, with a starting domestic SRP of $120 all-in (shipping included). Highly recommended, if you can afford it.



2LP (Sire/Rhino/Warner Music)

Side A
1. Love —> Building On Fire *
2. Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town *
3. Don’t Worry About The Government
4. Take Me To The River *

Side B
1. The Book I Read
2. New Feeling
3. A Clean Break (Let’s Work)

Side C
1. The Big Country *
2. The Good Thing *
3. Stay Hungry *

Side D
1. Thank You For Sending Me An Angel *
2. Who Is It?
3. Psycho Killer
4. Pulled Up

*previously unreleased



3LP (Anti-)
Limited edition of 4,000 copies (RSD Exclusive)

I was especially excited when I learned that Fleet Foxes — one of my favorite bands to emerge in the last 20 years — was going to release a live album from one of their recent tours for RSD 2024.

Fleet Foxes are a group that should appeal to most anyone who likes music icons like Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Band, and The Beach Boys. The group is a very forward-leaning, tight-yet-loose progressive folk-rock powerhouse, both in the studio and onstage. Their June 2017 2LP release on Nonesuch, Crack-Up, was one of my all-time favorites that year, with its brilliant cross-pollination of those aforementioned influences along with touchstones into Philip Glass and Steve Reich territory.

But, at the end of the day, this group is about melody and harmony — and that is what you will get when listening to Live on Boston Harbor. This concert recording originated in 2022 as a live-streamed, ticketed event (even for the streams) that was also filmed for posterity. I’d like to think this RSD 2024 release is a bit of the band giving something back to the fans for their support. The 3LP — count ’em, three! — set was also one of the best values available this RSD, considering the starting SRP was kept under $40!


Across this trio of black-vinyl discs — each of which comes in a unique picture inner sleeve featuring live photos of the band performing — we get to hear the entire two-hour concert, start to finish. A very simple yet elegant package, the single-pocket white oute sleeve is wrapped in a neon-orange OBI strip. (Collector’s note: Be careful not to cut the strip when you’re opening up the album so that you can preserve the integrity of the OBI, which will slide off easily once you remove the shrink wrap.) Each disc features a custom label with a nifty, somewhat retro-looking mid-century design aesthetic.

Musically, I am thrilled with Live on Boston Harbor. It is a well-recorded live concert document that finds the band in top form, delivering the intimacy of solo acoustic guitar and vocal performances as well as the rich, Brian Wilson-meets-Philip-Glass intricacy that make albums like Crack-Up so mesmerizing.

I am mostly happy with the vinyl quality — although there were some anomalies on my pressing, which forced me to lower my Sound rating a notch. There was some surface noise on one side of the release, and another side was just a wee bit too off-center for my liking, as some of the music on that disc was unfortunately impacted negatively by the wavering of my tonearm. Unfortunately, Amoeba Music had already sold out completely of their stock of this album, so I can’t return my copy for a replacement. I’ll have to live with it until I find a better one somewhere along the line. Regardless, I’m still glad to have it.


Because of those problems with my copy of Live on Boston Harbor, I had to ding the sound rating on this release down a notch to an 8. But, generally, for a modern-day, likely digital recording, it sounds really very nice. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of it if you can you get your hands on one — the seven copies currently available on Discogs start at an SRP of $105, shipping included — and I do hope that yours doesn’t have the same sort of pressing anomalies like mine does. Either way, let us know in the Comments section below what your experiences are with either/both of these fine RSD 2024 releases!

Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in marketing communications for decades. He has reviewed music for, among others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.



3LP (Anti-)

Side 1
1. Wading In Waist-High Water
2. Sunblind
3. Can I Believe You
4. Ragged Wood
5. Your Protector

Side 2
6. He Doesn’t Know Why
7. Featherweight
8. Third Of May / Õdaigahara
9. White Winter Hymnal
10. Phoenix

Side 3
11. Mearcstapa
12. Mykonos
13. I’m Not My Season
14. Blue Spotted Tail
15. If You Need To, Keep Time On Me

Side 4
16. The Kiss
17. A Long Way Past the Past
18. Drops In The River
19. Blue Ridge Mountains
20. Grown Ocean

Side 5
21. Montezuma
22. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
23. In The Morning
24. The Shrine / An Argument

Side 6
25. For A Week Or Two
26. Going-To-The-Sun-Road
27. Helplessness Blues


Tom L's picture

the Talking Heads release made more widely available. The resale prices are crazy. Not so wild about Fleet Foxes...

rl1856's picture

The Boston Harbor concert is available to stream on Youtube:

I love the FF and I am looking forward to their next release; whenever that may be.

parrotclove's picture

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