Record Store Day, one of the most contentious of retail traditions, returns on April 20. We've gone over this manufactured holiday's pros and cons many times before (here's one explication; here's another), so let's just say this: every year, RSD yields about 10%-15% crucial titles out of its hundreds. But which 10%-15%, you ask? Well, that varies, obviously, as musical taste is subjective.

However, as I have spent too many decades crate-digging and record-collecting, I submit that I have a fair idea of what RSD releases you need, even if you don't realize it yet. So, let's get down to the nitty gritty (minus the dirt band). 

Harmonia, Musik von Harmonia (Deluxe Edition) (Grönland 2xLP)

Released in 1974 by Cluster's Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius, and Neu! guitarist Michael Rother, Musik is a krautrock klassik. The bleepy machine funk of "Watussi" foreshadows early Warp Records 15 years before the fact. "Sehr Kosmisch" (translation: "It's Cosmic, Motherfucker") totally lives up to its title; someday it will anchor the soundtrack to the greatest sci-fi film ever. "Dino" almost out-autobahns Kraftwerk. "Ohrwurm" converts the best worst mushroom trip you've ever had into sound. "Veterano" anticipates trance techno by nearly two decades. Musik is a cornucopia of amazing ahead-of-its-time tracks and merits the awe typically reserved for Can, Neu!, and Faust's peak achievements. A bonus LP includes previously unreleased reworks by Matthew Herbert, James Holden, David Pajo, and others. (Some words in this blurb were lifted from this Stranger feature on Moebius.)

Parliament, Osmium Deluxe Edition (Demon 2xLP) 

Parliament's wildly eclectic 1970 debut album is the only one by the group—who morphed into Funkadelic—featuring English composer/producer Ruth Copeland. She contributed the awesome anomaly "The Silent Boatman," a grandiose, bagpipes-enhanced ballad swaddled in Bernie Worrell’s sacred organ and glockenspiel swells. It's worth the price of admission alone. But there's also fantastic rock, funk, gospel, and R&B cuts, and even a wicked country pastiche on Osmium. It might be the funnest George Clinton-associated record ever—which is saying a lot. Includes rare bonus material and B-sides appearing for the first time on vinyl.

Dr. John, Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya: Singles 1968-1974 (Omnivore 2xLP) 

If you want an essential intro to the work of god-tier New Orleans funk-soul brother Dr. John, this comp should do you a solid. It covers the keyboardist/singer's peak period in 28 tracks, five of which derive from his classic 1968 debut, Gris-Gris, which I once described as "a hellishly heavenly hoodoo that makes you feel as if your brain's swimming in a bouillabaisse of seven-horned lamb heads and mescaline." This collection comes at the right place, but not the wrong time.

Captain Beefheart, The Spotlight Kid (Deluxe Edition) (Rhino 2xLP)

This very necessary reissue of The Spotlight Kid bears nine bonus tracks to augment what is already an avant-blues all-timer. Don Van Vliet and the Magic Band were operating at a libidinous zenith here, and even Howlin' Wolf had to shout, "GOT DAMN!" This deluxe edition includes the previously unreleased nearly nine-minute version of "I'm Gonna Booglarize You Baby," one of the greatest songs ever with a neologism in its title.

Manu Dibango, Manu 76 (Soul Makossa) 

Everyone's favorite Cameroonian saxophonist/vibraphonist kicks out his trademark joyous highlife-funk, soukous (uptempo Congolese dance music), and Afro boogie, all of which dissolves your worries and gets your limbs gesticulating within seconds. Manu 76 is one of Dibango's hottest platters, which is saying a lot. 

Queen Latifah, Nature of a Sistah (Tommy Boy Music)

Although not as stunning as her 1989 debut LP, All Hail the Queen, 1991's Nature of a Sistah further solidified Latifah's importance as one of the first strong female leads in a male-dominated genre. Her brash, nimble verses and outright sung lyrics bounced over party-centric funk-, R&B-, and reggae-tinged cuts that reinforced her women-empowering thrust. Like many '90s releases, Sistah has been scarce on vinyl, so this reissue is very welcome. 

The Slits, In the Beginning (Jungle 2xLP)

An anthology of this UK group's live recordings from 1977-1981, In the Beginning captures these wild women both thrashing in a punk vein and stretching out in a dubwise manner. This kind of lo-fi rawness didn't make it onto their classic reggae-funk-rock debut, Cut, but for fans and the curious, it's an ear-opening peek into their feral, freewheeling stage demeanor. 

Rain Parade, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip (Label 51)

Along with the Dream Syndicate's The Days of Wine and Roses, Emergency Third Rail Power Trip represents the pinnacle of what nobody in that short-lived '80s movement wanted to call "the Paisley Underground" (the tight-knit SoCal scene that reverently revived psych-rock). Led by brothers David and Steven Roback and Matt Piucci, Rain Parade transmogrified the Beatles and the Byrds' most psychedelic moments into melodious marvels of concise songcraft, with a hint of Pink Floydian melancholy. One of the greatest albums of the Reagan era.

Schoolly D, Saturday Night: The Album (Get on Down)

Out of print on vinyl since 1987, Saturday Night is a canonical gangsta-rap LP. Loaded with funky-as-hell samples, rugged TR-909 programming, and Schoolly D's bravado-laden verbals and alpha-male charisma, the album stands as one of the toughest early specimens of hip-hop's golden age. It's krack. This reissue comes on "lemon pepper" vinyl, regrettably.

Scenic, The Acid Gospel Experience (Independent Project 2xLP)

After 22 years, The Acid Gospel Experience finally gets a vinyl issue—hallelujah! Previously, it had only been released on CD. Featuring members of the fantastic Savage Republic and Shiva Burlesque, Scenic thrived briefly in Bishop, California, before fading into unjust obscurity. On this aptly titled record, ambient space rock meets desert-fried psychedelia, and everyone who hears it leaves enlightened by the end. 

More worthy titles: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Live in France: The 1966 Concert in Limoges (Deep Digs); Kate Bush, Eat the Music (Fish People 10"); Boogie Down Productions, Edutainment (Get on Down 2xLP); Bernie Worrell, Wave From the WOOniverse (ORG/Loantaka); Jeff Buckley & Gary Lucas, Songs to No One (Instinct 2xLP); Fun Boy Three, Extended (Chrysalis 2xLP); Little Richard, Right Now (Omnivore); Lee "Scratch" Perry, Skanking With the Upsetters (Trojan); Nightmares on Wax, Carboot Soul (25th Anniversary Edition) (Warp 2xLP + 7"); Nas, Illmatic Remixes & Rarities (Legacy); Dave Pike, The Doors of Perception (Nature Sounds); Sonic Youth, Hits Are for Squares (Geffen 2xLP); Ultramagnetic MCs, The Ultra's Live at Brixton (Music on Vinyl); Various Artists, Pale Shades of Grey: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1969-1976 (Now-Again); George Harrison, Electronic Sound (Zoetrope Picture Disc) (Dark Horse).

Local interest: Black Breath, Box Set (Southern Lord); Death Cab for Cutie, Live at the Showbox (Barsuk 2xLP); Fleet Foxes, Live on Boston Harbor (Anti/Epitaph 3xLP); Pearl Jam, Dark Matter (Republic); Mudhoney, Suck You Dry: The Reprise Years (Reprise 5xLP); Screaming Trees, Strange Things Happening - The Ellensburg Demos 1986-88 (Screaming Trees LLC/Vinyl Voice Edition); Sleater-Kinney, This Time/Here Today (Loma Vista 7"); TAD, Infrared Riding Hood (Real Gone Music).

Record Store Day is Saturday, April 20. See a round-up of some of The Stranger's favorite record stores—and a list of events and promotions—in our calendar here.

And here's the list of participating Western Washington record stores.