Monday, April 10, 2006


Sneezin' jeezus. It's been a hell of a month. I drove cross country, went to a wedding in Austin, TX, found a new place to live, and start moving next week. And, yes, the blog hasn't been updated in quite some time. Dammit, it looks like I might have to resort to once or twice a month instead of weekly. We shall see. This project keeps giving me ideas and bringing a lot of things back into the forefront for me. Since I'll be moving soon, all the records will pass through my hands and that alone will keep me brewing with memories for a while. We'll see what happens then.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

El disco es cultura

Here's a long one, as I'll be on the road for a week.

The spooky thing about sentimentalizing records (besides the fact that there's a hell of a lot of people who care this much) is that you never know how much you can possibly recall. I'm wondering sometimes if I can remember something about this record or write anything about that record. But it always seems to come forward. I'm thinking that when something like music is what you frame your life around, it's always going to be easy to release all that reminiscence with a simple playback. Stupid and romantic, dusty and porous, crates contain more than just garage pockets for must and relentness dankness.

I just got back from Ithaca, NY, where I accompanied a friend of mine who was there on business. I used to live in Albany (where, incidentally, this record shit really got serious for me) and one of my best mates from childhood (Tim) was living a few hours to the west of me. Initially he was at school in Clinton, NY then he transferred to Cornell. I enjoyed taking trips out there often and made a bunch of friends hanging out with Tim in Ithaca, even though I had a chip on my shoulder several times when first visiting an Ivy League school. No matter, I got over it eventually and had some amazing times hanging out in that town. Ithaca's definitely one of the more magical spots in upstate New York.

I got to know Ithaca pretty well, but most of my time spent there was spent in Collegetown. The region of Collegetown is a Cornell-supported development "town" just outside the campus that stretched down the hill Cornell's located on and skirts the downtown area of Ithaca proper. I used to call ahead and take the 3 hour ride just to hang out for a night. We'd take a local route through Homer, Cortland, Dryden and enter around the back of Cornell where the road would just drop you in the middle of this crazy congested area of Collegetown. It was like a downstate New York suburb just placed in the middle of Central New York. The stores, bars, clubs, and apartments that any good school can foster are still in effect in Collegetown today.

Tim would always tell me that this joint called Rebop was useless. They were a clearly struggling music store in Collegetown right near the edge of campus. I think they were probably scraping by with the used-cd market, and almost certainly it was too expensive. But they had records. Even those Tim was warning me against, saying it was loads of crap. But loads of crap is always a good sign for something solid hidden. Ok, well... generally. In this case Tim was wrong, or at least, he didn't know what I was looking for or what I was willing to test. Punk-wise I got a copy of the NY hardcore/thrash crossover band's Leeway's "Born to Expire", which I think was the second time I'd got that record and later sold it off. It was just too metal for me at the time. Stupid, since this was also the time when it was being reissued for the first time on CD. Goes for money at this point, and after I finally managed to be able to approach metal I'd realized how good it is. In addition, I found a sealed copy of Stars and Stripes' "Shaved for Battle" sealed. As strangely erotic as that title sounds, it's acually an extremely rare side-project from the Boston hardcore band Slapshot. Almost laughable Oi/hardcore in a pro-skinhead vein, this has been reissued and this copy also got sold. But that one at least made it to Ebay. That was a nice find, especially at the time when I was still really into the Oi thing. But the one that's still relevant (read: not sold) is the copy of Grandmixer DST's "Home of Hip Hop" (Celluloid 1985). It was stashed in the stacks of records leaned up against the wall. I think this was one of my first 12"s from the classic New York/France label that sat at the crossroads of rap, electro, new age electronic and pretty much anything else that Bill Laswell had his mitts in. At the time, I think I knew the label mostly for their ska releases by bands like the Toasters. Incidentally, they were often bagged-on by bands like the Toasters for screwing over bands, not paying royalties and all that good old label stuff. It was there promo-style with a white cardboard sleeve (I got the sleeved version later and it's shown here), just in the midst of a lot of lesser stuff. A great tune that's all about celbrating the Bronx (yess!) from an important label, this is DST's last track on Celluloid, and came after the stuff that made him famous- notably the Herbie Hancock "Rockit" and "Future Shock" period. DST is a great and often underrated (under-mentioned?) DJ who I believe changed his name to DXT in the past couple of years. I've read that his name came from the fact that he used to jack clothing from stores on Delancey Street in Manhattan. Solid.

NYC Peech Boys "Life Is Something Special" (Island). Once while in Albany I'd heard from Pete that a local hack used CD store (Edie's CDs) had advertised in a local paper they they got a massive amount of records in, apparently listing them as something like "huge dance and electronic lot" or something. So Pete and Eddie and I head over there and it's actually in a MALL. Forget the cute little used CD stores that have been around throughout the 90s, this place was big and not really that great. Years later I went to a different location, as they had several when they were around, in Saratoga and the bum at the counter was amazed that I'd give him 2 bucks for one of the 20 records in the store. It was Thin Lizzy's "Johnny The Fox" and the guy was laughing slimily that he'd swindled me or something, buying an LP in a CD store-- one that became one of my favorite bands. Anyways, this location was in a mall, indoors at a corner location. It was nothing like what I'm used to, and if it was a proper record store it'd feel like the 1970's or something. So we tell them, at this strangely large store, that we've come for the records. They usher us into the back, into what's best described as a storage space that's half closet and half pre-fab cubicle. And yeah, it's full of records. So we get to work going through these stacks and there's some good stuff in there, some rap and electro records and lots of house and dance. So we're in the back room and the staff (hacks of course) leave us alone to do our thing. Then suddenly the lights go out. We're in the back of a store in a mall in the dark. We've got records, sure, but, well.. how do you get out? I believe the lights came back on in a bit. We went out to the front and asked someone if everything was ok. They told us it was fine, it just has been happening a lot since there was some construction in the mall. So we shrug it off and go back to work in the back, just soberly dealing with the fact that we'd have to deal with some emergency floodlights when the lights went out again. I don't remember how many times it happened after that, but we must have been there for a good 3 hours at least. We all went home with fat stacks of records. Some of them had even been used for some reason and some had DEFECTIVE stickers on them, which was false in every case. (My boy Matty deserves a nod here, he of the Defective sticker fame). One of these records was a sealed copy of the Peech Boys album. At that time, I'd heard of the NYC Peech Boys just for "Don't Make Me Wait," a highly respected early 80's underground NY club smash. So I grabbed this record and a 12" of "On A Journey". Little did I know that this was actually Larry Levan's group, he being the legendary DJ of the Paradise Garage. He founded and produced this band and there's even Paradise Garage logos printed all over it. And yes, it features "Don't Make Me Wait". It's a lush, beautifully produced 80's dance album with Larry Levan on the mix and Keith Haring on the jacket. How much more classical 1980s NYC underground can you get?

Dimples D. "Sucker D.J.'S (I Will Survive)" (Partytime 1983). I hadn't DJ'd for several years while I was working in radio promotion. I was living in Boston working my ass off for very little money, which is really the standard for the music business, especially promotion. A different independent promotion company based in New Jersey were friends with us and threw (they still do) an industry party annually called Hoodstock. They threw it then in this great dive bar across the street from their offices in West New York. When I went they had hired a company to come and do dwarf tossing, and even had Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show to MC the whole affair. I offered to DJ'ed a set since I heard that my friend Moose from this promo company was doing a bit. This bar, stank and old, had the ancient 70's disco booth DJ setup. It's the kind of place where they suspend the mixer from the ceiling with chains and there's a lot of plush shag carpeting on the walls. I don't even remember what I brought down there to DJ, but I'm pretty sure Donny Hathaway's "The Ghetto" was one of the songs that I played. But what was in this decrepid booth was far more interesting and memorable (believe me, I'm still kinda disgusted at the dwarf-tossing).
Under the decks were some records tossed about on a shelf. Most of them were total crap, but as in most cases, I'd like to see them today to see what I mighta missed. But I did find "I Don't Like Music" by Telex (on a WEA International label with Spanish titles) and this one, the Dimples D record. Unlike the Telex record, the Dimples D was in near-mint shape somehow. Maybe this promo copy was dropped off at the club and they just thought it was too rap for them or not disco enough or not freestyle enough.. who knows. But there's no way I could leave it at this pit of a club. Sorry folks. This is Marley Marl's very first 12" release and the first one on Partytime. It's very obscure and hard to find but moreover it's a slamming record (by a female MC) about how "Marley Marl is one hell of a man". God I love rap music.

RIP Gordon Parks. I wish he became a household name while he was still alive- the man more than deserved it. Shaft probably changed my life the first time I saw it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bonus Beats -- DJ Records Pt. 2

So every day last week, I looked at this blog trying to get it together to pull off a new entry. The issue was, the story that I had planned to tell last week was really kinda fuzzy in its details. I outsourced for information! I had to contact Jon (aka Jonny Lov) to jog my memory and get some supplementary facts. Joe Black is the central character of this story and he deserves a blog of his own. Thanks to Jon for the help, he's always there in a pinch.

Ah, the story of Joe Black. This guy was certainly a character, no question. He was a friend of a friend, my buddy Jon who is still around and doing his thing in his hometown. They had gone to school together and known each other for years. I can't really remember much about how I initally got to meet Joe Black but i think he ended up taking my job at the old club (7 Willow Street) I worked at in Port Chester, NY after I went to school. I got to know him in that period of time while coming back to visit from school in Albany, NY. The kid was simply a trip. I later found out that he was one of those people who was always riding up and down the rollercoaster of emotional troubles. He was proof that they can totally interfere a person's life. At this point, no one I know seems to know what Joe Black's doing nor where. The last I saw him, he was working as a runner for an autoparts store in Port Chester. Jon's told me stories about how once in Vermont, Joe was boiling pots of water just to boil em.. let the vapor just go. Jon would ask him why and Joe'd assure him that it was a crucial measure towards purifiying the air. Jon just reasons it out as, "that's just Joe Black". This is, after all, a kid whose name reflected his preference for Black women.. Joe himself was a very light complected Italian-American. Jon has also told me that Joe was the first cat he'd ever seen who would do blends of stuff like Pink Floyd and KRS-ONE. Apparently he'd be at home for hours trying to work it out. If there's one thing you could say about Joe Black it's that the kid had some fucking spirit.

I'm gonna presume that it was around this time that Joe and I got in tighter together. Jon had moved to the left coast and I was still linking up with Joe when I was back in Port Chester, on time off from school in Albany. To cut to the chase, a lot of the memories of Joe are faded because of one event which basically changed everything. One night I was outside the club and Joe walks by with some taller blond kid. Now Joe was all into reggae and shit, smoked weed plenty and probably sold a little here and there-- really nothing that unrealistic. As for anything harder I knew he wasn't really into it. But I looked at him that night and he was fuckin' split right open. The kid was really, really fucked up. I don't know if he was tripping for real or what, but I said what's up and asked him if he was ok at least 3 or 4 times. He shrugged it off and after a few minutes of bullshit went on his way.

I must have gone back to Albany before I'd heard what had happened. Apparently Joe Black had overdosed that night and suffered some kind of breakdown. He was housed up in the mental ward in United Hospital in Port Chester and was about to lose his apartment. I knew he'd had to sell his turntables, probably being hard up at one time. I don't want to make fun of it, but this is something that anyone who's ever wanted to DJ has heard of or experienced. I knew at one point or another all kinds of guys who had the one pitiable belt drive and was saving (basically like what I did) or who were just swinging it with one Technics 1200, the long-time industry standard turntable. Anyhow, he was facing eviction from his little one room joint while he was in the mental ward, so I made some calls and took some time off to come down and help him out. I visited him in the hospital, spoke to his landlord, and bullshitted my parents into letting me clear out some garage space for his shit. His apartment was in pretty poor shape. I don't remember doing any actual cleaning, which was a good thing.

But of course there were the records (that is the point after all). There were the standard old time stolen milkcrates stuffed with records in all kinds of poor shape. If you do the record thing, you've probably seen this a million times--- the cardboard sleeve gets so chafed that not only does it weaken bt it gives up in flamboyant style. The raw paperboard fans out and expands. The white innersleeve gives up at the corners and opens or gets torn by a record's forced hasty
retreat into the sleeve and grows these vicious tears in the middle, where the label cutout looks like it tried to expand. You get the crossed-out songs on the labels, the DJ's name on the label or a stamp. Something about these records is very charming, but you have to wonder where the life in them is. And let's not forget the travesties. There's more of these kind of mistreated records out there than you'd imagine. Afrika Bambaataa's "Death Mix Live" (Paul Winley 1983), above, is one of the best live rap recordings of all time and in good shape is worth at least 200 bucks. I kept it cause you CAN'T let an original go but it's in pretty damn rough condition. It's Bam, Jazzy Jay and others dj'ing with live MCs at James Monroe High School in the Bronx and it was mastered off CASSETTE! Word was that Bam hated it and considered it a bootleg. It came in the wrong sleeve, of course, but it's from the great Emergency label. Emergency released a lot of great dance/r&b in the early 80's.

I visited Joe in the hospital and held onto his stuff for several months. The poor guy was seemingly convinced that he'd been dosed maliciously by someone and told me that he'd wished I'd grabbed him when I saw him. His mom was looking after him at that point, and apparently he was often on this pattern. Jon told me that he was always "just mental." Apparently he'd been battling such demons since he was a kid, having dealt with not really having a father. He was very grateful for me helping him out and let me take whatever I wanted from his crates.

They were confused, sloppy, mistreated records, but brimming with history. So there it was- I was still a young skinhead kid, about 2 years after I'd learned to use a mixer while dj'ing ska music. I was a rap fan but I didn't know that much really. Joe Black inadvertently clued me into collecting (more importantly, UNDERSTANDING) rap in a 12" format and the essence of dj'ing. It wasn't just the records themselves, but what you could get out of them and how they flavored everything. Wherever he is, whatever he's doing, I owe Joe Black big.

Some of these records included:
"Mister Boops" by Resident Alien (Dew Doo Man/Columbia/Ral 1991). The only track ever released by them, and the only release ever on Prince Paul's Dew Doo Man Records label. Needless to say it never quite hit, and Resident Alien has a record that got shelved (never released) called "It Takes A Nation of Suckers To Let Us In." This was something I read about a few times and wondered, "damn, I wonder if I can find that?" I went back into those records from Paul at my parents' house only a year or so ago and realized it was already there-- along with an empty white sleeve for the promo copy. You can see the sticker cut out of that sleeve on the wall shot of DJ Records Pt. 1.

Herbie Hancock/D.ST. "Megamix"(Columbia, 1984). A fine example of a standard DJ record. Very very worn 12" sleeve with double copies shoved into it. Promo only, stupid good.

K-9 Posse "S/t" LP (Arista 1988). JRS called this one out instantly when it went on a mixtape. This record is good and also in AWFUL shape. It's got water damage, a hammered sleeve that doesn't even belong to it, and it looks like it's been walked on for a couple of years. I don't know ANYTHING about this group but there's some HARD late 80s beats on this slice. I need to find another one.
Super Disco Brakes (sic) Vol. 4 (Paul Winley 1981). Years before the reissues of these seminal breakbeat collections, this came out of the Joe Black stacks. Disco Circus, Rock It in the Pocket, Super Sperm... Perhaps one of the most important building blocks in this lesson.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dance to the Drumapella-- DJ Records Pt.1

So i'm going to try to do this every week, i think i can swing that for a while. If anyone has any comments, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to respond by clicking the "comments" link at the bottom right of any posting. My friend Tim has suggested music files be added to this page, and i think it's a good idea. However, i'm not exactly there (read: not that savvy yet) but hope to make this possible soon.

So i alluded towards what DJ records normally look like last week, when mentioning how immaculate the records Tony gave me were. As anyone who's ever collected rap records knows, there's a LOT of destroyed 12"s out there with some guy's name written/stamped on the label, totally worn out grooves (they look flattened and the sound is super low), ridiculously awful scratches, pops and skips, and those bizarre white line burrs that are probably the result of being shoved in and out of a crate with haste. You've never dug for 12"s if you haven't seen a record that's such a nice track but in such shitty condition that you just look at it, stuck over whether you need it that bad. *sigh* That's what most DJ records are like.

However, a part of me kinda misses that too (yeah, i know, i know... i miss a whole lot of shit). With Ebay, most of what you're buying has to be in great shape to even make it on there, at least if you're a reputable dealer. The funny thing with records is that sometimes beat up ones can still sound good-- granted these are usually NOT old DJ records. It's really a testament to buying records "live" when you can find something that looks crappy in condition and you get a deal on it, only to find out that it plays clean. In Westchester County, NY, there were two places that, if only for a little while, served as record dumps for DJs. In Port Chester's Empire State Flea Market (shit, that could be a blog unto itself! Comic books, Wacky Packages, old Playboys, fireworks, army-navy supplies, pickles!) there was a short lived booth that sold records which the owner told me "had been pooled from a lot of old DJs." Strangely enough, i picked up a copy of Fishbone's "Truth and Soul" there as well as a copy of the Colors soundtrack, both sealed. I was with Matty back then, and i think the next time i went there the joint was gone. Definitely one of the spots i'd have liked to really dig up, but the fact that both of the records that i'd gotten were both still sealed must have somehow reflected on the unsealed records... or at least how little i knew at that point.

That Fishbone is still their best all around record, and Colors, well.... Coldcut's 7 Minutes/Madness mix of Eric B and Rakim's "Paid In Full" was on it, among several other killers from Dennis Hopper's '86 gangsploitation flick.

The other joint was also a place i wish i'd dug more thoroughly, although i knew better what they'd had to offer. I think someone had hipped me into a place that was doing used rap 12"s in White Plains, the county seat of Westchester. On East Post Road between Mamaroneck Ave and Court Street there was a surprisingly large place that was stocked with records. I think most of it was all crated and sitting on the floor or on flat carts/dollies. The place in general looked like some old DJ's basement-- i think there was a beat up old turntable coffin in there and music was always playing. I'd gotten to work trying to dig things up and it was a painful experience. For sanity's sake, you learn to forget what the gems were which were too wrecked to even consider buying. At this joint, there was PLENTY. And it was pretty obvious who was running the place, since basically every record had the same guy's name on it. A lot of shit passed up in there, and i also think this was a one-time job for me. But i did get a pristine copy of the then-great french Mc Solaar's "Prose Combat" on promo in there, as well as the 12" for Boogiemonsters' "Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress."

Interestingly, i think an opposite rule that i'd previously discovered was in effect here. Normally, i'd trust flat-out rock stores like The Vinyl Solution in Port Chester, NY as great spots to pick up rap stuff, simply because they weren't being checked for by people looking for rap. Mantronix's "The Album" and Gangstarr's "Step in the Arena" were two of the MANY examples of that, as they came from that store (which was my spot for years, as well as where i bought my first 7" and LP) and neither cost more than 5 dollars.
In this case, it was the rap places that were come-ups for non-rap items. Nothing about the White Plains place gave me any inclination that they could mess with anything like French jazzy hip hop nor anything as drugged out and "alternative" as the Boogiemonsters, even if that song was a bit of a hit. Likewise the Fishbone from the flea market- why else was it sealed?

Both places faded from existence fast. So i'm going to list some of the late great spots in the 914 (that's Westchester, NY) that were great record shops for so long, maybe some heads can remember..
-Record Stop, Four Corners in Hartsdale, NY. I was their last customer on the day they closed circa 1996.. owner was a strange but down Chinese woman named Sue. She knew her metal and punk and loved picture discs. Bought my first CD here.
-Rockin' Rex, Central Avenue, Yonkers, NY. Tony was the much missed owner, very underground and very dope.
-The Vinyl Solution, Main Street, Port Chester, NY. So many years spent here, late nights with owner Jeff Loh drinking while Danny and I worked the bottom racks. Also Meddy, Matt from Memphis Luxure, and Eric who went onto....
-Exile on Main Street, Main Street, Mount Kisco, NY. Eric, of course.. affiliated with and based on Vinyl Solution. Lots of killers here too.
-Tunemaster, Westchester Avenue, then Cottage Avenue, White Plains, NY. Moved to Columbus Ave, Valhalla, NY for its last years. I'll never forgive em for dissing JRS but this place was all about being flawed anyways. Lots of old porn, idiotic "collectables" like Beanie Babies, washed-up "blue" stand-up comedian records like John Valby (he actually has a CD named "Greatest Tits") and a focus on 50's doowop. Despite this and the insistent right-wing radio they always played, they seemed to bring stuff in often. Bob was the owner's name and he tried to go online, who knows if that happened. Scummy but often worth it.

I gotta be missing something, but these were the major places. Going to go back to DJ records next week and tell the Joe Black story.

Take it ease!

at left.. one of the current shelves, cropped for chaos effect. Note Lime Green salt & pepper shakers procured from somewhere in Iowa i think, old Land's End gingham shirt bought from Nazi Dave in Northampton, Mass circa 96, a killer Ubiquity compilation on the bottom left, long milk crate of funk 45s stuffed into rack on right (the Fishbone is filed next to it) and Gato Barbieri's "Last Tango in Paris" leading up the stack of records for Goodwill !

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Al primero

So i'm in the process of wrapping up a mixtape for JRS. Rhythm Master's "Rhythm Magic" (Mosaic 1984) is spinning in this picture, while Rapmasters + DJ 2 "Backstabbers" (Beautiful Sounds 1988) plays the back, on top of Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army's "Replicas" album (Atco/Beggar's Banquet 1979). Foreground is one of a pair of Armenian jazz records which have some funkish groove to them in spots.

Working backwards..
The Armenian records-- i can't even figure out who they are, much less replicate the characters of that language. My friend Christina was clearing out her old house, which belonged to her Armenian grandmother. Among some bad 70's hits collections (I kept one for some reason which came in a big multi-LP box, with random orchestras like Percy Faith's doing versions of big 70's tunes) there were a decent stack of Armenian records. Working my way through them it seemed like most were on the same label; it's possible that it's a state label due to Armenia's Soviet past. All of them were worn and scratchy, but 2 were worth keeping in that vague 60s/70s mild funk way. Christina didn't have any interest in keeping virtually anything from the house, despite whatever value it might have had to her still-alive grandmother.

Gary Numan + Tubeway Army.. hmm, not sure on this one. Might have come from the late Record Hog in Somerville, MA. Good stuff, but good stuff that easily gets refiled with the idea of "gotta come back to this one." I definitely like it more than First Album by them, but it's such celebrated stuff that i will have to come back to both albums.

Rapmasters and DJ 2. This was a blind purchase from a great place that i believe no longer messes with records. Dollar-A-Pound is the ghetto relative of the Cambridge Mass mainstay, The Garment District. Whereas the clothing, which is bundled on the floor and meant for customers to root through, is generally rather suspect (the late great Mikey Dee swore several times he'd picked up conjuctivitis there), their collection of records was at times quite good. For several years they were doing pretty well with the detritus of other records stores that had gone down the tubes. For example, Pipeline Records lasted for a little while in Union Square Somerville after leaving Harvard Square Cambridge, but after the owner gave up he dumped many of his records here. And a record dump it was, total digging paradise. So much crap that there HAD to be something good there once in a while.
They used to go so far as to have sections by genre, 45s and a great "just arrived" section. They even had a listening station at one point. Someone there was adamant about making it into a kinda shabby record store, and i ALWAYS found something there. A US Apple Corps 45 called "Elijah Stone" came from there, and i remember the look i got from whomever rang me up when i pulled out a clean copy of Liquid Liquid's "Cavern" 12"-- that look seemed to say, "I don't know what this is, but I'm sure 4 bucks is not nearly enough." Over time, they cut back a lot and just threw all the browser racks into a back section of the store, did everything for a dollar then 3 for a dollar. They even tried to sell raw vinyl kits they had made for people to shape bowls out of records by heating them in their ovens. About 2 months ago i got an email from my old roommate saying they they were throwing it all away and it was all free. I imagine it's just another spot to forget about but i'll have to take a trip there sometime soon to be sure.

The Rapmasters 12 was a blind purchase, like one a few years earlier called Cop Bop by Portable Patrol. Both are local Boston rap records (Cop Bop is much more disco) and Rapmasters is really damn good, reliant on the O'Jays sample that the song is named after. Very aggressive, chunky production courtesy of what has to be an SP-12. Not much great rap out of Boston back in the 80s, but a few 12"s have come to light in the past couple of years franzy for obscure late 80s rap. Dave Tompkins ("Random Rap Files") speaks highly of this record in an issue of the british GrandSlam magazine, which i once had a link to when it was called Big Daddy.

Rhythm Master. Slept on by me for years, this was one of the golden collecting experiences. This Latino cat, i think his name was Tony, worked for my father for a minute when my dad still had his first restaurant. Tony was a cool guy from the Bronx and at that time (93 or 94) he was in his mid-30s and supporting a family. I think he worked at a hospital and came up to Rye, NY to waiter. We worked together and got along well, mostly. I couldn't understand why he got all revved up talking about Christ, but that was just me. He'd be entirely deadpan, serious as anything when he said, "the world just HAD to be created by Him.. it just HAD to be... it... look at it.... there's no other way!"
Anyhow, i found out that he'd been a DJ in the period between 82 and 84. Not rap, more period dance. Now, recall.. this was when beat-diggers and funk collector people weren't organized as much in the states, and the stuff that i'd read about in terms of "rare groove"was pretty adamant about looking for beats and whatnot within a '69-'74 frame. But it sounded cool and Tony told me that they were just in the crates in his basement in the Bx, and he was worried about them getting water-damaged. He seemed to have no problem giving them up, since he knew that at that point i was really really record hungry and down to just paw through stuff. We talked about money, but perhaps he was fine with giving his boss' son stuff for free (maybe he was just happy to give them to someone who'd take care of them, but i gotta be realistic!). So i'd asked him about it and he forgot a bunch of times, time passed on and i was working other places, and i think he wasn't working that many weekends at the restaurant. I'd pretty much given up on the whole idea when one day, in my parents garage, a plastic crate just showed up sitting on the floor. Now, i had NO idea that this was going to make its way to me, nor that Tony was even around anymore. In fact, i NEVER asked anything about the crate, since i figured that my dad had taken it home for me after Tony'd asked him to do it. So it's only an educated guess that this crate (was it 2?) was in fact Tony's. I was excited about it, at least at first.
At that point in time, i'll admit that i wasn't really that understanding of a lot of the music from that time. What i did, besides get a bit disappointed in many of the records being what i considered soft, generic 80s R&B, was to put it all aside and shelve it. There was some good stuff mixed in, no question, but the real prize was all the material that i pulled out of it years later. I went to college, learned more about dance music and read volumes more about some of the styles. For instance, i'd always loved electro, but learning about it in print made a lot more sense. I'd go visit my parents and dig through those records and find "69 Cancer Sign" by Vericheri or Chris "The Glove" Taylor & David Storrs' "Tibetan Jam" b/w Ice T's "Reckless". Some very ill records from that time period came from that collection, not to mention promo copies of a The Human Body 12"--which was Roger Troutman's group before Zapp. Tony did his work and got promos of a lot of stuff, including lots of doubles, but i should have known by his sartorial, clean-cut demeanor. These records were almost entirely NEAR MINT. No finger prints, no sleeve scuffs, no rounded cardboard, no nothing. It was amazing, even if i am still working through that collection. It's nothing like any DJ collection i've ever seen, and it seems as if Tony didn't get a lot of work DJing. I'd still like to thank him one day.

Rhythm Magic is a great early 80's funk bomb. It made the One-Crate mix that is going into JRS' next package.

Second picture- stepped back from the mess. Far left on top of the TV is Mystic Moods "Erogenous" (Soundisc 1975). More of the Armenian record's cover is visible to the right of the Mystic Moods. On top of the crate on the right is T-Connection "S/T" (Dash/TK 1978) on top of a Stompin' bootleg comp of rock and roll. The mess and general bedlam is, of course, the entire room.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What the hell does that mean?

Ok, record digging should be an understood term.. finding records through much searching and legwork. Not merely walking into a store but digging shit up, therefore making what you find (when you find what you seek) all the more interesting. Uprooting the store and dusting out the corners is a better way to look at it. If this is a thrill you can't really understand, then you're probably not a collector of anything and i feel sorry for ya. Maybe, a little... envious? Nah.

At Home..
Well...... Let's say that i spent a good 13 years (+/-) buying records extensively. As much as i like to understand and pore through a genre, i never limited what i was buying to genre. Ever. So, in the years before i got diagnosed with ADD, i was gleefully bouncing around record stores and salvation armies, picking up stuff that looked interesting, that i'd heard of, read about, seen on another band's "thanks" list, knew the label, etc. etc. etc. So while i'd go out buying records with friends and they'd find 2 records that they wanted, i'd often buy 20. Now, i'm not an idiot (clinically anyhow), and i know how to look for bargains as well as knowing my tastes. I didn't just buy anything, but instead did a lot of legwork learning, reading, and of course, listening.

You can imagine what this does to living quarters... and it makes sense that i'm thinking that my next tattoo will involve crates somehow. Record storage went from plastic crates to industrial shelving, then to specially-made unfinished wood shelving for records. I had basically stopped accumulating records when i knew that i was building walls around myself- my old apartment was like a room which threatened to compress you from three sides.

So now what? Well, i'm further processing and listening, hopefully selling what i now know i don't need. But archiving and preserving are both very important for me. Not only musical history, but my life thus far; records that held importance at different times might have more attachment now than ever before. (Yes, yes, i know.... how very John Cusack/"High Fidelity".... i read the book years after this started.)

So this blog (my first) is about going through my record collection. I'd like to see what i remember and how i react to certain records. Of a 1000-1500 piece collection (that's 12"/LP only) i think i can remember many of the instances of when and where i got them. All in all, that's why i want to do this-- in the past 7 years many of my stores have closed down, gone entirely online or just died. Ebay is definitely nota bad thing, but a big big part of digging for me was the people and the circumstance. Where you got records, the stories you developed, and what you remember and took away is what i want to focus on. Today record collecting is so internet-driven that i would hope to bring a bit of personality back into it-- even if i keep saying i'm a reformed collector.

There's still personality in the wax.