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 !