Monday, December 19, 2011
Yes, I know....it's been a minute. For those who I don't know personally, I got a job as an 8th grade math teacher over the summer and I've honestly been too busy to keep up with the blog. I'm now on winter break, however, so once again it's on. Here's some of my favorite finds from 2011, all from record stores here in Nashville. Some are obscure, most are classics, and yes, all of these pictures were taken from my phone. 11 from 2011.
Don Blackman - S/T (GRP)
This is, without a doubt, my #1 find from the countless hours I've spent digging in 2011. True story - my girlfriend and I were driving back from a birthday party in her hometown of Fairview, and I thought to myself, "The Don Blackman record is in this city right now. I'm gonna go find it." (This isn't the first time I've had this feeling...on my first ever trip to The Great Escape in Madison, I wondered if I'd find something cool, like a 12" pressing of Big Daddy Kane's "Raw." Sure enough, I found a damn bootleg 12" of "Raw," with the Kool G Rap verse at the end! Real diggers know about the spidey sense, and it's a beautiful thing.)
Well I went to The Great Escape on Charlotte when I got back to my car, and I did my usual rounds (new arrivals, jazz section, dollar bin), spending close to an hour and a half just playing stuff I've never seen/heard. None of it hit me, even for sampling purposes, so I was headed towards the exit before I saw a crate of freshly-priced LPs sitting on the counter ready to go out. So I'm flipping through the selection - a nice copy of the Breakwater record for $6.99....eh, I already have a copy so I'll let it find another home. The self-titled Edwin Birdsong on Philly International...cool, I have a white label copy but I'll grab this one for $2.99. The....the....*looks around like I just found a $100 bill on the ground*.....I TOLD YOU THIS RECORD WAS IN TOWN!
I paid my $7.64 for those two albums and let out a "WOOOOOOOOO!" as soon as I got in my car. Yes, I've been looking for that album in the field for ten straight years. I still have the $3.99 price tag.
Kool & The Gang - Live at PJ's (De-Lite)
This is another record that's eluded me over the years. Kool & The Gang is my favorite band of all time, but their first four records have been notoriously hard to find in good condition. This one was well worth the $6 price tag at Phonoluxe. Not the cleanest copy, but every song is definitely playable, especially the MONSTER, ALL-TIME CLASSIC, SAMPLED-TO-DEATH banger - "N.T."
Little Beaver - Black Rhapsody (Cat)
Mark down another one for "Artists Whose Early Records Are Hard To Find." Actually, I literally never see Little Beaver records in Nashville (just a couple 45s here and there, usually "Party Down"). I first got wind of this LP (and what was on it) about two years ago, and I got hype when I saw a copy in St. Louis...only to find out that it was a repress. This one was $17.99 at The Great Escape on Charlotte, super-clean and worth every penny. Now watch me find another copy for $4.99 within the next couple months, because that's how it ALWAYS seems to work out.
The Loading Zone - S/T (RCA Victor)
I felt a certain sense of vindication when I found this record in Nashville. Last year, I spent a week at my parents' house in my hometown of Paducah, KY, taking care of our three massive dogs and generally counting down the minutes until I could go back to Nashville. Boredom levels reached critical mass, so one day I attempted to scour every antique store in town in hopes of finding something, ANYTHING that would reverse my apparent hometown curse (for years and years, I never found anything worth mentioning in Paducah. The best records I got growing up in that town were from a water-damaged closet in Joe Casey's Anderson Court apartment. No sleeves for any of them and crud all over the damn place, but it was cool to get my first taste of Donald Byrd's Places and Spaces, attempt to wade through the scratches to hear MJQ's Spaces, and stumble upon some Quasimoto-sampled vocals on an album by The Last Poets).
I knew of one place that had recently opened downtown, and they had an interesting (albeit steeply-priced) selection of 45s. (Ask me about how I got my copy of "Funky Drummer" next time you see me.) Anyway, all these records belonged to the owner, and his wife was the one who usually worked at the shop. My God, she was annoying as hell. Every five minutes she'd come interrupt my session with the question "You find anything you can't live without??" Maybe, lady, but step the hell off and let me dig. I was nice to her though (of course), and this granted me access to the upstairs attic, which was just FILLED with unpriced LPs. I'm talking barely-reachable stacks that required gymnastics-level flexibilty and balance. With that said, the one thing that always pissed me off about this place was the fact that this guy's wife REFUSED to price records. She'd always tell me that her husband had to come in and look at them first, which usually meant that I'd have to wait eight hours/silently disagree with his statements about James Brown (this guy didn't listen to any JB past 1966)/bite my nails in anticipation of the inevitable high prices. I was getting bored with the selection (and acrobatics) in the attic when I decided to hit one last stack - the one that was hardest to get to (being lazy never gets a cratedigger anywhere, right?). I reached straight for the middle, and the first four records I saw were the 50 Foot Hose album, Pookah - S/T (hell yeah!), a King Sun album from 1990, and...yes...The Loading Zone. This is another one I've had on my list forever, but never found in the field. I took all four LPs downstairs and agreed to meet up with her husband later on that night.
To make this ridiculously long story short, he priced the King Sun at $5 (rap holds no weight with this guy, thankfully), settled on $10 for the Pookah (VERY pleased with that one), said something about the 50 Foot Hose being a $250 album (riiiiiiiight), and then looked curiously at The Loading Zone. "Hmmm....I don't believe I remember this one. Looks pretty interesting." "Yeah it's just a jazz album (don't say jazz-rock, don't say jazz-rock) from 68....you know, just standard stuff (PLEASE GOD, LET THIS MAN HATE JAZZ MUSIC)." "Weelllll, I don't know....I think I need to give this one a listen at home first....." "Look, I'm leaving town tomorrow to head back to Nashville. I'll give you $25 for it." "But....I haven't heard it yet." "I'll give you 35 BUCKS for this thing (at this point I'm just trying to win the battle and reverse the hometown curse...I could easily get one cheaper than that off eBay)."
"Sorry, I'm gonna take this one home."
Their store closed down earlier this year, probably on the same day I found a clean copy of The Loading Zone for $9.99 at Grimey's. I think of that encounter in Paducah every time I play this song:
Annette Peacock - The Perfect Release (Aura)
Much to my delight, I finally found a copy of this at The Great Escape on Charlote for $6.99. It looked absolutely unplayed, and they also had another Annette Peacock album sitting behind it in the same condition (no, fellow collectors, not THAT Annette Peacock album). This record is home to the massive drum break used in J-Live's SUPER CLASSIC "Braggin' Writes," produced by my man Georges Sulmers - and by produced I mean that he found this break and handed two copies to J for him to destroy (J-Live - "Braggin' Writes"). (True story - I've held the aforementioned doubles of this album that J-Live cut up. I had a picture on my old phone but lost it along the way. Just one of the cool pieces of indie-rap history you can find in Georges' formidable record room.)
Loose Ends - "Stay a Little While, Child" / "Gonna Make You Mine" (Virgin/MCA)
Not much to say about this one except it's a stone-cold classic. I first heard this tracj on the Bugz in the Attic Life: Styles compilation back in 2005 and I just loved the vibe. Laid back, funky, sexy...all in that patented almost-too-damn-cheesy style that pervaded the best songs of the mid-80s. This 12" single is notable because it's the only place you can find "Gonna Make You Mine" - a dancefloor classics that was originally released as a b-side.
Kool & The Gang - Music Is The Message (De-Lite)
Again, it's really hard to find early Kool & The Gang in good condition. I paid $20 for this copy at Phonoluxe and the wax is absolutely pristine. This album grooves from beginning to end, and it's home to my favorite K&TG track of all-time. Check that - one of my favorite songs PERIOD. One of the most joyful, uplifting, beautiful, inspiring tracks to ever emerge out of the funk genre, and I absolutely LIVE (not love, LIVE) to put people on to this song. So for anybody out there who has never experienced the power of the title track from Music Is The Message - ENJOY (and I honestly wish I could be you so I could hear that horn breakdown for the first time again)
Rudy Love & The Love Family - S/T (Calla)
I got my first copy of this album earlier this year in Chattanooga. It was a promo, super-clean wax, but when I got back home I found that there was a tiny hiccup in the bridge. Still listenable, of course, but when you play it out you're just asking for the dancefloor to lose it's groove for a split-second (that's when you look curiously at your turntable and make sure that everyone knows it's not your fault, right DJs?). I found another copy a few months later for $9.99 at The Great Escape in Madison, and this one, while not a promo, was just as clean....and didn't have the skip. I love this song, by the way. Great lyrics and a bonafied funk-face groove ("SWEET!").
Kay Dennis - S/T (Pearce)
Found this in the dollar bin at Grimey's. The cover was so shiny and crisp that I thought it was a new record - something "groovy" that warranted a "groovy 60's cover" or whatever. Without looking at who the artist was, I flipped it over to see a picture of Ms. Kay Dennis and her band onstage, accompanied by a tracklist featuring a lot of standards....including a NICE cover of "Light My Fire." Best dollar bin find of the year, without a doubt. Apparently this record is fairly scarce, but can still be purchased at a decent price (Popsike listings).
This song pretty much sums up the sound of the album - lounge vocals over funky backdrops. Very nice:
Audiodirections Presents - The Grab Bag (Direct Disk)
The Grab Bag is a group of session musicians, and this album was recorded right here in Nashville in 1976. The Direct Disk label is exactly what it implies - a private release that was recorded direct-to-disk, a method that requires the mixing and mastering to be done simultaneously as the band is playing, due to the fact that it's being cut directly into a master disk with no tape edits or overdubs. Since everything is recorded in real-time, the band has to play each side (appoximately 16-18 minutes each) all the way through with no (or minimal) mistakes and basically zero stoppage (except for a few moments of silence between tracks to change out sheet music). I have a couple other direct-to-disk LPs in my collection, and you have to marvel at the level of musicianship it requires to cut one of those records. This music on this album is slicky-produced jazz, and the arrangements become more impressive when you take the recording style into account. I believe this is the only song available on YouTube, but there are rips of the album available elsewhere on the web if you want to hear the whole thing. I got lucky and found my copy for $2.99 at The Great Escape in Madison.
Gwen McCrae - S/T (Cat)
We'll end it off with a fairly common record that has eluded me for years. I honestly only play one track off here, but it's an absolute classic and definitely worth the $4.99 I paid at Grimey's. Love the vocals, love the groove. Big shout out to The Large Professor!
Well, how's that for coming out of blog hibernation? I love my city and I'm happy to support all the local record stores. Next up is to make a new mix for you guys with all this wax I've been buying. Stay tuned and thanks for checking this out!
Until next time,