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In high school, I found out Armen Keteyian is the person responsible for making NCAA basketball anthem “One Shining Moment” famous, and I’ve hated him ever since. CBS Sports has shoved it into our ear canals every April since the ’80s because of him. There’s an entire website dedicated to the song. Even the normally dignified Luther has lent his voice to it. (Teddy P too, but he’s always struck me as a play-for-pay kind of guy who’d take any gig, so this isn’t a shocker.) It’s a dumb piece of music that turns the joyous ache consuming the bodies of young athletes into a big sappy graduation speech over a beat. There’s no stopping it. And here it comes, since it’s almost April. THANKS, ARMEN.
They’re cueing up ”One Shining Moment” in the CBS studio at this very moment – GO ‘CATS! – and as a person with ears and a soul, I should be grouchy about that. But researching the song for the purposes of this post required me to actually listen to the song – and I’ve just realized “One Shining Moment” may actually have a place in my life (??). It’s got nothing to do with athletics – sure, I’m slightly above average in height, with a perfect mid-range jumper and a dominating presence in the paint, but I’m also lazy and uncoachable; basketball’s not my thing. You know what my thing is, though? Picking records, listening to find out how they hit my ears and heart (or not, as the case may be), and presenting the results in online blogs featuring many pictures of myself looking all cute and shit. I’m a natural. I’m also a Beat Swap Meet regular, and when I actually read the lyrics of the song, I’ll be damned if that second verse, right before the bridge, doesn’t hit home: “When it’s done, win or lose/You always did your best, ’cause inside you knew/(That) ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU REACHED DEEP INSIDE/ONE SHINING MOMENT, YOU KNEW YOU WERE ALIVE.” See, I just did a whole lot of reaching deep inside record bins, feeling alive as hell as I exchanged cash for music. “One Shining Moment,” it turns out, is the BSM anthem! Armen Keteyian, you rascal.
I set up my own March Madness bracket to determine the apartment 680 champion for BSM #24, held on a warm Sunday earlier this month in Chinatown, as always. A note on the seeding process: ranking was based only on my level of excitement upon finding each one. The winner of each matchup, however, was determined by old-fashioned intensity of listening pleasure – a heady, mysterious criteria, subjective as hell. My bracket, my rules™.
The Soul Searchers, We the People (5) vs. The Wonderful Side of the Mustangs (11)
I know the band but I’ve never pursued We the People in the wild. It just never struck me as a must-have. But I found it for cheap, and today it gets a high seed based on my knowledge of quality output from Chuck Brown, the fact that it’s on Sussex, and, yes, maybe a little bit because of the current media presence Allen Iverson, cornrowed pretty-eyed bowling alley thug with a crossover embedded in my memory like the hook in that EPMD song. His retirement ceremony was just on, and lots of longform pieces had popped up in tribute online. He was on my mind. DC was on my mind because Georgetown was on my mind, and it was all because of Allen. Anyway, I knew this one would sound exactly like its cover told me it would, and since big fat drum breaks are always on my mind, it got added to my stack. In case you forget it came out in ’72, flipping it over and seeing the words “Your Love is so Doggone Good” on the tracklist will remind you. (“Ashley’s Roachclip” did the same thing in ’74.) The fact is you simply cannot go wrong with anything on Sussex, especially in 1972 – We the People was released between Heavy Love and Electric Coffey. Sexy.
Nassau is Funky, sure, but when it comes to our collective geographic awareness, the Bahamas are repped by the incredibly boring duo of Mychal Thompson and Ulrich Fox. Or maybe that’s just basketball fans’ collective geographic awareness. My brain is heavy with basketball right now. In any case, I chose the Mustangs because of that rad, unusual cover, and because it was released on something called Penn Records (I generally love tiny hot-climate record labels). It was a pick based on curiosity – the fact that I gave it a lowly 11 seed should say something about my shaky confidence in the music itself.
The Heptones, Legends from Studio One (15) vs. The Pogues, Red Roses for Me (12)
Rock steady, baby/That’s what I feel now! My intro to the Heptones was the horn-heavy anthem to bitterness “Pretty Looks Isn’t All,” a song about a bitchy island girl who likes some Rick Fox-looking jerk. I’ve loved Earl Morgan’s voice ever since, but when I get really honest with myself, it’s Leroy’s voice that’s synonymous with the Heptones – high and sweet, perfect for rocksteady slow-dancing or rocksteady crying face-down on your bed because you want to slow dance with Rick Fox but it’ll never happen. I need more of that voice in my apartment, and when I saw “Sweat for You Baby” on the track list, that did it. It’s actually called “Swept for You Baby,” but “Sweat” actually works better. It’s more accurate, considering your body’s response to the nearness of your crush. (Big Youth flipped the song in an incredible way, even though linking to it makes me deeply uncomfortable.) There’s also a lovely version of “Break Up to Make Up,” wackily titled “Make Up to Break Up” (!), but no matter how you arrange the words in the title, it would not exist without the songwriting contributions of my girlfriend Linda Creed. She had great stories about meeting and learning from Sly Stone, who helped her improve her songwriting technique and who probably tried to fuck her, I’m guessing?
The Pogues. Because 1. It was St. Patrick’s Day. 2. My name is LOGAN. I plucked this one out of the bin, did a jig, then blew up a car, sent a donation to Sinn Fein, and went to mass.
Booker Ervin, Structurally Sound (7) vs. Oliver Nelson, The Blues and the Abstract Truth (3) (Died at 39 and 43, respectively)
Mingus was my entry point for Ervin. Setting the Pace became my joint the summer after tenth grade, and I dove into all the Book records in college. I’m willing to accept that the gentleman I saw at the BSM with the Strata-East shirt on perhaps had a subconscious impact on my decision to buy this (Charles Tolliver’s name is on the credits). This one would’ve been an instant purchase regardless, though – second pressing on Pacific Jazz, super clean condition. I awarded it a high ranking based on the fucking undeniable offense of Mr. Ervin, the names of Tolliver and Red Mitchell on the back cover, the inclusion of “Take the A Train” (I’m reading a Billy Strayhorn biography), and the fact that, though it’s not the Temptations’ version, “You’re My Everything” is included in the track list (OH how I love the Temptations’ version of “You’re My Everything.” Ruffin coming in with that “ba-by” at 01:32? Aw damn.)
Listen, I hate “Cuse,” “Zona,” “Nova,” and every other stupid syllable-shaving effort put forth by dudes on the Internet trying to be cute during college basketball season. Names are important. They should be appointed only after careful thought. Oliver knows. The Blues and the Abstract Truth gets a boost in the rankings on account of its beautiful, cuteness-free title, an aspirational description of the things Oliver’s septet has in store for you (folk songs via brass and drums in a New Jersey studio, a particular kind of truth, and maybe some more stuff if the band has time). Van Gelder’s always yammering on about space in his recordings, “the songs have to have a sense of space,” whatever, all I know is that he’s good at his job and GOOD LORD was I excited to find this one, a surprisingly elusive little bastard that everyone in LA seems to snatch out of the bin before I arrive. Haynes is here, along with Hubbard, Chambers, and MY #1 LOVER Eric Allan Dolphy, jr., AKA the funky diabetic AKA sax/flute game Adam Morrison. These guys are special to me, as I overplayed my CD of this album during my formative years as both a woman and a jazz dork. There’s a definitive spot exactly where those 2 paths in my life cross, and that spot happens to be right in the middle of my living room floor where my dress lands in a soft heap when “Stolen Moments” comes on.
Albert Ayler, Prophecy (2) vs. Bobby Timmons, Do You Know the Way? (10)
(age 34 and 38)
All the Ayler I ever see in the field that’s even remotely affordable for me is last year’s reissue of Spirits Rejoice, and there’s no fucking way I’m letting an Ayler reissue anywhere near my sacred turntable. Stop it. When I came across Prophecy, I had a moment of conflict. It’s an Italian pressing with a janky sleeve (two pluses in my book), live in ’64 (PLUS), but its pressing is circa 2002 from the 1975 original and that’s a big fat minus. After standing and thinking for an eternity, though, I finally added it to my stack, seduced by the two versions of “Ghosts.” The next day I came across the album’s 3-star review on Allmusic.com, a deeply upsetting judgment that interfered with my ability to sleep that night. Scott Yanow, you can just fuck right off.
Morelike Do You Know the Way to Monk’s Barbershop Because I Want That Kinda Beard. Timmons is vintage emo-masculine and irritatingly underrated. He forever has a place in my heart that began with 10 to 4 at the 5 Spot and my love for him has only deepened from there, and I saw Strayhorn’s “Something to Live For” on the track list of Do You Know the Way?, so this one was an instant pick. Billy Strayhorn was the Michael Sam of the big band era, people.
Eric Kloss, Doors (14) vs. Pharoah Sanders, Deaf Dumb Blind (4)
YEP. My boyfriend Jackie McLean got me interested in oddball alto sax players and I was hoping Kloss would provide me with Arthur-Blythe-like thrill levels. Nope, Kloss didn’t do that, but I’m still in love with the fact that he named an album Grits & Gravy. (I was so excited when I found it! With my leftover cash I bought my mama a car and spent the rest on PCP.) Kloss is weirdly absent from jazz-bro discussions about sax greats, I’m told (girls aren’t allowed to participate in such discussions, dummy). He’s a shadowy figure never on anyone’s favorite list, despite his pedigree as a student of Sonny Stitt (by which I mean Charlie Parker, LOLOLOLLLLL, am I right, guys?) and loose, swingy style that somehow works with that sharp, bossy tone of his. Seems like he’d be jazz-bro catnip, but what do I know? I’m a girl, dummy! Anyway, Doors is on Cobblestone, so I figured what the hell.
Deaf Dumb Blind was an auto-purchase. I know the material on this record is improv-spiritual-top-of-the-mountain jazzbeard porn, but it was actually the cover that got me going; I can’t lie. The credits on the back also got me going – McBee, Bartz, Liston Smith, Jarvis, Shaw – and I can’t lie about that neither.
Sam Rivers, Streams (9) vs. Loudon Wainwright III, Attempted Mustache (8)
Ladies and gentlemen for your listening pleasure this evening in lovely Montreux on the banks of Lake Geneva, I present Sam Rivers performing his work Streams, featuring Crystal Waters and Billy Ocean, HEY-OOO. Sam’s already got a good reputation in apt. 680 on account of Crystals, and apart from that beautiful cover, I liked that this was a 1973 Impulse! release not by Keith Jarrett, the label’s annoying golden boy of ambiguous ethnicity. I also figured Sam getting helped along by Cecil McBee and Norman Connors would make this one a solid purchase.
Loudon gets the “the fuck are you doing here?” look for being the only earnest, wordy dude in the sea of jazz and funk cats that make up this haul. Diversity is sorely lacking in my bracket, I admit, but I’m doing a thousand times better than the NCAA when you survey the vast landscape of past and current representative faces of D1 basketball – Izzo, Boeheim, Calhoun, Smith, Knight, Coach K. (“Preach,” said Tommy Amaker and Kevin Ollie.) Loudon obviously lacks a jazzbeard himself, but his album title got him a spot in this region. He occupies the tourney’s sole Poignant Caucasian Songwriter slot that John Prine or Randy Newman could’ve just as easily taken.
R.B. Greaves (16) vs. Southside Movement, Moving South (1)
(R.B. Greaves was Sam Cooke’s nephew; Southside Movement ended up in this region because it didn’t fit anywhere else)
R.B. Greaves think he cute and has the unabashed GALL to cover “Cupid” on this record. You are therefore questioning my taste regarding this purchase and silently judging me, I can feel it. But if you were in my shoes at the BSM, and you held the Greaves record in your hands and saw the words “Muscle Shoals” + “String arrangements: Arif Mardin” on the back cover, you’d make the same choice. He’s got a smooth, Cat Stevens thing happening with his voice, and yep, the strings are killer, annnnnd that’s about it in terms of bright spots. This one aims for Southern Emo and ends up at Starbucks in Kind of a Bad Mood, but ”Birmingham” is the one tear-jerker here, pandering and sentimental, and I adore it. I left the “guilty” in guilty pleasures back in the summer of 2007. I’m grown, and I feel free to acknowledge the things that move me without shame. Only god can judge me. I also know that fucking Larry Bird inspired “One Shining Moment,” so tear-jerking moments can come from the corniest of places and you just need to accept it.
Southside Movement enters the tourney as the #1 seed, straight out of 1975 and sounding exactly like it, with those Middlebrooks-ish horns and Melvin Moore’s growl makin me wanna check the TV listings for the season premiere of The Jeffersons and flip through the newspaper for some coverage of high school phenom Darryl Dawkins. Moving South is well-produced, clean, tight, punchy, but it’s got enough bass and grit to satisfy a lady just like I knew it would. When you get down to it, I just trust 20th Century Records. I trust Russ Regan. Moving South also has that real quick Gravediggaz break so I knew I’d love it. I trust Prince Paul.
Lee Andrews and the Hearts, Biggest Hits (13) vs. Gene Ammons, Jungle Soul! (Ca’ Purange) (6)
“Richard Pitino, huh? HIRED,” said Minnesota’s Athletic Director in 2011.
“Questlove’s dad!” I said softly to myself when I picked up the Lee Andrews record and hugged it tight. “You’re coming home with me.” A lifetime of listening to Art Laboe in cars has given me a healthy affection for doo-wop, but I’d be lying if I said the last name Thompson* had nothing to do with this purchase. You gotta figure that a bloodline means something when it comes to talent, right? I’m not mad at you, Norwood Teague.
* Lee Andrews’ driver’s license says Arthur Lee Andrew Thompson.
Jungle Soul is Bad! Bossa Nova with an uncool title and a better cover. Gene Ammons is in the Kin region as the son of Albert, but that’s only because there was no Boss region. (Springsteen and Benson would’ve been his competitors. “Boss” would’ve been a great nickname for John Thompson, too – he’s big and deep-voiced, plus there’s that story about him Joe Clark-ing the shit out of that drug dealer in DC.) Burrell, Jones, and Jackson are the sidemen on this one and I’m not an idiot, so I scooped it up and brought it home.
The Mustangs (11) beat the Soul Searchers (5) (!)
Stunning! Glorious! As I typed this, news came in about #14 Mercer beating #4 Duke, a stunning, glorious event. LawdaMERcer. The Soul Searchers ain’t the musical equivalent of a historically dominating force like Duke (that would be Gaye or Mayfield, thank you), but when they tried to set a screen to let their chunky dancefloor bass take the lead, it looked like it just might work. Alas, no. They failed to account for the Mustangs’ ability to make me feel like I’m wearing a sundress while in young Bahamian love on an 84-degree day. There’s always next year.
The Heptones (15) beat the Pogues (12)
The Heptones go with your standard pick-and-roll offense perfected by coach Coxsone Dodd; solid and effective, if a bit underwhelming because my ears are spoiled and I’m not as wowed by greatness as I used to be. The Pogues would go on to unleash a fun, raucous, fast-break offense in later years, but they just don’t get loose enough for my liking on Red Roses for Me. I need my Irish rogues to be drunk, scarred, and charismatic – dirtbags with hearts of gold, because I am a walking stereotype of a woman. Anyway, I don’t know what took them so long to reveal that side of themselves on their albums – MacGowan was 27 when this one came out, which seems old for a hellraiser.
Oliver Nelson (3) beats Booker Ervin (7)
Aw, this was a tough one and it could’ve just as easily gone the other way. The Nelson record isn’t infallible, mind you, as it takes a tiny misstep on the otherwise perfect “Stolen Moments.” (I love Dolphy. I don’t love Dolphy on flute. Letting him do heavy work on anything other than alto sax is a big waste. It’s having Richard Pryor at your birthday party just to help hang the decorations.) And Ervin left it all out on the court – side 1 of Structurally Sound is gorgeous, opening with “Berkshire Blues” (no link, and it KILLS ME) then leading into the beauuuutiful “Dancing in the Dark.”
Add the fine assist work put in by John Hicks, and the fact that the whole squad is coached by my man Richard Bock, and you can see how Ervin almost took this one. Dueling “Stolen Moments” led to a buzzer-beater at the end, though, with “Yearnin” giving Oliver the slight edge, shout to Bill Evans. It’s that Van Gelder space thing again, man. Richard Bock, you rule, west coast forever and I mean that, but where do you stand on spatial relations? And Booker, before you go, can you please explain the “Telleferro” middle name? Yeah yeah, Booker T., I get it, but what’s the deal.
Albert Ayler (2) beats Bobby Timmons (10)
I love Timmons* and Do You Know the Way? will see a lot of time on apartment 680′s turntable (skipping over the surprisingly dull title track), but he just came out all lackluster next to Ayler, who cruised to an easy victory. There’s a reason people say, “Your love is like the Holy Ghost” when they really fucking want you to feel it in your bones. No disrespect, Bobby, but don’t nobody compare their love to a pianist.
* no links for anything from Do You Know the Way? (other than the title track. But it’s surprisingly dull, so I won’t link it.)
Eric Kloss (14) beats Pharoah Sanders (4)
Sanders and crew shouldn’t have even suited up, because Kloss comes onto the court with a spooky intro that turns into a pretty, sparkly groove before you know it. My man has been doing the shit for a lonnnng time, put in his work and has been laying in the cut since he was in ninth grade, YOU LOSER. None of the stuff after it lives up to the title track’s beauty, and what the hell is a song called “Libra” doing on here if you aren’t Dennis Coffey or a Libra (Eric’s an Aries), but Doors gets the win for simply being more listenable than the Sanders record. It’s crazy, I know. No disrespect to Farrell’s spiritual calling; in determining a winner, I just had to consider which one of these is going to see more time on my turntable. But hey, how funny is it that this matchup featured an actual blind man winning out over deafness, dumbness, and blindness? (I’m going to hell.)
Loudon Wainwright III (8) beats Sam Rivers (9)
Jazz bros are mad that Rivers was left off the stupid Blue Note
publicity stunt pointless reissue cash grab 75th Anniversary Vinyl Initiative. Jazz bros are always looking for something to be mad about, though, and as long as they occupy themselves with this harmless shit it means they have less time to troll me. Anyway, the bros don’t believe these are my records or my words, so they won’t bother getting themselves mad that Sam lost to Loudon in the tournament. Hey, my precious Fuschia Swing Song, I love you, and the cover, personnel, and free-flowing beauty of Streams made me believe it might be able to pull out the victory here. But Loudon wins on account of his song choices and overall warmth he emits throughout the entire record. The fact that he’s got a lady banjo player and Tommy Cogbill helped him a little, too. He opens with “The Swimming Song,” which is either about life, death, and love, or just stripping down and swimming in some damn water. Either way, you add some weed smoke and you’ve got my childhood living room.
Southside Movement (1) beats R.B. Greaves (16)
Mount St. Mary’s could never have prevailed over North Carolina. Liberty never stood a chance against St. Joe’s. UNC Asheville wasn’t taking Pitt. A 16 seed has never beaten a 1 seed and there’s no need to start now. The way Greaves cries “Al-a-ba-muuuuuh” in “Birmingham” is pretty, but one vocal bright spot can’t make this record a winner over the crew from Chicago – whose “Country Girl” is a real banger, by the way. Most songs called “Country Girl” are.
Gene Ammons (6) beats Lee Andrews and the Hearts (13)
It’s called Madness for a reason but this was pretty damn expected. March Expectedness. Going into the game, I’ll admit I was biased toward Gene because of past pleasures he’s brought me, but he was just the better player in this matchup. Turns out that a bloodline isn’t enough to make me want to put a so-so doo-wop record on heavy rotation, no matter how much I love your son’s music and his spirit so free he accepts his guarded, vulnerable, friends-less life not unlike my own. I feared I lost a little bit of my affection for vintage streetcorner vocal masculinity when I picked Ammons over the Hearts. Was this the end of my love affair with harmonizers who are old enough to be my grandpas? Alas, no – I remembered how hard I had rolled my eyes on the drive home when I passed by a big stupid Nick Waterhouse billboard, and I realized I’d always be your beloved “The Funk Brothers already did it, 50 years ago and better” girl. There’s one at every party.
The Mustangs (11) beat the Heptones (15)
This was less of a nail-biter than the rankings would indicate, though it’s hard for me to tell the full story since I could find zero links to any of the Mustangs’ songs. These are two quality squads from the West Indian Conference but the Mustangs just blow the Heptones out of the warm, clear, blue, sediment-free water. They sealed the win with their sweet song choices and that janky ’70s island studio sound – you know what I mean. It’s tinny and fat-bottomed at the same time? There’s bass, but not really? YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
Oliver Nelson (3) beats Albert Ayler (2)
Ayler is church. Proper attire and a good night’s sleep are necessary. You’ll break down and cry because life’s blessings are sweet. Or you’ll start fidgeting because you’re not in the mood and just want the sermon to be over.
Nelson is the bar at 1 AM when “90% of Me is You” comes on – you won’t learn nothin new from its easy, mindless pleasure, but sometimes you just wanna rest your glass of Maker’s on your thigh and lean your head back and feel the bass. Either way, God is good. .
Eric Kloss (14) beats Loudon (8)
Loudon’s stories couldn’t hold up to Eric’s run-and-gun offense. Eric’s album is just lighter, less fraught with real-world bittersweet aches and pains. I can’t lie; he also benefits from being on the same team as The Gap Sealer (overlooked as hell) and from being a classic horn-break source for the mighty D-E-L.
Southside Movement (1) beats Gene Ammons (6)
Ooh, Chicago v Chicago! BRUTAL! Ha, just kidding – it was never really a contest. Despite the corny Betty Wright-ish canned applause that opens the Southside record, its pleasure factor is superior to Ammons’, who brings pleasant enough fake bossa nova to the masses but doesn’t wow me with any walking-down-the-street themes. Or it could be that I’m just holding a grudge, because fuck Gene for introducing Miles to heroin.
The Mustangs (11) beat Oliver Nelson (3)
The Mustangs make me plenty happy without needing to disrobe, which is more than I can say for Mr. Nelson and crew. Ain’t no fun listening to “Stolen Moments” when there’s nobody around for any dress-removing moments to be stolen. I know it’s unfair and he’s just a casualty in my game of love, but I had to hand Oliver a defeat on account of my single-lady woes. Plus his resemblance to Eddie Harris started to get really distracting.
Southside Movement (1) beats Eric Kloss (14)
Offense wins games, defense wins championships, and funk band versatility beats altoist consistency. Every time. Eric will get lots of chances to work it all the way out on my turntable; this loss is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just that Southside’s got sweaty dancefloor burners, midtempo housecleaning burners, and a couple of late-night makeout songs. Extra points awarded for including a song called “Can You Get to That” that is blessedly not a cover. I only need one version of perfection.
The Mustangs brought a combination of romance and bass that I found irresistible. They also provided me a valuable moment of self-reflection, as I now realize I’m not very good at ranking albums based on my projected enjoyment of them. No matter – this is a happy ending, since an 11 seed gets to cut down the net, while I remain the overall champion because all 16 contestants live with me in my apartment, where I play them whenever I damn well please.
Thanks for playing along, and remember: reach deep inside, and don’t quit! DON’T EVER QUIT!*
* digging, I mean!
(c) Jim Valvano
They say everything old is new again. Music is no exception and Crown City Entertainment is doing it right. According to their website they are, “Devoted to creating new music for those who love vintage music and was founded with a vision of following the blueprints laid out by great musicians from the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and expanding upon it to make it distinctly “modern.” One of their up and coming artists is Reality Jonez. Born and raised in Pasadena Jonez was surrounded by music at a young age. According to his bio, “Music would prove to be an indispensable form of release for Jonez, a troubled youth who looked to singing and songwriting in hopes of turning his life around. He counts Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, and Curtis Mayfield among his influences, but is perhaps most inspired by Marvin Gaye, whom Jonez has garnered many comparisons to, with his rich falsetto and gritty, driven natural tone.” His latest release is the single, “A Million Girls” with “If You Only Knew” on the b-side. [jwplayer mediaid="2506"]
I LOVE oldies and soul music. I’m Mexican so I grew up on it. If you were to play “A Million Girls” and ask somebody older what year the song they came out they would probably say the 60′s. It is straight baby making music. Grown folks music. It has nice drums, pianos and strings. Jonez falsetto voice matches the song perfectly. It’s a great song. It makes you want to grab that special somebody and slow dance. The b-side “If You Only Knew” is a more uptempo song. Jonez switches up his style and sings in a more raw style as opposed to the smooth falsetto. It is one of those songs that will immediately get any wallflower on the dance floor. Good old fashioned soul music.
Crown City Entertainment is definitely one of my favorite new labels. They are doing the new modern funk and soul music properly. For more information about them and their artists check out their website. If you are interested in purchasing Reality Jonez music click this link.
by DJ Dirty Soap
The first time I dropped a needle on the Angel City Records release, “What’s it Gonna Be” by Xiantoni Ari, I found myself staring at the tiny 45 rpm record in utter disbelief. Was this really a brand new song? Or was it yet another one of those lost tracks from the 1960’s that was recently resurrected from Berry Gordy’s basement? As Angel City Records founders Mark Morales and Wally Caro would describe it, this is “The Now Sound of LA”- vintage soul, reggae, and ska music brought to you with live instruments and vocalists. It is a sound that has vast potential for growth, especially with the increasing popularity or northern soul music within the DJ community. Recently I sat down with Mark and Wally to discuss the birth of their new label and its roots in the City of Angels.[jwplayer mediaid="2497"]
DDS: How did Angel City Records get its start?
Mark: Angel City Records as a label is about a year old now, but it actually started with the “Angel City Soul Club” which was a party I created in LA about ten years ago. It was all soul music, all vinyl, and all original pressings. That was a big thing for us from the beginning, being authentic- it’s a principal that we try to keep consistent with the label today as well.
Wally: When Mark and I started working together we were promoting live shows. It was a combination of vintage ska and reggae acts along with American soul artists from the sixties- big Motown names like The Marvalettes and Brenda Holloway. The first time we worked together, Mark was working on a soul night featuring northern soul icon, Gwen Owens. I was the band leader behind the backing band. We lost touch for a bit after that show, but reconnected a few years later and became good friends.
DDS: You describe Angel City Records as the “Now Sound” even though you are mostly producing classic soul and reggae. Care to elaborate on what that means?
Mark: Sure, we’re not trying to be total purists with the 1960’s and 1950’s soul and ska stuff, we’re trying to give it our own sound. A sound that not only a purist can hear and think, “Hey that’s pretty good,” but a sound that someone that listens to contemporary pop music can appreciate as well. If we do a cover, it’s not just a straight cover, it’s the labels spin on it. Something that we haven’t been seeing a lot from other labels is an emphasis on the development of artists. We don’t just find an established band and say, “let’s sell some of your records.” We work to build artists and bands from the ground up. We work with their image, song selection, their stage presence, clothing, vocal styling…and just about every angle of their career. It’s really about creating a sound and look with class. We really try to capture our sound from Los Angeles. We love where we’re from and we love the history. At the end of the day we are a label representing LA and we take a lot of pride in that.
Wally: We feel that within our scene there are great artists, great bands, and great DJ’s, there’s really nothing like the LA scene, but what we wanted to do is give people a show when they come see us. If you’re going to an Angel City show you’re going to walk in and say, I paid for an event. We’ve brought in a full string section. We brought in Nolen Pointer, another northern soul artist, as just the emcee. We try to give people a real show, and we’ve kind of gotten away from that as musicians and as a music scene sometimes. We want people to be excited about what they are seeing. It’s about creating an experience, a production. We’re really working hard toward keeping the bar up musically and just trying to bring that coolness back.
DDS: I’ve noticed that as a label, Angel City Records also places a strong emphasis on producing vinyl. Why is vinyl so important to you as a label?
Mark: We are big vinyl guys. CD’s sound great and Mp3’s sound great, but the sound of vinyl is unmatched. There’s just a feeling about putting an actual record on.
Wally: It’s almost like music has grown so much with digital formatting, maybe to the point that we’ve lost a sense of what music really is. But there’s always been something about vinyl, almost like you’re getting back to music in its essence. I’m third or fourth generation here in Los Angeles, and records have always been a big part of my life growing up. My dad would talk about growing up and things that he would do, you know cruising Whittier Boulevard or playing records on his old turntable with springs on it. So even though all of my dad’s records are completely beat up now, holding a record still feels like holding a piece of that history for me. I can’t really explain it, but listening to vinyl feels the best to me, like eating a good meal with fresh ingredients.
DDS: Mark, as a DJ that has been involved in the scene for decades, what are your thoughts on the digital transition of music and DJing today?
Mark: You know, maybe five years ago I would have probably said “F that.” Now I realize that when you go to a club and you hear someone playing the music you like that’s really what matters. I myself am still a purist though. I like playing 45s and original press records, but in general it’s all about playing good music. Twenty years ago, my friend George and I were a few of the only guys doing this with the vintage soul and Jamaican stuff. Truth be told, we were total snobs back then. You start seeing a billion DJs and different parties popping up and it definitely changes the scene. About a year ago, I distinctly remember hearing someone play “African Queen,” which is a rare ska record by Ronald Wilson that I spent about a thousand dollars for some time back. I remember thinking to myself, there’s no way that this guy has that original record, and sure enough he didn’t. So early on it bothered me, because you spend a lot of time and money collecting, but on the other hand with all the represses it makes it easy for a DJ to spin a record that ten years ago no one even knew existed. At the end of the day, getting to hear the music through a nice sound system is what matters. That’s precisely why we started doing clubs in the first place. To hear our music loud and get people to dance with one another as opposed to dancing to a band.
Wally: When we were younger, we would dig and we would find stuff and that was really the beauty of it. Whether it was records, clothes or shoes, it was great locating a rare record or Fred Perry jumper for practically nothing. But today you can do a Google search and find pretty much anything you want. A lot of kids today don’t get the feeling of just going to a random store and being able to say, “ Oh shit, I found it!” That can be a much more rewarding feeling.
DDS: One of my favorite releases by Angel City Records is the 45 you put out by Xiantoni Ari. Tell me a little more about working with her.
Wally: Xiantoni is the daughter of Gwen Owens, whom I mentioned earlier. She was a sixties soul singer that has some big hits amongst the northern soul crowd (she was also a member of the 70’s disco group “Hot”). We ended up booking her again for the Roy Ellis show at the Echo we threw a couple years back. Gwen would always bring her kids on board for the backing vocals when she performs, so that’s how we were introduced to both Xiantoni and Xavier. When we were thinking about starting a label we knew we had to get Xiantoni to be one of our focuses. The first single we released for her was “Just Say You’re Wanted and Needed,” which is actually a cover of one of her mother’s tracks (the original 7” on Velgo just sold for about $5000 on Ebay). The A side of that record is a song that myself and Betsy Villa-Senor wrote together. It started as a Rocksteady song for a band I was in prior, but nothing ever came of it. We thought it would be perfect for Xiantoni’s vocals, so we just went with it and had her lay it down.
DDS: How did you get connected with all of these obscure Jamaican ska and reggae artists?
Mark: The contacts came while I started collecting records. I had gotten a hold of a few people that knew these guys. I was able to get a hold of guys like Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, and Roy Panton early in the game. I was trying to locate records and I would keep these guys phone numbers handy. It was as simple as me asking around to see if certain people were still around. When I’d go to England on record buying trips I’d be introduced to one guy who knew another guy and so on. It’s really cool to meet and talk to these golden age artists.
Wally: When we would have these artists come out, we always wanted to make sure that they were treated well. As a musician I know what it feels like to be treated poorly. As promoters, we started to develop a reputation for treating the artists in a manner where they felt respected. So what ended up happening was a lot of these musicians would start giving our number to other groups and singers that they were connected with. We’d have guys like Boris Gardner, Bob Andy, the late Lloyd Charmers giving us calls. Our name started to carry some weight with these older Jamaican guys.
DDS: And most of these artists are coming from Jamaica?
Mark: Well all over the world actually. When we did a reunion show of the Sound Dimension for example, Studio One’s house band of the late 60’s, these guys were literally scattered all over. Two were in Jamaica, one was in Canada, Miami, France, the East Coast, and up North. It was hard work but these shows were magical. It was stuff that LA had never seen and quite frankly never been witnessed by most around the world other than people who saw them in their heyday. This group had really been non-existent for the last forty-five years.
Wally: When we brought The Gaylads out, it was their first show since the 1960’s in Jamaica. Since then, they’ve been doing festivals in Europe and other places around the world. They also have an upcoming show in New York. They’ve released new music, and have even collaborated with contemporary R&B artists. We feel good about having a hand in revitalizing their careers. The same kind of story goes with Roy Panton, Yvonne Harrison and the Tennors. It’s just great to know that these folks are doing music again, especially since so many of these great Jamaican artists have been neglected for so long.
DDS: So what can we expect from ACR in 2014 and moving forward?
Wally: We planted this seed last year and we weren’t sure what to expect. We knew that we were getting the name out, and we knew people were interested. Right now we have product in at least twelve different countries, which we’re happy about for a small brand new label like us. Although the numbers might not be where we want, we know that our name is getting out there. This year we’re starting to see some real growth with loads of interest overseas.
Mark: We have a tour coming up this May where we will be hitting various spots along the west coast. We also have a ton of releases coming up on vinyl. There is lots of new music coming from Xiantoni. We have a 10” EP coming from Jackie Mendez and some releases from veteran reggae artists, The Tennors and Keith & Tex. We’ve got an album coming from our house band Thee Hurricanes and some other stuff we’re keeping under wraps for now. You can pretty much expect new releases from all of the artists on Angel City Records this year, so it is an exciting and busy time for us. Right now we’re just grateful that everything seems to be moving in the right direction for us.
This Sunday March 16th, 2014 is the 6 year anniversary of the Beat Swap Meet. It’s crazy how it’s been 6 years and compared to when we first started we never thought we would be at the level we are today. We are still growing which is the most exciting part. We have been blessed to have many talented djs, producers, and mc’s who we looked up to be a part of the event such as DJ Curse, Revolution, Swamp, Ras G, Fatlip, Adrian Younge, Jeremy Sole, Arabian Prince, Shafiq Husayn, Thes One, 2mex, etc. Now we can add one more to the list who will be making his Beat Swap Meet debut: Daedelus.[jwplayer mediaid="2473"]
If you are into beats then you know who Daedelus is. He will be spinning a DJ set as well as selling records from his personal collection. According to his profile on Dublab, Daedelus, “Is an experimental music producer based in Los Angeles, California. Daedelus pioneered using the Monome in conjunction with Max/MSP for live performances. He is a part of the groups Adventure Time and The Long Lost. He is currently signed to the Ninja Tune label but has released material with a number of labels, including: Plug Research, Mush, Laboratory Instinct, Eastern Developments, Phthalo, Merck, Big Dada, Soul Jazz, Distill, Hefty, Bit Of Heaven, Temporary Whatever, Stones Throw, Alpha Pup, Eat Concrete, Friends Of Friends, Brainfeeder and Warp. He is also a founding DJ at the internet radio station Dublab. He attended the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.”
So join us this Sunday for a beautiful day of music, art, dancing, culture, and all that jazz. Remember the event is also a food drive so be sure to bring a canned good to donate to those in need. If you’re curious to see what Daedelus is selling stop by the upstairs area of the Grand Star Jazz Club. He’ll also be closing out the event and spinning as well. For more information on Daedelus and to check out his latest tour dates and projects check out his website.
I’ve been collecting records for almost 15 years. Like most diggers when they first start, I wanted all my shit to be super dope original pressings. Reissues?!?! No way son. I like my records like I like my kush: OG. I avoided comps too for the longest time. Then Serato came out and ruined everything. Oh you have that super rare blah blah original pressing on wax?! Yeah I have that on my laptop and can now rock it in public too. And guess what?: I have instant doubles and don’t have to worry about wearing out the vinyl. Cool beans right? Like most diggers when they first start, I wasn’t really sure how to tell if something was original or a reissue. There are some obvious clues like super old records with an internet address on the back, some will say reissue, it’s not the original label, etc. Well now there’s a super easy way to find out whether or not your precious vinyl is an original pressing or reissue courtesy of our good friends and sponsor Discogs. Check out www.originalpressing.com
Above is a screen shot of the website, which is still in beta version. It’s pretty cool and really simple. Just type the reference number on the back of your vinyl and they’ll ask discogs about it. So there you have it kids, now you can find out if your super cool vinyl record is an original or an reissue. These days I still prefer to find original pressings, but will definitely buy a reissue if it’s something super rare or that I really want to play at a gig. Oh you have that on your laptop? Is that an original mp3?…
Benjamin Franklin once said there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Death is obviously inevitable. As far as taxes….not so much. Especially if you are a huge international multi-conglomerate corporation. General Electric, Verizon, News Corp, etc literally paid no taxes while taking in billions. It’s the American way. Not even Franklin could have imagined that. He also would have never imagined a black president. Okay now I’m off topic but yeah you get the point. We all are going to die one day. How do you want to be remembered when you pass? Are you going to be buried in the earth, are you going to be cremated? Well I read this article a while back and now there is another way for you to stay with your loved ones after you die: vinyl.
Yeah you read that right. Vinyl. Starting at £3000 ($4,970.10) you can have your ashes pressed into vinyl – 30 copies to be exact – for your friends and family to remember you with for eternity. Take that Serato! According to this article I read on pulseradio.net, “The folks over at London based www.andvinyly.com are offering their services to have you, a loved one or a pet transformed into a piece of music history. For an extra £500 ($828.35), you can have a custom artist design the record sleeve, and aside from choosing your favourite song to help loved ones remember you forever by, you can have custom made soundscapes and tracks created by bands and artists from The House of Fix. You can also use a track you created, record your own voice or lyrics (to be placed solo on the record or accompanied by eerie ambient noises), or for the minimalists out there, simply leave the record blank so only the pops and cracks play through. If you’re worried your loved ones might not be quite as keen on your idea as you are, they also offer body part services, so the majority of your remains can have a standard funeral, while an arm, leg or anywhere else can still be preserved in vinyl form, though prices aren’t any cheaper for that alternative. And, for an extra £10,000 ($16,567.00), you can have a FUNeral, where their crack team of experienced event organizers can toss you a full-fledged rave where (presumably) your freshly pressed wax will get rinsed in proper sendoff fashion.”
So there you have it folks. You love vinyl so much you can now have your ashes or certain body parts pressed on wax. Not creepy at all. Who wouldn’t want to play a record made up of your dead family member, homie, or pet. If your past loved one was a huge dubstep or trap fan now they can remind you of that even after they die. I would rather be haunted by a good old fashioned ghost instead of hearing that shit. I don’t know how they came up with this. It’s definitely unique, and super morbid. Maybe Goths will dig it. So what song would you want your ashes pressed on after you die?…
Professor Brian Oblivion’s bio states that he is, “A producer and DJ whose sample based, boom bap style is rooted in Golden Era hip hop while constantly exploring new treatments. Utilizing turntables, an MPC, and a diverse sound library ranging from soundtracks, funk, soul, jazz, psych rock, world music, and everything in between, he creates a rubric unparalleled.” That’s right: rubric.
I actually met Brian back in Sept. of 2012. I drove up to Oakland for the Beat Swap Meet and was literally in town for 5 minutes when my friend DJ Dirty Soap and I hit up a thrift store hoping to score some records. I actually found some okay stuff. I remember I found the single “Roses” by Haywoode there. So my friend and I take our records to the counter and strike up a conversation with the guy behind the counter. We mention we’re throwing the Beat Swap Meet since the guy was into records. That guy was Brian Oblivion. He actually went to the event. He gave me a copy of his album “The Dark Realities Of The Moment.” I listened to it and it was pretty good. Actually it was really good. Nice beats, production, samples, etc. and it was pretty socially and politically conscious, which I am all about. Good old fashioned hippity hop. Fast forward one year later and there he was again at the Beat Swap Meet in Berkeley this past Sept. Real cool dude.
He put out this single on Clock Wise records called “Hopscotch.” There is a bonus break on the A side as well. I highly recommend picking it up. Hopscotch is very dope hip hop instrumental with a heavy funk vibe and influence. It’s all about the drums. It reminds me of old school DJ Shadow and his fondness for the drums. Entropy, Holy Calamity, etc. It hits hard at 106 bpms. The drums are fierce, the horns are blaring, the organ is nice, etc. It’s a solid instrumental track. The bonus break is a stripped down version of “Hopscotch” with just the drums. If you rock doubles make sure to pick up 2 copies because you can get mad creative with it. The b-side is this slow jam called “Soul Drift.” It’s a hip hop slow song with a very nice 70′s sweet soul vibe. Baby making hip hop music. It reminds me of something that would be in a Prince Paul skit on Lovage. Chest Rockwell would love this shit. It’s got nice keys and trumpet samples. It’s dope.
Remember the name Professor Brian Oblivion because he is mad talented and will definitely be making waves in the future. His song “Feel the Funk” has been featured by the legendary Kenny Dope on his mixtape, “45 Friday Mix.” Yeah, Kenny Dope played his shit. If you are in the San Francisco area he has a monthly jazz happy hour at the Elbow Room, as well as multiple soul and funk nights at the Southside Spirit House.
TRIVIA: What was the b-side to the Professor Brian Oblivion’s first 45 release “Feel The Funk” (The Government Is Robbing Everybody Blind)”? The first one to leave a comment wins a free 45 copy of the single “HOPSCOTCH” b/w “SOUL DRIFT” by Professor Brian Oblivion.
by Jonathan Chan
You would think it was just another Sunday in LA, however at 943 N. Broadway the beats were blasting as much as they were bumping. That California sun was in Chinatown and the b-boys and b-girls were getting down. This was Beat Swap Meet LA’s 22nd edition, which had all the makings of a great day for the hip hop community. And yet, it’s not a Beat Swap Meet without some b-boys/girls. An integral part to the event, they bring to life the sounds and lyrics of the very songs they dance to. They are the embodiment of the music itself.
That being said, Fresh Air (the 2 vs. 2 and 7 to smoke break dance competition) was hype as usual. Starting around noon, b-boys/girls were warming-up in the cyphers. The circles were alive with locals representing LA and others coming from the IE, OC, and SD regions of California. DJ’s Abel, Dwenz, Lu-Man, Millhouse, Smoke1, and Tasko were responsible for playing some classic breaks, as well as some new beats that had the crowd moving.
The 2 vs. 2 competition showcased some incredible battles. The most exciting battle of the day had to be the Del Fuego crew taking on Concrete Jedis in the semifinals. B-boy Bebo from Del Fuego displayed his strength through controlled power moves and freeze combinations, while JayD of Concrete Jedis responded to Bebo’s rounds by executing with quick explosive moves. B-boys Jet Liem and Gilyon were not to be ignored either, exchanging a flow of movement masterfully accentuated by the music. Overall it was a battle to be remembered with Concrete Jedis moving onto the finals against Soul2Soul.
The 7 to smoke competition, for those that don’t know, operates within the same concept of King of the Hill. The first Bboy to reach 7 points wins. With some of the best talent invited for the 7 to smoke, it was sure to be nothing less than an all-out war. As the competition progressed, 3 Bboys tied for the most points after 10 minutes, and would battle each other in a 2nd round: Cre8 of Suicide Kings, Steez of Soul2Soul, and Nick Abat of Artistic Tribe. Cre8 moves with smooth transitions that are effortlessly in-sync with the rhythm. Steez freestyles with soul and a character unique unto himself. Nick Abat’s style brings attention to the smallest details and ends with a dynamic maneuver. In the end, Nick Abat would come to win out over all the invites.
As the jam came to a close, cyphers didn’t stop and the energy was as high as ever. Even with Open House starting their segment in the Beat Swap Meet schedule, b-boys/girls stuck around to vibe-out with house and other freestyle dancers. All in all it was a very successful event. Big shout-outs to Ace (Master Movements), Asia One (Mighty Zulu Queenz/B-boy Summit) Lil Rock (Killafornia) for judging both competitions, Artson (Style Elements) for emceeing, all the DJs for spinning, and the staff of Beat Swap Meet for organizing the event. It’s all about the people
Boogaloo. What does it mean? What comes to mind when you hear this word? The first thing I think of is Turbo aka Boogaloo Shrimp from the movies Breakin. The movie was god awful corny, but that broom dance was pretty tight. The ceiling dance not so much. I was 5 when I first saw it so the bar wasn’t set too high back then for me. According to the almighty Google boogaloo is “A modern dance to rock-and-roll music performed with swiveling and shuffling movements of the body, originally popular in the 1960s.” The definition according to the hip Urban Dictionary is, “Boogaloo is a certain dance when u swing ur shoulders up and down real quick!” Real quick y’all!!! Well Google had it more correct. And the Boogaloo Assassins are doing boogaloo proper.
I saw them a few years ago at the Continental Room. To be frank they were cool, but nothing to write home about. They kept doing shows. They were getting a good following. Fast forward to a few weeks ago at Funkmosphere and the homie and all around good guy Billy Goods was kind enough to give me a copy of their 45 of “No No No” and “Evil Ways”, as well as their debut EP “Old Love Dies Hard.” I went home, rolled a spliff, and gave it a listen. The first track I heard was the 45 version of the cover of the reggae classic “No No No” by Dawn Penn. Holy shit. It was tight. I listened to it 3 times in a row. Covers can be tricky, especially covers of other genre of music. They can’t all be awesome as Alien Ant Farm’s “Smooth Criminal.” Duh. I gave the EP a listen and was very impressed. It’s pretty solid boogaloo. As Larry David would say, “Pretty, Pretty, Pretty good!” No No No is my favorite song, and “Para Mi” is my second favorite. It’s got this classic latin rhythm and tempo. It’s nolstagic yet still current and fresh. They also do a great cover of Joe Bataan’ classic “Magic Rose” Its spot on. The amazing thing is this song was record live on KPFK 90.7 in Los Angeles.
On the EP in the back there is a review by Oliver Wang that says, “I was floored that a Los Angeles group hadn’t just nailed the sound of boogaloo but also embodied its mixed heritages. The Assassins span not only the diversity of multiracial LA, but music traditions too be it cumbia, ska, jazz, and of course, soul.” If you don’t know who Oliver Wang is you need to do your homework. This not only is amazing compliment, but absolutely spot on. I was going to write the exact same thing, but Oliver Wang beat me to it. Damn. This debut EP is a great throwback to that classic sound. I can’t wait for an entire album. 2013 has been an incredible year for new music, which I am never big on. New? It must suck right. Nope. There are some good bands and songs out there doing the music justice, and the Boogaloo Assassins are definitely one of them. Solid debut, and you should check it out. To find out more about the Boogaloo Assassins tour dates, and to purchase their music check out their website. If you going to be in the Los Angeles area on Dec 15th they are performing live at the Beat Swap Meet.
Tea Party favorite and all around insane in the membrane Michelle Bachman recently said we are living in the end times. After seeing a video of this new product called EZ Pro DJ I pretty much have to agree with her. I’ve bitched time and time again how everybody now thinks being a DJ is super cool and easy. Anybody can do it right? What’s the big deal? You’re just playing other peoples songs right?! The true heads know what I’m talking about. I’ve bitched about Serato, digitial djing, etc. At least Serato has fake vinyl aka control records. I hate going into a place where there is a DJ playing music, and THERE ARE NO TURNTABLES. It drives me crazy. So recently I saw this clip on this page on Facebook called DJ Fails. If you are not familiar with this page and are a true DJ I highly suggest you check it out. I don’t know where they find some of these clips but some are so unbelievably wack they are almost brilliant. You can’t make this stuff up. There are some wack ass delusional fools out there. Straight up. So what is the EZ Pro DJ?
It’s pretty much a kids toy. You know what I had when I was a kid? A portable record player. Not this crap. According to a write up in the NY Times, “For anyone who has dreamed of being a D.J., Jakks Pacific makes it easy, even if you don’t have a turntable or records. The EZ Pro DJ mixer from Jakks Pacific combines two turntables and a sound board in one gadget that connects to an iOS or Android device. Through a free mobile app, the mixer syncs with the music stored on the device. You can assign a song to each turntable and then use the crossfader to blend them together. Once you get a feel for matching beats (the app can find the beats per minute for each song), you can add studio effects like echo. You can also create loops, add samples and even scratch. The mixer has an input for headphones, allowing you to cue up one song while another one plays. When you’re satisfied with your new sound, you can play it live or record it and save it to a playlist. For all its features, the mixer is remarkably easy to use. After playing around for about 30 minutes, I was able to create a decent mash-up of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and Sam Taylor-Wood’s cover of “I’m in Love With a German Film Star.” I got a real kick out of blending seemingly disparate songs.”
The name of the article was “Mix Music Like a Master.” Great job NY Times! Who wrote this article Judith Miller?!?! That joke is hilarious if you’re into politics. So there you have it kids! You can be a DJ master in a few minutes. You don’t need rhythm, passion for music, practice, or a good ear. Just plug in start rocking the shit out of crowds!! You have to see the YouTube clip which I’ll include below. If it was satirical it would be brilliant. It’s not though. It’s serious. I’m not even going to describe it so you can see for yourself. Be warned: You CANNOT unsee it though. Some people will say, “Calm down son, it’s just a freakin toy.” True, but that’s not the point. It’s another attempt to bastardize the craft of Djing and is making the kids dumber and less appreciative of real beats and music. I’m going to get off my soapbox now and play a record. A vinyl record.
Have you heard the news? Vinyl is back son. BIG TIME. As a record nerd and vinyl purist this is great news to me. I was born in 1979. Before the cd, mp3, internet, iphone, ipad, and whole i-pocalypse. My parents collected records. Vinyl was always being played in the house. I remember my dad always bumping artists like Kool and the Gang, Midnight Star, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Gap Band, Rick James, etc. He was into funk, boogie, and disco. A lot of shitty disco. My mom was more into soul and was always bumping oldies. After years of begging she recently finally gave me her 45 collection. It’s ridiculous. When I moved out I pretty much took their record collection. The best record in the collection was the blaxploitation soundtrack “Savage” by Don Julian. It’s one of the hardest funk albums ever. It’s so hard the legendary DJ Muro from Japan named his record store after it.
I remember the day my dad brought home a cd player. I had no idea what it was. He said it played music. I asked if it played records or cassettes and he said it played cds. “What the heck is a CD?” I asked. He said it’s like a smaller version of records. The year was 1991. He then realized we did not own any cds so we went to the Wherehouse to get some. He said my brother and I could pick out ANY CD we wanted. I bought Digital Undergrounds “This is an EP Release”. My brother brought Vanilla Ice. Even back then I was a hip hop snob and clowned him for buying that corny shit. I never really got into CDs though and kept collecting cassettes. The first record I ever bought with my own money was Freestyle Fellowship’s Innercity Griots. Since then I never looked back. I’m a digger. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. It’s addicting. I have to dig. If I pass by a yard sale, garage sale, thrift store, antique store, etc. I have to check if they have records. I don’t have serato. I’m a vinyl junkie. I remember when Serato was really blowing up records stores were closing down left and right. It really sucked when Aron’s closed. They say everything old is new again and here we are in 2013 where you can now buy vinyl at Whole Foods and record players at Nordstrom.
According to an article I read in the NY Times, “About a dozen pressing plants have sprouted up in the United States, along with the few that survived from the first vinyl era, and they say business is so brisk that they are working to capacity. These days, every major label and many smaller ones are releasing vinyl, and most major new releases have a vinyl version, leading to a spate of new pressing plants. When the French electronica duo Daft Punk released “Random Access Memories” in mid-May, 6 percent of its first-week sales — 19,000 out of 339,000 — were on vinyl, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which measures music sales.”
According to another article I read on thinklikealabel.com, “In case there was any doubt in your mind, vinyl is officially back. The week of April 21, 244,000 LPs were sold. Not downloads, not streams, not even CDs. Good ol’ fashioned records, artwork, and all. Vinyl album sales in 2012 were at their highest since 1997, having closed the year at $177 million (approx. ￡115 million) according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI. As for the United States; according the Nielsen Soundscan, 4.6 million LPs were sold in the States last year.”
So there you have it. Vinyl is back, although to some people it never left. There are record shows everywhere popping up in Los Angeles and Orange County at some bar or other location. Cassettes are also back big time, but that’s a whole different article. The true diggers will always keep digging. True b-boys/girls will always be breaking. True graff artists will always be bombing. True mcs will always keep rhyming. There is a whole new generation of kids now being introduced to vinyl, and I love that. It’s tangible. You can hold it in your hands, feel the grooves, appreciate the art work, etc. You can’t do that with an mp3. There are always bubbles and this vinyl renaissance may burst in the future again, but once a vinyl junkie always a junkie.
What’s your first record, favorite record store past or present, or memorable digging experience? Let us know below in the comments!