Monday, 23 June 2014

With Music Comes Stories: The Secret Spot

On a recent Saturday morning, my DJ partner and good friend, Stewart, and I went on a record dig to an old-timey (and self-proclaimed) ‘amusement company’, located somewhere deep in the heart of Texas – or, within a few hours drive from our hometown, Houston. (Excuse the vagueness, as I’m keeping said spot hush-hush – record fiends know the deal!)

Stewart had come here before, and I’d heard of it but was never able to track it down. Stories of rooms filled with stock 45s had caught my attention – “excited” to finally make the trip didn’t quite capture my eagerness. Some hours-long drive later, accompanied by plenty of strawberry-filled kolaches (a uniquely Texas-via-Czech breakfast pastry) we finally arrive, to a place seemingly untouched by the twenty-first century – my kind of joint! Among a heap of gutted, busted, and dusted Wurlitzer-brand jukeboxes and mid-century radios, the stock room contains wall-to-wall 45s, conveniently categorized and alphabetized for the digger’s pleasure. Truly a sight to see. Portable record players in hand, we plunge!

It was a great day of dusty soul singles and fantastic bargains. We’ll definitely be making our way back again, as there was far too much soul on wax for one days’ dig. (Not pictured is another room of bargains 45s where I pulled every Impressions/Curtis Mayfield 45 that I didn’t have yet, among other soulful treasures.) You can catch these favourites below and more at our monthly soul party – A Fistful Of Soul – every third Friday in Houston, Texas.

1. Jackie Hunt – Since You’ve Been Gone b/w Security Of Love (Jetstream, 1963/4?)
Groovy party R&B from my hometown, Houston, Texas! One more notch on completing the Jetsream label discography. Glad to finally track a clean copy. Nice moody soul ballad on the flip makes this a fantastic Texas two-sider. 

2. The Third Guitar – Sad Girl b/w Lovin’ Lies (Rojac, 1968)
Scorching psychedelic soul from Harlem, New York via Miami, Florida – popular on the northern soul scene. 

3. The Boys In The Band – Sumpin’ Heavy b/w The Boys In The Band (Spring, 1970)
Funky-ass instrumental funk! I don’t pick up deep funk 45s as much I used to (nor do I play ‘em out as much), but this here single is a bonafide funk stunner. Highly recommended for the drum heads. (Cheap on eBay, too.)

4. The Icemen – How Can I Get Over A Fox Like You b/w Loogaboo (ABC, 1968)
Exquisite low rider-inspired soul from this relatively obscure duo. The Icemen are best known (in some circles, anyways) for their earlier Shamar label 45, which featured a pre-LSD, Curtis Knight-era Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Haven’t met an Icemen single I didn’t wanna scoop – they’re all pretty damn good. File this little 7” gem under: “Baby-Makin’ Soul.”

5. Willie Hutch – Brother’s Gonna Work It Out b/w I Choose You (Motown, 1973)
Minted up on this smokin’ early-seventies soul 45 – with sides culled from 1973’s The Mack OST – from this storied soul legend. Not a pricey one, but definitely essential. ‘I Choose You’ goes over well as an end-of-the-night closer at A Fistful of Soul, popularly recognized as the primary sample/melody source for ‘International Player’s Anthem (I Choose You)’ – the 2007 hit single from Houston rap legends, UGK. 

Written by Alex LaRotta, who did his Masters Thesis on South/Central Texas Soul. For real.

(* excerpt taken from Issue #4 of the Soultearoa Shakedown fanzine. Read the whole issue - and the back issues - right here.) 

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