So this week’s House Hunting is an import 12” as it’s comin’ straight outta Brooklyn with a crate crusade in NYC! Amongst all the tourist travails in Manhattan and Tonya wanting to sample some serious cocktail couture you knew despite it being her birthday I was gonna be the model partner and kill her with a load of wax haunt jaunts… Turns out NYC is a goldmine of second-hand stores with a treasure trove of house jewels waiting to be unearthed at bargain basement prices... Read on for my House Hunting guide to NYC – quick take me back for some rack raiding reminiscing!
439 E 6th St, East Village, NY 10009
Before jettin’ off to the Big Apple the one NY record joint EVERYONE recommended in checking out was A-1 Records so naturally this was one of the first shops added to the House Hunting itinerary. Having outgrown life as a merchant on the Chelsea flea-market, A-1 founder Isaac Kaufman found a permanent home back in ’96 on the lower east-side, evolving into an East Village institution with a serious selection of hip-hop, disco, boogie, house and techno – curated by prime purveyors including L.I.E.S. label head Ron Morelli who has been instrumental in expanding the choice house crates. Check out this lil’ doc to get a feel of the A-1 in-store experience.
Anyway, after a typically manic day in Manhattan where we just about survived the commercial cauldron of 5th Avenue we had a waltz around Central Park and decided to jet to the lower east side to sample a slice of that pastrami paradise at legendary NY diner Katz’s – jam-hectic but so worth it… After that we went all a bit bourgeoisie checkin’ out the New Museum but couldn’t hack that avant garde assemble for long so took a jaunt north to the East Village for a caffeine fix. Turns out we were only a few blocks from A-1 so used my powers of persuasion with Tonya saying “I won’t be long” – ha ain’t she heard that before! Upon entering the shop was a hive of activity with an armada of diggers getting’ some proper deep dusty fingers… The house racks had a superior selection – consisting of the usual legendary labels like Trax, Strictly Rhythm, Nu Groove etc but also choice NY imprints such as Easy Street, Henry Street, Jump Street (anything with ‘Street’ in it right yeah?!) so it was time for some serious rack raiding… Coincidentally in the last House Hunting I copped a Jump Street 12” and on flicking through this rack I pulled out the classic Jump Street joint ‘Why?’ by Bipo aka Grammy-award winning producer Gordon Williams on a house tip with David Almodovar. A bit steep at 10 dollars as you can cop these for a few quid but considering shrink intact on the cover (you know how much I love that s**t!) and the record practically mint it had to be done…
Tonya pulled up a chair so I knew her havin’ a seat would bide some time so I continued to flick furiously through the racks… Next I unearthed the Easy Street 12” ‘Love Of Life’ by Yohan Square aka Eddie Perez and Roderick Goode of Smack and Mental Instrum fame. This is one of Tonya’s fave old-school house joints so when I showed it her it brought some elation and bought me more time – not bad at 15 dollars but Jesus the prices have gone skywards with this 12” has a hip DJ dropped it on an RA mix or Boiler Room? Tonya was tiring as it had been a long day so I just quickly scanned the ‘New Arrivals’ section and scoped a sleeve that screamed ‘CHICAGO’ – no it wasn’t a Trax sleeve but a Hot Mix 5 Records sleeve (in shrink!) and even better it was an original pressing of Xavier Gold’s Chicago House anthem ‘You Used To Hold Me’ produced by Hot Mix 5 alumni Ralphi Rosario. Again in mint condition so didn’t mind rinsing 20 dollars on this one – which turned out to be the most expensive record on my NYC diggin’ expedition. Anyway, a short but sweet house haul – definitely recommend A-1 if you’re in town just make sure you allocate yourself hours not minutes there…
BIPO – ‘WHY?’ (JUMP STREET RECORDS) – $10
YOHAN SQUARE – ‘LOVE OF LIFE’ (EASY STREET RECORDS) – $15
RALPHI ROSARIO FEATURING XAVIER GOLD – ‘YOU USED TO HOLD ME’ (HOT MIX 5 RECORDS) – $20
TOTAL – $45
85 Oak St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Back in Feb when I jetted north of the border to play for the Jelly Roll Soul posse they along with one of their dancefloor regulars Stevie recommended I get in touch with a guy called Ron Like Hell who worked at the Academy Record Annex in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – the neighbourhood we were gonna stay in. Turns out Ron co-runs the infamous NYC party WRECKED who have hosted a load of superior selectors such as Tim Sweeney, Mike Servito, Jason Kendig and London’s very own Dan Beaumont plus presents at the Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy curated ‘Classic Album Sundays’ monthly event. His years working at choice NY record joints such as A-1, The Thing and Satellite Records has seen him build up an enviable record collection which you can delve into via a load of his killer mixes here.
Anyway, I hit him up and he said I should check out Academy Record Annex where he worked. Turned out this joint was just the next block from where we were staying in Greenpoint so after jetted to some uber organic supermarket on Manhattan Avenue (whenever we go abroad Tonya’s first priority is always checking out the local supermarché proper foreign education video scenes) I took a quick jaunt to Academy to check out their emporium. Upon entering I was surprised how big it was (it’s the largest record store in Greenpoint) with a massive selection encompassing an array of genres both new and second-hand. I had a waltz around the store and I scoped on the display racks Larry Heard’s ‘Classic Fingers’ triple-vinyl LP on La Casa plus ‘I Can’t Do It Alone’ by TC Crew aka Tyree Cooper on Chicago House institution DJ International. Both were on the higher end of the price spectrum (the Larry Heard LP $60 and the TC Crew 12” $40) but gave me hope that I’d unearth a hallowed house 12” deep in the racks…
The racks were alphabetically arranged so as ever methodically started at ‘A’ and got down to it… I was furiously flicking through and things started to look a lil’ desperate when I got to ‘T’ and still hadn’t found anything however a distinctive red sleeve gave me hope… On inspecting more closely it was a Profile sleeve and yeah finally a decent copy of ‘Drink On Me’ by Teulé aka Kerri Chandler. Now I’ve already got this track via Kerri’s ‘Super Lover’ EP on Express (a Discogs speculator special now so lucky if you cop one for under £100 Jesus…) but I been after the Profile pressing as it has the ace ‘After The Rave’ mix which in contrast to the soul-drenched original this one a heavier workout with its ominous bass and rave bleeps – proper basement belter… Anyway, though I’ve seen these for a few quid they’re always f**ked so though 10 dollars a bit over the odds can’t complain as in near mint condition complete with shrink (torn but can live with that…) and promo sticker. I didn’t find anything else but super-happy finding this killer Kerri jam. Was gonna hook up with Ronnie but he had to make an impromptu road trip and trek to South Carolina to pick up a record collection so if you see him when you’re in town give him a House Hunting high-five from me yo!
ACADEMY RECORDS RECEIPT
TEULE – ‘DRINK ON ME’ (PROFILE RECORDS) – $10
TOTAL – $10
87 Guernsey Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Co-Op 87 Records & Tapes was another Greenpoint joint on the House Hunting hit list and I came across it as it was only a few doors down from a vintage shop that Tonya wanted to check out – Beacon’s Closet which has the most HOUSE gear I’ve seen in years all for $20-$30 dollars a pop not like the over-priced s**t in London. Seems like most guys in Greenpoint like me in need of a few Greggs pasties as all the clobber I liked typically size large and above so I left Tonya to a TK Maxx trawl through the vintage rails and I popped to Co-Op 87 for some rack raiding recreation…
Though only a bijou lil’ store Co-Op 87 has got a serious selection with a decent amount of house in the crates. Within the first few records I flicked through I pulled out a mint copy of ‘Tonight (Love Will Make It Right)’ by Hanson & Davis for just $3 complete with shrink and promo sticker intact (help me now…) . If you ain’t heard this then it’s a killer proto-house joint with Timmy Regisford on the edit and it’s a proper NEW YORK RECORD – all about the Dub check it out here and it being dropped live in Moss Side back in ’86.
This was a good sign and I quickly scored two Chicago House holy grails in quick succession… First up was Farley “Jackmaster” Funk & Jesse Saunders’ ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’ featuring the hollerin’ house diva Darryl Pandy (may the big man Rest In Paradise…) which was the original red text on white label pressing on Farley’s ‘House Records’ imprint. Again in mint condition complete with shrink and original red sleeve so at five dollars that was a done deal… Next was the Clubhouse classic ‘Nu Nu’ by Lidell Townsell and this was a bargain three dollars so had to be copped (I later saw at A-1 for 10 dollars so the Co-Op deal a steal). Let’s watch (both these joints got well HOUSE videos!) and listen here…
We didn’t have to be at the airport until the evening when we jetted back so Tonya wanted to make a last-minute raid at her vintage vault Beacon’s Closet again so an excuse to check out Co-Op 87 for some last-minute House Hunting. This time I pulled out ‘I Like It’ by Libra Libra aka Jimi Polo and Tony Bowie on Mitchbal offshoot Chicago Connection Records complete with mixes by Chicago forefather Vince Lawrence and Gherkin Godfather Brett Wilcots – in original sleeve for just a three dollar bill y’all! House just the way I like it… So f**k me all the records I copped from there cheaper than some hand-stamped ‘LTD to 300 copies’ promo pressure – it ain’t HYPE HAUS IT’S HOT HOUSE! So if you fancy some mint house flavour at bargain basement prices then make sure you check in to Co-Op when on your NY crate crusade…
CO-OP 87 RECORDS & TAPES RECEIPT
HANSON & DAVIS – ‘TONIGHT (LOVE WILL MAKE IT RIGHT)’ (FRESH RECORDS) – $3
LIBRA LIBRA – ‘I LIKE IT’ (CHICAGO CONNECTION RECORDS) – $3
LIDELL TOWNSELL – ‘NU NU’ (CLUBHOUSE RECORDS) – $3
FARLEY “JACKMASTER” FUNK & JESSE SAUNDERS – ‘LOVE CAN’T TURN AROUND’ (HOUSE RECORDS) – $5
TOTAL – $14
21 Lawton Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Though probably the least known record joint on this list, Northern Lights Records is the hidden jewel amongst the crown of NYC’s vinyl emporia. The only reason why I know about this shop is that a dependable source of rare and collectable house records that I buy off online has opened a bricks and mortar store late last year so had to check it out… Coincidentally the night before we were in the environ of Northern Lights in Bushwick as we sampled a bit of real NY nightlife at the JACK DEPT. night at the Bossa Nova Civic Club on Myrtle Avenue – shout to Mike Servito and all the Brooklyn bitches! Anyway after a heavy night of jackin’ and too many Club Mate and tequilas the next day we were on lockdown but by afternoon cabin fever was kickin’ in so I decided to jet to Bushwick to check out Northern Lights Records.
Nestled in the heart of bustlin’ Bushwick, I said it was a hidden jewel but Jesus took me about an hour to find this joint! I did the cardinal sin of not charging my iPhone before I jetted out so as my battery died I couldn’t reference a map so all I had was the name of the road (‘Lawton Street’) that the shop was on. So I’m walking around the hustle’n’bustle of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue thinking “where the f**k is this shop?!” – asking my Latino brothers (the area has a large Puerto Rican community) if they could point me in the right direction was a non-starter as they all just start speaking to me in Spanish and try and sell me s**t (I was offered a sofa and a dog, Christ...). The very few who spoke English kept saying ‘yeah a few blocks that way’ or ‘the next block’ – man I don’t want a block I want a STREET! Thankfully I bumped into a Brooklyn Postman who pointed me in the right direction – had I not met him I could have been aimlessly walkin’ around for hours…
So on finally finding it I could remedy my wax withdrawal and get raiding those racks… There’s no house section per se – instead all the house, techno, disco & boogie are housed together alphabetically in the racks so you don’t know what house gems you’re gonna unearth. On flicking through I knew I was immediately in House Hunting heaven as when I got to ‘C’ this was littered with a load of Chip E. records so was eager to see what else I’d find on diggin’ deeper… I got Trax tremors as every rack was rammed with a load of Trax records – in fact the most I’d ever seen I was droolin’ and in a state of deep delirium… Not just content with finding a load of killer records that were pure House Hunting quota, the prices were just ridiculous like both Jungle Wonz ‘The Jungle’ and ‘Time Marches On’ seven dollars?! Anyway I took my stack to listen to – typically with a load of the Trax pressings they were beat up and a load of the Chicago records sounded like s**t but thankfully the coveted Virgo EP on Trax sounded fine so at seven dollars even cheaper than the repress! In original Chicago Trax sleeve with shrink intact too – you don’t see that everyday… On listening on my home turntable turns out the ‘My Space’ track distorted but at seven dollars can’t complain – all about R U HOT ENOUGH anyway a typical mercurial Marshall Jefferson production…
With my fail in orienteering in Bushwick Tonya was probably thinking where the hell I was so I copped the Virgo and promised myself to check in again before I jetted back home… A few days later and I made a quick detour when comin’ back from Manahattan – at least this time I’ll have a bit more time to have a deep dose of diggin’ as I now knew where the shop was! Second time around and this time I unearthed some proper Chicago House Holy Grails – Sweet D’s ‘Thank Ya’ (five dollars AY?!?!), Virgo’s ‘Go Wild Rhythm Trax’ (seven dollars WHAT?!?!) and ‘Donnie’ by The It (again seven dollars WTF?!?!). All these were original pressings standard – still couldn’t believe my eyes you’d easily pay at least £20-£30 each for these if in a London record shop. Also copped Vince Lawrence’s ‘Virgo Tracks Again’ EP and added another Gherkin to the jar with ‘Don’t Go’ by Dezz. If I had my own record shop I would have been on a serious buying trip here – weight restriction with luggage meant I couldn’t go too mental especially as I was bringing back a collection for Zaf @ Love Vinyl from NYC but super-happy with this hot house haul. Still couldn’t believe my ears when he totalled up the price – even threw in a three dollar discount without a House Hunting haggle! So if you’re in the neighbourhood definitely jot down Northern Light Records on the itinerary and jet down there – even if house ain’t your thing they’ve got all bases covered and massive selection of 45’s too. Keep an eye on their eBay page as they regularly auction a load of hallowed house records amongst other genres. Anyway here’s some of my finds…
NORTHERN LIGHTS RECORDS RECEIPT
DEZZ – ‘DON’T GO’ (GHERKIN RECORDS) – $5
SWEET D – ‘THANK YA’ (TRAX RECORDS) – $5
VINCENT LAWRENCE – ‘VIRGO TRACKS AGAIN’ (TRAX RECORDS) – $6
VIRGO – ‘FREE YOURSELF’ (TRAX RECORDS) – $7 VIRGO – ‘GO WILD RYTHM TRAX’ (OTHER SIDE RECORDS) – $7
THE IT – ‘DONNIE’ (DJ INTERNATIONAL RECORDS) – $7
DISCOUNT – $3
TOTAL – $34
1001 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY 11222
So completing the Greenpoint triptych is Manhattan Avenue’s mythical diggers paradise The Thing. Though it’s a haphazard heap of clothing, furniture, antiques, CD’s and DVD’s, when you navigate through that flea market maze it’s all about descending the narrow stairs to the vinyl vaults of The Thing… Even prior to goin’ down the basement there were records overflowing at the tops of the stairs – do I check these out?! There were a few heads diggin’ so thought I’d take the plunge to the deep depths of the basement…
Now you’ve probably seen the pics and videos but nothing prepares you for the hallowed turf of that deep’n’dank basement. The endless aisles and cascading crates house well over 100,000 thousands records – an overwhelming labyrinthine wax maze that will get any rack raider’s record radar on sensory overdrive… Naturally, the first question is: “Where the f**k do you start?” so I took a deep breath and got deep in the zone… The term ‘dusty fingers’ is never more apt than this basement – me and Tonya (House Hunting Helper duties!) got down on our knees and got down to a deep dose of diggin’ and dusty fingers… I started at the infinite end of the aisle and as ever worked my way methodically towards the front. Within the first 10 minutes I already had picked out a Dance Mania 12” (The Lincoln Boys’ ‘Check It Out’) and though ash-strewn and battered gave me some house hope… On diggin’ deeper I kept pulling out Strictly Rhythm records but typically the George Morel EP’s that no-one wants and the amount of records on Profile and Next Plateau Records Inc. you could open a shop with them alone serious!
Anyway, after an hour I dropped Tonya off back at the apartment and I returned determined to find something… I changed tact and went to the other side of the basement and this proved a wise move as within a minute I found the sought-after ‘The Voyage’ EP by Hayden Andre Brown and Marcus Turcotte on the legendary Strobe Records outta Toronto – result! A lush house soundscape in the vein of Larry Heard, listen and melt away here…
This find gave me some renewed vinyl vigour but alas after spending an entire afternoon down there I could only find records I already got like the ‘Burrell’ LP by the Burrell Brothers and the Hi-Bias anthem ‘Get Into The Music’ on the Serious EP by DJ’s Rule aka Nick Anthony Fiorucci and Michael Ova. However, what was encouraging to see when on my crate diggin’ exploits were the proportion of female diggers down there – more girls than guys when I was down there ace! A Dad brought his daughter down there, stating “Well, this is it the moment you’ve been waiting for!” with the daughter in question excitedly exclaiming that this was “the best day in her life!” Cue five minutes later and Dad ain’t in such a sunny mood now: “C’mon let’s get outta here, it’s cost me f**kin’ fifty bucks to get a taxi out here, we’ve flown to New York and all you wanna do is look at records that all sound the same?! You can f**kin’ do that back in Pittsburgh!” Some parents eh…
Tonya came back to meet me (she said she just saw a dad and daughter goin’ mad at each other on the street over records – what a vinyl love affair does to the best of us…) and pull me out of that house hunting haze – was diagnosed with a proper dose of digger’s daze! Anyway took my find to the counter and the guy just wanted two dollars mental. Though it doesn’t substitute the experience itself, if you’re on this side of the Atlantic the closet you’ll get is this video of employee William Burnett (aka W.T. Records boss and L.I.E.S. affiliate Willie Burns) giving you an insight to The Thing…
Sticking with Willie and be sure to check him out on Boiler Room’s ‘Collection’ series where no doubt he’ll chat about The Thing. Will be broadcast TODAY at 4pm (UK time) – perfect timing straight after the Thunder show on NTS with Andres joining Thunder rezzies Miles and Joseph plus my day off so I’ll be LOCKED IN! Anyway, if you’re jettin’ to NYC see anytime soon be sure to save at least an afternoon (call it a day) and take a jaunt to The Thing armed with gloves, mask and not your Sunday best clothing…
THE THING RECEIPT
HAYDEN ANDRE PRESENTS SUBCULTURE FEAT. MARCUS – ‘THE VOYAGE’ (STROBE RECORDS) – $2
TOTAL – $2
So that concludes my crate crusade in NYC – so let’s tot up how much I rinsed:
NYC RECEIPT TOTAL
A-1 RECORDS – $45
ACADEMY RECORDS ANNEX – $10
CO-OP 87 RECORDS & TAPES – $14
NORTHERN LIGHTS RECORDS – $34
THE THING – $2
TOTAL – $105
So with the exchange rate being approx. $1.5 to every £1 what’s that about £70 for all those records? Ridiculous… All I can say NYC is a pure House Hunting hotspot! I’ll leave you with this killer Junk Shop Mix that was concocted by Phil Passera aka Payfone of Golf Channel fame exclusively for the Ransom Note – all two dollar records unearthed at The Thing! After jettin’ back to the UK I popped into the Shoreditch branch of Flashback Records via a visit to R$N HQ and couldn’t believe my eyes when I scoped a copy of Sha-Lor’s ‘I’m In Love’ for £34.99 YOU F**KIN’ WHAT?!?! No harder dose of reality than that – seriously what is it with some shops goin’ speculator happy I think I’m gonna start calling out record shops charging ridiculous prices so watch out for that! NY take me back…
HOUSE HUNTING HERALD
So tomorrow is Record Store Day and no doubt if you’re in London Town it’ll be one big street party whether you have a Soho soiree at Phonica (Thunder afters with Detroit Don Andres in the house!) and Sounds Of The Universe or head east to check out Kristina and Love Vinyl. However, don’t forget some shops are keeping it real and just selling records – the Peckham trinity of Rye Wax, Yam Records and Do!! You!!! are holding an ‘anti-RSD’ celebrating the art of diggin’ and local talent as opposed to star DJ’s that will ram the shop meaning you can’t cop any records. The irony…
Anyway, if you regularly tune in to House Hunting you may recall the E.S.P. edition where I discovered a new shop that had opened just a few doors down from my flat and I scored this Chicago classic. Since then business has been goin’ well for my main man David at ‘The Little Record Shop’ – his Aladdin’s cave of wax jewels bringin’ in all the discernible dealers and cats from as far away as Japan so you know he’s got a serious selection… Not forgetting the foundations in what selling records is all about, for RSD David is gonna have a 20% discount sale on ALL his records at The Little Record Shop! On a house tip I scoped some Emotive and Strictly Rhythm records there last week but the real gems lie in his choice Rock, Reggae and Hip-Hop collections. So don’t forget to support the little man and your local record shop on RSD – I’ll be there House Hunting deep in the depths…
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