All this week I’m taking a look back at 2013, beginning with a look at the top 5 vinyl records I dug up in 2013. Truth be told, about the only positive thing in 2013 was tracking down a whole lot of nice records, online, at record swaps and stores. This might have been the most records I’ve bought in a calendar year in a while, but even with three straight strong years of digging, it’s clear I’ll never have as many records as I used to. I’m totally cool with that. This year I spent a fair amount of time buying quality records, that I either used to own or that I’ve always wanted. As with previous years, this list only includes records I tracked down in physical locations, and not any of the records I bought online. As always I’d love to hear what vinyl you tracked down in 2013. Here are my top 5 finds for the past year.
***Honorable mentions: Max Park – Al Tocar Diana [Atomic Records, Burbank], Shogun Assassin: Original Soundtrack [Amoeba Music, Hollywood], V/A – O Primeiro Amor: Original Soundtrack [Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown], Ray Barretto – Acid [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park], The Latinaires – Camel Walk [Pasadena Record Swap, Pasadena]
5. Linda Jones – Hypnotized – Loma [Amoeba Music, Hollywood]
Linda Jones – The Things I’ve Been Through (Loving You)
Linda Jones’ “Hypnotized” is an all-timer for me, and for almost a year I’ve been staring at this record, far up on the wall of Atomic records, and thinking to myself, “I really need to get that record.” The record was so high up the wall that I couldn’t even see the price, but generally nothing gets on the wall at Atomic unless it’s $25 or more. Most times I’d be there I just didn’t have the money. On those instances where I had it, and I would think to myself, “today’s the day, I’m getting that Linda Jones record,” I’d get there and there would be something that was even rarer that I couldn’t say no to. Sometime in December while I was looking for a Yusef Lateef album just after his passing, I happened upon this copy at Amoeba, for an imminently affordable price of $9. I know lots of DJs who refuse to buy records that are priced over $10, because they believe that eventually they’ll track down a copy for less. I don’t dig enough to subscribe to that mentality (mine is more, “if I have the money, I’m getting that record now), but it is always nice to have it happen nonetheless.
4. Mongo Santamaria – Live At Yankee Stadium – Vaya [Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown]
Mongo Santamaria – Coyulde
The December Beat Swap Meet was one of the only ones I’ve been able to spend quality time at. Generally the BSM is on Sundays which is when I do my radio show at KPFK. If I’m able to go, it’s often for only an hour or so before I have to leave to go to the station. This one happened to be on a day where I didn’t have my show and so I was able to dig and dig and dig through almost all of the vendors, right up until closing time. I found this one almost literally at the end of the event, with a number of other vendors packing up and the dealer talking about leaving after I was done. I’d been looking for this particular Mongo Santamaria record ever since I’d heard Matthew Africa play it on his radio show, recognizing it immediately as a track used on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s sequel to Brain Freeze, Product Placement. Pretty much everytime I’d start buzzing through Mongo records at a spot, I’d hope that it would be there, but it never happened. I actually was thinking to myself as I looked through this final box of records, “Damn you Matthew Africa, I’m never gonna find that record,” and not three records later, there it was, as if Matthew and the record Gods decided I’d been through enough. Aside from “Coyulde” this is a really boss record from Mongo, heavy and funky through and through. Well worth the wait tracking this down.
3. J.J. Julian – 100 Lbs. Of Pain (In My Heart) – Eleventh Hour [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park]
J.J. Julian – 100 Pounds Of Pain (In My Heart)
I first heard this in a guest DJ set from Cultures Of Soul head honcho Deano Sounds. There were plenty of choice cuts in the set, but this one in particular stood out to me, with those hard, driving, tough as nails horns and the fuzzy guitars. Deano mentioned that he had found it at what used to be his favorite store in NYC, Gimme Gimme Records, which relocated to Highland Park in the last year. It didn’t even occur to me at the time to immediately go to the store and see if there were more copies. Maybe a month later I was able to go to the store, located the meager collection of 45s that were there (which I hadn’t even noticed on the 3 or 4 trips I’d made there before) and maybe 4 or 5 records into the box, there it was all sitting pretty and just waiting for me. There are so many times where I feel like I’ve missed records. Where I walk into a store and some Japanese collector has a stack of 60 records at the register or some random dude walks in just after me and goes to the section I was going to next and pulls a super rare record that I’ve desired for ever. It’s a much nicer feeling when you run into a record exactly where it should be, even though you didn’t expect it to be there.
2. Gabor Szabo – Dreams – Skye [Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown]
Gabor Szabo – Song Of Injured Love
On a personal level this was probably the most satisfying buy of the year. As I mentioned previously, of all the records I sold back in 2004, this might be the one that’s haunted my dreams the most. Not because it’s a particularly rare record (at the writing of this, there are three copies currently up on Ebay), but instead simply because it’s a very beautiful record. As soon as I saw it sticking out of a crate at one of the Beat Swap Meet’s dealers, I was just overjoyed. Few records fill me with as much peace and tranquility as this one, these were things I was sorely in need of in 2013 and it was a blessing to be able to pick this one up.
1. Hopeton Lewis – Take It Easy – Merritone [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park]
Hopeton Lewis – This Poor Boy
While the Gabor Szabo record might have been my most satisfying find of 2013, there’s no doubt that this record was the rarest and most incredible find of the year. I was at Gimme Gimme with a fair amount of money in my pocket after not having bought any records for months and months. As expected there were a bevy of fine records to choose from, but all of my plans were changed as soon as the dude working there (not the owner) dropped the needle on “Take It Easy.” Everything just stopped. I had to really think for a moment, I knew Prince Buster’s version of the song, but couldn’t recall anyone else’s version. I was intrigued, but after the initial shock, I continued to browse through the jazz section. In hindsight, I should have immediately asked about the record, because I could have lost it right then, if any of the other 4 people in the store (including Logan from this blog, I think some people might not have believed she was a real person or a real collector, but she is on both counts) had recognized it and asked about it they would have beaten me to the punch and I would have been kicking myself for the rest of my life. Then “Sounds & Pressure” came on, my single favorite Rock Steady song of all time. I knew then that this was a Hopeton Lewis record and that it would be mine. I immediately asked the dude behind the counter what Lewis record it was, and how much it was. Turned out it was from a pile that the owner had brought to the store, but hadn’t priced. This was the second time this had happened to me at Gimme Gimme this past year. The first time around, it was a gold label copy of Ray Baretto’s Acid that was just sitting by the register, also without a pricetag on it. The owner was there that day to give me a price. This time around, they had to call the owner, who wasn’t immediately available and so a message was left. Thankfully he called back, set the price a bit over $100, which is pricey, but copies of this same record have gone for over $300 and the chances of just running into another copy would be next to impossible, so I couldn’t let it go. Not a single regret on my part and definitely the top find of 2013.
Happy Hunting for 2014,