Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The quest for Northern Soul and R&B records in Chicago: The final chapter

Before my road trip to Chicago ended, I had time to squeeze in a few more record shops. These were unscheduled and I stumbled upon them by chance. Sometimes, this is when you get unexpected and pleasant surprises.
First was Reckless Records. They have a few locations across the city and I got a chance to visit the Madison store. This place seems popular because it was fairly busy. They have a decent selection of CDs, DVDs, LPs and books. 

Don't expect to go crate digging here because their 45rpm section is tiny. Most of the records you'll come across are from newer indie, punk and alternative bands. 

But I've learnt something from all my years of antique and flea market shopping. Parka Avenue shopping tip #325: Always ask the guy behind the counter if he has stuff that just came in. Hold and behold, he did! He dropped a box of two dozen 45s in front of me. You could tell a record collector had just came in and sold his stash. One thing was certain; this mysterious seller was very meticulous and careful because these records were in mint condition.
This is what I left with.

Got To Find A Way – Harold Burrage – m-pac! Records
You Ought To Be Ashamed – Andrew Brown – 4 Brothers Records
Better To Be By Yourself – Al King – Modern Records

Next was Gramaphone Records, situated at 2843 North Clark Street. Don't let the name fool you, you won't find any 78rpm or wax cylinders for your 1899 Edison phonograph. Quite surprisingly they sell mostly house and techno records.

Again rule #325 proved to be useful. There was a box of 45s on the counter with nothing in it worth mentioning but there was a box in the back store of unpriced singles begging to hit the open market. It was once more the result of somebody getting rid of his collection. This time it was Jimmy that grew tired of listening to soul and R&B. His name was on every other record. And you don't have to worry about buying a record without having a chance to listen to it because there are listening stations everywhere.

The staff was very friendly and attentive. Jason went beyond the call of duty and introduced me to a website called It's a place where you can build a personal database of your record collection. It also serves as a marketplace for music fanatics to buy or sell music. It's apparently a good alternative to eBay.
Here are a few 45s I am glad I put my hands on.

Let’s Have Some Fun Part I – Mod Singers & Mod Lads – Savern Records
Strain On My Heart - Roscoe Shelton – Sims Records
The Price Of Love - The Soul Invaders – Sagport Records
The Meditation - TNT Band – Cotique Records
This Is Paradise - The Rituals – Arwin Records (Promotional copy)
Why Girl - The Precisions – Drew Records
Everybody Saw You - Ruby Andrews – Zodiacs Records
Last but not least was Dave's Records. Not too far from Gramaphone Records you can take a leisurely stroll to 2604 North Clark Street. Dave's motto is simple and stated right on the store window: "All vinyl. All the time." Sounds good to me!

If you are looking for a brand new copy of a recently released album, chances are you will find it there. As for 45s, my luck had run out. There’s a small section at the back, behind the counter. Don’t expect to find a rare promo copy of an obscure Northern Soul group for a dollar. Dave is simply too knowledgeable to make that kind of a mistake. Another thing you won’t find is a listening station. But if you ask Dave nicely, he will play it on the store sound system. I did leave with a mint copy of a very cool soul/surf version of the Batman theme by The Marketts and the Booker T and the MG’s LP Hip Hug-Her.

In the end, I think my hunt through the Mid-West was a successful one. I didn’t find an ultra rare, never released, demo version of an unknown soul singer worth thousands of dollars. I probably wouldn’t have recognized it anyway. Instead, I brought home infectious grooves that will keep my feet shuffling for years to come. Every time I will drop the needle on one of those tunes, I will be transported back to that memorable road trip. Now, all I need is a jukebox!


  1. Hi Pat, Is T.P.O.H. consider as a Mod group?

  2. Not really Gate. Even if some indie/power pop groups have a Mod following, The Pursuit of Happiness never had one. For one, they don't have "the look". And that, aside from the music, is one of the most important criteria, like it or not.

    But that doesn't mean TPOH is not a good group. I used to love these guys! They were from Toronto and they were popular in the late 80s when I used to live there. I felt like they really spoke to me with their hit "I'm an adult now". Ah! The memories...

    Check out their video on YouTube.

  3. Wow, cool that you found anything! I'd hit Chicago in 2002 and 2003 while DJ-ing at Mod Chicago(back when I still did that sorta thing)and the record hunting was pretty darn scarce thanks to my local comrades there!