Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A little Northern Soul for the Mod on the run

Just in case it hasn't been clear yet, let me just formally announce that I love everything that is retro and vintage. Much to my girlfriend's dismay, I can hardly resist stopping at a garage sale every time I come across one. I regularly attend antique shows. I frequent flea markets and thrift stores religiously. I make the rounds of my favorite antique shops whenever I get the chance. I genuinely get excited when I find that one item I've been looking for. I’m thrilled when someone spontaneously says: “Where the hell did you find that?”

It takes time, dedication, a good eye and a decent amount of luck to be a treasure hunter and a skilled bargain hunter. But the best feeling of all is when you find something you didn’t know you wanted until you laid your eyes on it for the first time. My loft is full of them.

A couple of weeks ago, while I was making my rounds at my favorite local flea market, I came across this unassuming small styrofoam box. Finding an item in its original packaging is always an added bonus. I have often bought collectables because of the graphics on the box and didn’t really care what was inside.

This is what I saw when I pulled the styrofoam top off. Honey Pet? Even if I didn’t have a clue what it was, the name had me hooked. It had to be something cool.

And yes, the batteries were included!

When I pulled the cover off, I had the same reaction my friend Steph had when I showed him: “Awesome!” My own little portable 45rpm record player. At 20$, I thought it was a steal. Now this is what every Mod should have when he’s out on the town! One small problem, it had no needle.

So I had two options. Find a replacement needle or search for a donor turntable. I ended up with both. If I was going to find a needle, Addison Electronique is THE place to go. You'll find everything you need, in this warehouse type of store, to build your own stereo from scratch. I once found NOS knobs for my 70's Electrohome turntable at a dime a piece.

I showed up at the electronics counter with my Honey Pet in one hand and asked the clerk if he could help me. Dumbfounded, two other employees joined in. They had no clue what I needed. One of them told me that if one person at Addison could be of assistance, it had to be Jim (not sure about the name). I waited 45 minutes for his lunch break to be over and as soon as he picked up my strange piece of low-fi, he said: "Oh... I thought this was going to be a challenge. This is easy!" Five minutes and 5$ later, he had the needle installed. This place amazes me every time.

Meanwhile, I had found an untested mini record player on eBay. Best-case scenario, I would have two working turntables and the start of a new collection. Worst-case scenario, I would have spare parts. When I received my Commodore Micro Record Player, I couldn't believe it was even smaller then the Japanese Honey Pet.

After much tinkering and tweaking, I got both of them working. They remind me of a Lambretta engine. They are temperamental and not always reliable. They are cool gadgets nonetheless.

 But what would be a very cool record player without sweet soul music or some catchy 60's garage to spin? I had just learned that my friend Ben had come back from New York City with 2000 singles. That's right 2-0-0-0! He selected some 200 from the lot that would most likely be of interest to me. He came over to my place and we had an intense listening session. I ended up with 40 or so 45s. I basically bought all that I could with the money I had on hand. Amongst them I got a bunch of classic Tamla, a handful of groovy R&B tunes, a few Northern Soul gems, some rare and obscure 60's garage and a couple of weird and quirky space age tracks. The perfect mix for the Mod on the run...

Here is a sample of some of my favorite picks:

- Peaches "n" Cream by The Ikettes on Modern Record
- Some Kind of Wonderful by the Soul Brothers Six on Atlantic Records
- (We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet by the Blues Magoos on Mercury Records
- The "In" Crowd by Dobie Gray on Charger Records
- Little Bit O'Soul by The Music Explosion on Laurie Records
- Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp on Cameo Records
- Night Time by The Strangeloves on Bang Records
- Lies by The Knickerbockers on Challenge Records
- You Make Me Feel So Good by The Buckinghams on U.S.A. Records
- The Boy From New York City by The Ad Libs on Blue Cat Records

Check out these videos I posted on YouTube of a few of the records I added to my collection. Enjoy!


  1. Followed the link from your Flickr page...

    I'm going through the same thing. Or you could say, I'm entering that phase since in my case I'm now hunting for all sorts of neat old stuff that I couldn't afford when I was younger (and a lot of this stuff was still relatively new).

    Nice find on the Honey Pet.

  2. My thoughts exactly.

    Good luck with the Belvedere and Valiant. :)

  3. My dad was telling me about a portable 45 player he had back in the day. Made by some italian company. You'd slide the record in through a slot in the side and could play records regardless of the angle it was at. He also told me the thing would gouge the heck out of your records. I hope the needles on the ones you found are a bit more delicate on the records.

  4. I think this is what you might be refering to.

    There's also a model known as the Corallo by the Italian brand Wilco.

  5. I will just say this...I'm drooling! love!