Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Searching for Northern Soul in the Windy City

Chicago Soul has its well-deserved place in history. It has given birth to great soul acts and an array of labels that supported them. Chess, OKeh, Vee-Jay, Constellation are just a few of the labels that made their mark. So it was only natural that in a city known for such a vast and rich soul culture, that I was going to hunt down a few records to add to my collection.

I had a few addresses of record shops that I had summed up from the web but there’s nothing like the word of a local DJ to point you in the right direction.
That local spin master extraordinaire in question is DJ Sir Eric Colin. I had heard of him through the Facebook group MODchicago. According to the info on their page, a mixture of Soul, Garage Punk, Freakbeat, Euro Grooves and Psychedelia was on the menu at the Bar Deville. Sounds good to me!

The Bar Deville is the ideal place for this type of night. It’s a cozy neighborhood bar that has a very cool retro feel to it. Unfortunately, on that particular Thursday night, the place was virtually empty. Let me reassure you, it had nothing to do with the DJ's tunes. He was spot on. Sir Eric mastered the turntables and dropped the needle exclusively on 45s. That shows dedication in my book.

At one point, his musical selection took a sharp turn towards sixties French Pop. Brigitte Bardot's 1968 chart topper Harley Davidson echoed in the deserted place. My girlfriend and I started singing along to all the following French hits, one after the other. I am sure that the other few patrons in the place  wondered about where these weird strangers, knowing the words to these obscure French songs, came from.

At the end of the night, I went up to the DJ to thank him for the wonderful musical journey. A very friendly conversation ensued and the mystery of the two singing French Canadian was clarified. It was the perfect opportunity to ask him for the inside scoop on where to find a few must-have soul records. He was very helpful and suggested I should check out Hyde Park Records at 1377 E 53rd. He's been a long time customer. That was very generous of him because some people would rather keep the best places to themselves. But then again, I'm sure he had already raided the place.
The next day, off to Hyde Park Records I went. It's a great little shop with a few good rows of 45s to pick through. Of course, it would be unfair to compare it to the overwhelming choice you would find at People's Records in Detroit. That doesn't mean I left empty handed. I was also pleasantly surprised by the good condition of the records. Plus, the staff was very kind and hospitable. If I were living in Chicago, it would certainly be a place I would frequent often. According to Lary, new stuff is coming in on a regular basis.

 Here are some of the 45s that were added to the collection:

Karate-Boo-Ga-Loo - Jerryo - Shoot Records
The Bounce - The Olympics - Tri Disc Records
The Bump - Alvin Cash & The Crawlers - Mar-V-Lus Records
Booze In The Bottle - Carter Brothers - Jewel Records
What You Gave Up - The Continental 4 - Jay-Walking  Records

As for a good Mod friendly night in Chicago, you should seek out Chicago's own Face, Sir Eric Colin, at the weekly gig The Merge. I guarantee that it attracts a larger crowd then our quiet Thursday night escapade. For more info, check out the MODchicago gang on Facebook and the regular updates on The Merge Facebook page.


  1. Thanks for the review. Hyde Park records has a pretty good selection. Maybe it's time to check in on them. We linked to you blog post on our facebook page. Cheers!