Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buying Soul 45s in Chicago: Part II

After writing this post, I just hope my friends will still talk to me. When you have a record shop like Logan Hardware near you, you want to keep it all to yourself. I don’t blame them because this is one of the best-kept secrets the city has to offer.

Don't tell these guys I wrote about this place. I still want them as friends.
For one, you have a ton of 45s to dig through and the prices are dirt-cheap. Once you have spent a few dinero, you can access the back room full of vintage arcade games and you can play at your heart’s content free of charge. How’s that for a perfect day?

Not only this store has an incredible looking storefront (that’s right, it used to be a hardware store back in the day) but also the staff is friendly and helpful. If any of you regularly frequent such establishments, you very well know that record shops are usually owned by two types of people: crazy paranoid record hoarders or petulant snobs. This might be a greatly exaggerated caricature but you know I’m not that far from the truth.

The staff at this place does not fall in any of these two categories. The charming salesperson even politely escorted out a homeless character who was monopolizing the listening station for a while. Not that I should have preferential treatment but he did listen to the whole A-side of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was quite entertaining to see him leave spewing out a few “Gawd Damn Maaan!” Nothing too dramatic it seems because apparently he will be back the next day to listen to that same obscure and priceless record.

Aside from the captivating drama, I did leave with a few choice records. I only have a single complaint. I still don’t understand why some stores still insist on putting price tags on the labels. The label is damaged almost every time when you try to remove it. Can we settle for  having it on the dead wax or the record sleeve please?

Here are some of my favorite picks.

Breaking Point – Etta James – Argo
The Urge Keeps Coming (Dance, Dance, Dance) – Jo Armstead And Band – Giant
What Time It Is (Part I) – General Crook – Down To Earth
I Need Somebody – Little Milton – Checker

Beverly – Billy Watkins – Kent
Hands Off – Betty Everett – Vee-Jay
Have More Time – Marvin Smith – Brunswick

Count Down (Here I Come) – The Young Hearts – Minit
It’s L.B. Time – Joe (Youngblood) Cobb – Gossip Tree
Don’t Turn Your Back On Me – The Mandells – Trans World Sound

This funky number is a reworked version of the Isley Brothers' hit It’s Your Thing with politically incorrect yet disturbingly funny lyrics like "If you kick my dog, I'll beat your cat".

I’ll Pay You Back – Magic Sam – Minit

On a less positive note, I also visited Dusty Groove America. Although they have an impeccable store with some of the cleanest records around, they certainly lack in friendly customer service.

In fact, you feel like a nuisance. You are only allowed to listen to 3 records and they will play them for you over the store’s system. My record dealer friend Laurent, who usually walks in a place with a few hundred dollars to spend, hasn’t had the best experience in the place. He once had to insist on having some service all the while having his name on a poster on the wall behind the counter.

Let’s just put it this way, Dusty Groove is not your friendly neighborhood shop, it’s a business. But if you're looking for a mint copy of a rare Jazz LP, by all means visit the place but you might as well just order from them online.

This explains why I left with a single 45 and Laurent with only 3. At least the record is one hell of a cracking Northern Soul killer.

Good Lovin’ Man – Dolores Hall - Keymen

I don’t think Chicago needs this little blog to cement its reputation has one the best places in the world to buy Soul and RnB records but just in case some of you had any doubts, it’s right up there with Detroit, New York, Memphis and New Orleans. With many prolific record labels that saw the light on Record Row, it’s a gold mine for any Mod wanting to expend his record collection.

I leave you with a very compelling and significant segment of a documentary about Soul and RnB labels in Chicago. This is only part 5 of the full documentary and I urge you to seek out the first 4 parts on YouTube. It's narrated by none other than Etta James.

Chicago has it all and I will miss it. I feel right at home here and the street art only reinforces the reasons why.

GO TO JAIL For Public Douchebaggery