Copped a few 45s today – didn’t know about this great Otis Redding version of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” Ill.
A few finds this past weekend.
There’s this short film about a guy in Pittsburgh who has amassed the largest record collection ever. He calls it “The Archive.” In the movie, he says that the Library of Congress did a study of his collection, and found that for records released between the years 1948 – 1966, only 17% of that music is available on CD.
This guy has over two-million records, so that’s a crazy number. It means 83% of the music in his collection over a span of eighteen years has mostly been forgotten in the digital age. It makes you wonder how much – or little – music from any given year may end up being “timeless,” or how long it takes for a song or album before it becomes forgotten, buried beneath hundreds and thousands of others decades later.
But for us record nerds, there’s a certain kind of excitement too. It means a lot of undiscovered treasure, treasure only available on vinyl. It’s the kind of thing that inspires me to go out next weekend and keep looking through crusty stacks of LPs for some artist or label I’ve never seen before, some obscure b-side I never knew about.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always been a collector – coins, toys, baseball cards, etc – but records were a way for me to move past being just another obsessive hoarder. The joy of records is playing them – not only for yourself, but especially with others.
For the past five years, I have created and distributed at least one mixtape every single month, via the internets. I did this mainly for two reasons: as a challenge to myself, to do something creative on a consistent basis; and to play all these crazy records I’d been amassing. Records that because of my eclectic taste, I might not be able to fit on one or two mixtapes. Records that you can’t really dance to, or records that I would dance to but most people probably wouldn’t. Records that had important meaning to me but might not fit within cliche definitions of “hip-hop.”
This latest tape carries that theme – I just wanted to play some of my favorite joints plus some classic breaks I don’t usually play, and intersperse a few vocal clips of people talking about why they love records. It kind of floats through various genres and hopefully is a fun sort of compilation of my continuing digging adventures. Shout out to Ani for the photo used on the cover.
When people find out I’m a DJ, they usually ask me where I spin. It’s hard to describe to them that besides an occasional afterparty or random gig, I spent most of my time making obscure mixtapes for an internet audience much bigger than most live shows I’ve played. I want to say thank you to everyone who let me play these kinds of records and bumped these “tapes” over the past five years. One of the reasons I’ve continued making these mixes has been the positive reaction to them, and I feel indebted to everyone who’s stuck around and supported my tapes from the beginning.
I also want to send a huge thank-you and shout-out to all the blogs who have plugged my tapes since 2007, especially Grandgood, CrateKings, and Pipomixes. Additionally, shouts to King Megatrip, JNOTA and ReDefinition Records, Root70Lounge, thisistomorrow, Stephanie Vaughn, DomeShots&FatLaces, TROYBlog, Kevin Nottingham, The RapUp, Heavy Soul Brutha and anyone I’ve forgotten who blogged about my tapes and got the word out.
Further thank-yous to Verb Math, Evolve-One, Brian Burk, Alex Stange, Omega Jackson, Walidah, Dahwud, Jelani, DJ Seek-Ten, DJ Center, DJ Sayeed, Bina, Gabe T, Keyel, Kinetik and Dirty Hairy for coming through with drops on these mixes. Also big shout to Amy Goodman for saying my name on a Democracy Now! show years ago – the best mixtape drop a lefty DJ could ask for.
Finally, I am not putting an end to making mixtapes or new projects – just the monthly series. There will be more tapes, more creations, more experiments. Change is good, and it’s time for something new.
— DJ Ian Head
Some footage released by Shadow of his studio and lots of records, plus him on the cuts. Also, record store digging footage I hadn’t checked before:
Went on a sweaty, Saturday morning mission to three spots over in Greenpoint. Not highly successful, but once again the cheap bins came through with the heaviest treats. Copped a promo copy of Saafir’s classic “Light Sleeper” / “Battle Drill” 12 for $3, including a vintage Saafir sticker on the jacket.
Aside from that, a Cannonball I hadn’t seen before – “Prism” – with some Axlerod-produced cuts and such, and a couple other 12s. When I got home though I started looking through my recent record stacks and realized how many joints I’d copped in the last month and how little I’d been able to listen to them. While the obsession never dies I think there’s moments where I need to pull back for a minute and get to studying what I have in the crates. Especially during this three-day weekend as I plan out the next mixtape.
So this morning I started going through some records I’d had for awhile that I hadn’t pulled in a minute. Thumbing through I noticed a number of records that need to get cleansed – but that’s for another blog post. Finally I got to a classic – Black Heat’s self-titled album, which I’d copped because I knew they’d had some b-boy classics, but then never really went back to. Today I listened to it all the way through – one of the best funk albums I’ve heard in ages. Ridiculous and heavy, so glad to have it in the crate.
Not as much time or money on the digging this week. Copped a nice early Monty Alexander record yesterday for a dollar – I love most anything Monty does, and got a chance to see him perform live at the Blue Note (with legend Ernest Ranglin) a month or two ago, which was incredible. The past year I’ve really gotten into a lot of the Pacific Jazz recordings – especially the stuff Les Mccann and the Crusaders did on the label. The records sound great – it’s that solid, clear, analog feel.
Monty does a nice version of “Comin Home Baby” on the record but I can’t find that cut on Youtube, so here’s an equally impressive version off Herbie Mann’s “Live at the Village Gate” album, which I also picked up this week, specifically for this tune. Admittedly I can’t really get into most of Mann’s stuff, but this cut is my joint.