(DJ DC Digga/The Heavy Set)
Location: Washington, DC
Years of Digging: Going on 20 years strong
My government name is Marshall and I slang records for a living. I've been religiously diggin' for black gold on wax since 1997 when my boom box gave out and instead of copping a new one, I ended up buying an AIWA all-in-one system that had a turntable from Circuit City. This forced me to run to my parent's house and grab all the old records I left there since I now had something to play them on. Just that innocently, I caught the bug that made me go out and feed my turntable with the best grooves possible and I haven't recovered since. I think this may be a lifelong sickness. Ever since then, I've made it a mission to find the rarest grooves to add to my ever growing collection, but a funny thing happens when you come out of your initial record snob phase, you find joy in dollar bin grooves, foreign records you can't read or pronounce, music from artists you never would have dreamed you'd end up loving, and if your lucky, a community of diggers/record snobs/wax fanatics that appreciate this strange obsession as much as you do. For the past 10 years, I've been blessed to turn this hobby into a full time obsession by selling music at my home away from home, Memory Lane CD's & Records, in District Heights, MD. My record digging mantra: "No matter what it is, as long as it's got some soul in it, i'll dig it!"
Harlem River Drive - S/T
I start my top 5 with this record mainly because my pursuit of it changed my professional life. Around 2000, I was getting into Latin/Salsa music and found out about this record from a reissue site, Turntable Lab. Once I heard the sound clips of it, it was full blown love. Of the few guys I would dig with, most didn't know it, or the one or two that did swore I'd never find it outside of the reissue. That lit a spark to find an original of it. I also wanted a choice piece that nobody in my diggin' circle had at that point. After a few months, my search turned up nothing, but one day I come across this shop called Memory Lane CD's & Records. I walk in, and ask in a kind of stand offish manner "I know you may have never heard of this, but I'm looking for this record called Harlem River Drive by a pianist named Eddie Palmieri. You've probably never heard of him." The guy behind the counter flips through a few records and says "Are you talking about this?" My face starts to melt to see an OG copy of it right before me. Unfortunately, I didn't have the $100 to scoop it that day, but damn if I didn't make some moves to score it a weeks after. From that day I knew this spot was the s*%# when it came to finding rare grooves and over the years, me and the store owner Mike have come to have a great business relationship that has flourished into my current situation as manager of Memory Lane CD's & Records.
Ok, enough of my backstory with this record. For starters, Eddie Palmieri's music and Jimmy Norman's vocals paint such a vivid picture of the ghetto/barrio that the only way you don't feel is if you don't have a soul. With the initial organ riff's that open the title track, you know this will be something different from Eddie's earlier work on Alegre or Tico. You get the soul of this record from the title track. Of course, everyone's favorite song on the album is "Idle Hand's". It's a killer the whole way through, and "Seeds of Life" picks up where "Idle Hands" leaves off. Only 5 songs on the LP, but each one makes and incredible statement. I cherish the several copies I've been blessed to find over the years.
Rare Essence Live At Breeze's Metro Club
Kolossal Records, 1986
Growing up in the DC area in the 80's & 90's, Go-Go music ruled. Still does in my opinion. Anyone who was raised on it will tell that the best Go-Go was never on vinyl, it was always on a PA tape. If it wasn't for this being a top 5 "Record Review", my choices maybe 5 different PA tapes from my high school years. Few Go-Go albums carry the same power on wax as the band would on tape, but this one definitely holds up. The subtitle for this LP is "The Album That Kept the Whole Neighborhood Rockin'". Damn sure did! Within a month of it coming out, every Go-Go head knew every lyric and every groove on the A & B sides. There's no standout track because the whole LP, like a true Go-Go concert, keeps going, and going, and going....No break in the action, just Go-Go power from beginning to end. The only thing missing from this set, as to a real PA tape, is an awkward pause because of a fight breaking out, or a slow jam in the middle to calm down the crowd so they can catch a breath before RE goes into overdrive for the second set. This is classic old school DC, where, before the city shut them all down, you could just about catch a show every night at some club, before gentrification, and before we started calling it the "DMV" when it was simply known as the "urea". You were either from "Mer-land", "DC", or "Va-gin-ya". Personally, I knew some people who got shouted out on this record. Read the last chapter of Natalie Hopkinson's "Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of Chocolate City". You'll come to find out the historic significance of this recording, both in a good and bad way.
Il Corpo (The Body) O.S.T.
Sound Work Shop, 1974
I was blessed to acquire this record in a trade some years ago. Before this, I had never heard of the composer Piero Umiliani, didn't know how revered he was in Italian cinema for his film scores. All I know is that when the needle hit the first track, "Hard Times", I knew that a heavy piece from my then very young collection was gonna have to be sacrificed. Then when I flipped over to the B-side and the needle drops on "Chaser", it was all I could do not to jump out of my skin. Pure blaxploitation bliss on that track. Overall, each side has at least three great tracks, even if the B-side has a rip-off to Timmy Thomas's "Why Can't We Live Together". The price of the OG has sky rocketed into the THOUSANDS, even with a reissue. It's definitely worth a few hundred if you can find a clean copy here in the states.
Unknown Artist Unknown Title
There are six definite things I know about this record 1.) I can't speak or read Korean, so I have no idea what she's singing about. 2.) This woman can sing her ass off. 3.) Her band is funky as hell. 4.) I was meant to have this record because I kicked it over along with a few other Korean and Japanese records while walking into a record store down south and the guy running the shop said if I liked them, he'll throw them in for free in my pile to make way for some Marvin Gaye records he needed to make space for. 5.) Of the ten songs on this album, seven of them will make any beat machine very happy and curse you out in digital read back for not sending these sounds through it's system earlier. 6.) Just like the pretty lady on the cover, I jump for joy every time I play this. Yeah lady, my big ass is happy as hell too! I don't know if this record is a holy grail (probably isn't) or dollar bin record in Seoul or Busan (more that likely, the latter.) All I know is that it stays in heavy rotation. If anyone knows about this gem, please contact me at my record and give up the goods. I've been researching hard and can't get anything definite. My feeling won't be hurt if it's a dime a dozen record. It's a precious jewel to me.
Eclipse Metronome, 1980
This record is a straight ahead big band showcase except for the unbelievably funky track "Honky Punk". What it represents to me is the theme music for a now defunct website called Baghat Vinyl. I found the site through an old chat room/blog site I used to frequent religiously called SoulStrut. I still hit up that site every once in a blue moon. I can't tell you the exact year I found Baghat Vinyl, but when I first discovered it, this song would play in the background and all these rare record gems would appear that I had never seen before or heard of. Let's just say a whole 'notha lane opened up for me and my diggin' knowledge from that day on. There are at least 30 records on my shelf right now I refer to as "Baghat Vinyl" records, and I've got a wishlist of about 80 more I'm still searching for. I may have never known about the "KNEF" record, Sarolta Zalatnay, America Giovane, Piotr, the "funky" TeleMusic records, Sol Zim, Maad, Bob Azzam, Frank Cunimondo, Don Covay's "Funky Yo-Yo", The Vacations, Trevor Dandy, of course the before mentioned Thad Jones record.........the list goes on and on. I've got 4 pages on my wish list dedicated to finding all the records I jotted down from that site. I'm glad I spent the better part of two weekend writing down and listening to records that site turned me onto. Damn, I miss those guys! Whatever happened to that site? Whatever happened to those dudes who found those records? If you know them, tell them that Marshall from Memory Lane owes them a never ending amount of gratitude for turning him onto some incredible music.