Features

SDE New York diary: Day one

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SDE Editor, Paul Sinclair, heads to New York for a few days to take in the Big Apple during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Record Store Day. He’ll be checking out the best of what record stores are left in Manhattan, heading over to Brooklyn for more vinyl and CD exploration and talking to shop owners, and record buyers. Read about his adventures for the next few days in these exclusive diary posts…

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Day 1 / Wednesday 25 November

After the inevitable early start, I’m on DL1 (Delta) from London Heathrow to New York City.

I was vaguely aware that wi-fi was available on aeroplanes but I thought that was slightly more theoretical than, er,  actual. However, upon enquiring, I was encouraged by a stewardess who assured me that it should be fine. Since the battery on my laptop was only about 50 percent full and Apple have been telling me for ages (via the power symbol on my MacBook Air) to “Service Battery” there seemed little point in buying the ‘full flight’ option from Delta, because with no power socket available, my computer was going to go die on me in less than two hours. So I selected the $19.99 one hour option. Somehow this airline have managed to do across the Atlantic Ocean, what the UK’s East Cost Mainline (now Virgin East Coast) train service couldn’t do between London and Leeds – that is deliver a wi-fi service that is largely reliable and just works.

SDE New York diary: Day one / On the flight

A cheeky Jack Daniels and Coke while watching “Terminator Genysis”

This allowed me to post about The Early Motown EP box set, tweet about how I’d joined what I’m calling the ‘Mile High Blogging Club’ (MHBC) and send my wife a ‘you’ll-never-guess-where-I’m-sending-this-from’ email. Maybe transatlantic wi-fi is old news to some, but, hey, I think it’s amazing!

The flight landed at JFK about 1.30 local time and once through customs (“what’s the purpose of your visit?” me: “Blogging”) I jumped in a cab.

It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and after a pleasingly fast-driving cabby (let’s just say I put my seatbelt on) we arrived promptly in downtown Manhattan. It turns out that my home for the next four nights – The Washington Square Hotel – has appropriately ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ credentials, because it’s where The Rolling Stones stayed on their first US tour and has provided a bed for the night for the likes of Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, The Mamas and the Papas and Joan Baez.

It’s in the heart of ‘the village’ (I was told never to say ‘Greenwich Village’) and the plan is over the next few days to visit as many record shops as possible. Early warning: I”m going to try and do some live Periscope events, that will hopefully involve me taking/talking you around some groovy places. If you don’t know about Periscope, it’s the latest groovy social media ‘thing’, which involves pressing a button on the app on your phone and in an instant you’re broadcasting to the world. Viewers can send realtime text messages which the person doing the broadcast (me) can answer (by speaking) or respond to (by moving the camera somewhere interesting). Be aware,  you need to follow SDE on twitter to get the ‘live broadcast’ message. This is because Twitter bought Periscope and have semi-integrated it with Twitter.

After checking in, the sensible thing would have been to have got a few hours shut eye, since at this point I’d already been up for 14 hours, but sod that, I’m in New York City! Time to go for a wander…

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I came across an Urban Outfitters and I remembered reading this article a while back, about how they are supposedly the world’s largest stockist of vinyl records. Okay, not the *coolest* place to start, but I went in to have a look.

It turns out that they don’t appear to sell used vinyl anymore (at least this branch didn’t) which was a disappointment, but they had a decent selection of new and classic releases. Adele’s 25 (of course!), lots of Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey but also Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles. Such is the clout of the retailer they are going the Target, Best Buy and Walmart route, doing special ‘exclusives’ which in the main appear to largely revolve around exclusive covers, or unique coloured pressings rather than offering extra tracks.

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Urban Outfitters sell exclusive editions

Okay, so enough of Urban Outfitters, time to go in search of more independent fare! I was loosely heading towards Bleecker Street with a view to locating Rebel Rebel Records, but as it turned out I walked down it in the wrong direction and was walking away from Rebel Rebel. Luckily it didn’t matter, because I ended up coming across Village Music World. Just one look at the outside and I knew I’d hit the motherlode. This looked like just the sort of place that existed in London’s soho, or Chinatown in the eighties, or early nineties.

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Village Music World has been here for 25 years and is a narrow but deep shop stuffed full of vinyl, CDs, DVDs and tapes (I didn’t see any “Lasers”). Loads of boxes of stock in and around the counter area was the telltale sign that they are participating in Record Store Day on Friday and in fact they have an impressive stock of ‘old’ RSD releases, such as Rolling Stones‘ seven-inch singles, the Nilsson Sessions 1967-1975 vinyl and loads of the supposedly hard to get hold of David Bowie Changes seven-inch picture disc.

I was in there for ages and the owner agreed that I could do a live Periscope broadcast from the shop. I’m planning to do this on Saturday morning local time which will be mid-to-late afternoon in the UK. Follow SDE on Twitter to tune in and I’ll literally show you around the inside of this shop, while you ask questions.

By now I really was flagging. I hadn’t eaten for seven hours and it was starting to get cold and it was after midnight in the UK. Time to head up to Madison Square Park for a Shake Shack burger.  I hadn’t actually realised that this was an ‘outdoor’ restaurant, but I was starving by the time I got there, so I wasn’t complaining and it was very pretty.

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Shake Shack in Madison Square Park

Appetite sated,  I headed back to the hotel for an ‘early’ night. Although I ended up watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles which never ages and seems to get funnier with repeat viewings. This being US network television, they destroyed the humour in the “I want a fucking car, right fucking now… ” scene by editing all the ‘fucks’ out of it!

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“The last thing I want to be remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth”

Of course, the film was being shown because its Thanksgiving today. I’m very happy to be in America for Thanksgiving, so Happy Holidays to everyone in the US!

Check back tomorrow for day two of my New York diary.

paulsig

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48 responses to SDE New York diary: Day one

  1. Christopher Straub says:

    Academy Records on 18th street between 5th and 6th avenues. You’ll be happy.

  2. Christopher Straub says:

    Also try the recently relocated Bleecker Street records at 188 West 4th street. Academy also has a branch in Brooklyn. Generation records on Thompson Street is worth a look. Sadly, so many of the great old stores are gone. St. Marks place used to be full of record stores. Now there’s only one and for all I know it may be gone. It has been on the verge of closing for ages. There are a number of stores in Brooklyn. Mostly small. Mostly vinyl oriented. What was once the best source for new CD’s, J&R Music world, closed unceremoniously a few years ago.

  3. Le BAron says:

    Glad to follow your adventures in New York. :)
    What is your pseudonym on the Periscope APP?

  4. Da'Ron Brown says:

    REBEL REBEL RECORDS is a must stop for you. 319 Bleeker st. & Christofer St. in the village. Also check out RECORD RUNNER @ 5 Jones St. in the village as well. Tell the owners I sent you.

  5. David says:

    To avoid outrageous Manhattan prices for vinyl (some used stuff is about 4 times as expensive as other places), head to Brooklyn .

  6. richie says:

    Well I`m on annual leave, using a few days up so I suppose it`s happy hols whatever that is. `Happy Hols`? ball hocks.

  7. Adam shaw says:

    Any news out there of the Pink Floyd 3 x 7 ” 1965 set for RSD ?

  8. Rodolfo Martin says:

    Welcome to USA. Don;t forget to eat your turkey!
    Rodolfo

  9. JAMES says:

    Paul
    Don’t forget these:
    Co-Op 87 is located at 87 Guernsey Street between Nassau and Norman Ave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (347-294-4629).

    Black Gold is located at 461 Court Street between Luquer St and 4th Pl in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (347-227-8227

    The Thing is located at 1001 Manhattan Ave between Huron and Green Streets in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-349-8234)

    Turntable Lab is located at 120 East 7th Street between 1st Ave and Ave A in the East Village (212-677-0675

    Next time you go looking for vinyl in the US please go to Texas. NY is ok but the motherload is in DFW, Austin & Houston & many more. Plus ya’ll can get wicked good food & tons of live music to boot

  10. BritinDetroit says:

    Paul – Welcome, the Detroit Lions will be on at 12.30 pm, enjoy

  11. Nick says:

    Hi Paul

    I know it might seem strange to suggest that you leave NY but if you can spare half a day away from the city then I recommend a visit to the Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey (www.prex.com). It’s about 1 hour away from NYC and worth the trip.

    I can guarantee you won’t leave empty handed. It’s accessible by train or I’m sure one of your loyal readers would be happy to drive you… (I’m always looking for an excuse to go!)

    – Nick

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I do want to go there on Saturday, so if anyone cares to join me, let me know! (paul@superdeluxeedition.com)

    • Richie says:

      Nick, that little tip about Austin Tx, has brought a huge smile to my face. Lots of great vinyl shops and GOOD food, yip bloody pee!
      I’ m over with friends for the SXSW festival in ’16, my first trip to the U.S. Of A. HAPPY BLOODY HOLS!

  12. Christopher Straub says:

    I second the princeton suggestion. It takes me 90 minutes to drive there under the best of traffic conditions, but it is absolutely worth the trip. I try to go every 4 months or so and every time I head to Philly or DC with the family, they know they will be stuck making a detour to princeton for “lunch.” The used selection is incredible and the prices can’t be beat. A great place for filling those pesky holes in the collection.

  13. Paul Fraser says:

    I remember chancing across Rebel Rebel Records and having to go in based on its name alone. Spent silly money in there.

  14. Jim Horan says:

    Have a nice time in NYC…for once, it’s not freezing cold, snowing, or raining there! If you can make it to NJ and the Princeton Record Exchange, see if you go a little further north to Vintage Vinyl in Fords, NJ, not far from the Garden State Parkway….and of course hit the nearby White Castle for a sack of burgers!!!!!!

  15. Charles Hodgson says:

    “Planes Trains & Automobiles” – my all-time favourite comedy! Pull the “my dogs are barking” sock twirling routine if you get sat next to a jerk on the way back!

    BTW, you mentioned Bleecker Street – is “Bleecker Bobs” still there? That was a good one – only had time to scratch the surface, but did score a cool Television bootleg there.

    The local tax thing was weird though, never knew what I was gonna get charged!

    Any decent live gigs when you’re there?

    Have a great time!

    • David Rubin says:

      HI
      Sadly Bleecker Bobs closed in the early 2000. It really was a great store.
      Found and sold some really obscure punk and prog there.
      Dave

  16. Jon says:

    Hi Paul,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and I hope you enjoy your stay here in the US. I just visited NYC last month and took in some much obliged record shopping. A few good stores there but the one that I spent the most in was OTHER MUSIC on 4th street, some great obscure finds but very small shop. Nothing in the top 40 will be available there. :)

    I’ve also heard Academy Records is great but I went to obscure record shops instead. Enjoy your stay and next time come over here to California and visit Amoeba Records in Hollywood!

  17. Cindy says:

    Yay! You ate a Shake Shack! LOL!

  18. The Swede says:

    Permanent Records in Brooklyn, run by the very cool Marjorie, is well worth a visit. I’d also second the previous suggestion that you check out the basement of The Thing while you’re on that side of the river – it has to be seen to be believed.
    In Manhattan you should check out Other Music on East 4th Street. It’s very small, a little elitist and pretty expensive, but the stock quality threshold is extremely high. Enjoy!

  19. Alan Boyd says:

    Hi Paul any Black Friday Deals today (Thursday!)

    Thanks

    Alan

  20. Georgios says:

    Have a great time, Paul!

  21. Sezai Basar says:

    Hi Paul Any shop you know that would sell RSD items abroad ? Thanks Sezai

  22. I agree with the others that Other Music and Turntable Lab are both worth a visit. They cater for different markets so they’ll be no duplication there. Great staff in both. Black and Gold plus Academy for your Brooklyn visit are also a must.

  23. Daniel says:

    Hey Paul, I’m a long time reader, first time commenter. I was in New York City in May. My first stop was Rebel Rebel and I was severely disappointed. The place is tiny and filled with unopened boxes on the floor, but if you’re looking for obscure vinyl this might be the place for you. My next stop was Village Music World and I completely agree with everything you had to say about the place. Bleeker St. Records is also within walking distance from the other two and is definitely worth checking out. It’s similar in size and selection to Village Music World, but this place is filled with cd bootlegs. That’s something I hadn’t seen prevalent in a record store since the 90’s. I consider Other Music to be the best record store in Manhattan. It’s not that big a place, but the selection is incredible. It would be the first place I went on RSD if I lived in NYC. Good luck in New York and keep up the good work!

  24. Gary C says:

    Or Amoeba Records in San Francisco…

  25. Steven C says:

    Someone recommended Brooklyn.. I’d suggest you include that and pizza at Grimaldis there too. In NYC, you can go to Rough Trade. Also, not to promote this sort of thing, but this could be your chance to get those Target exclusive editions without shipping fees.. When you come to California one day, the record shops will blow you away. I can recommend several.. Thanks for the holiday wishes..

  26. Arnaldo says:

    Hi Paul,
    As avid reader of your blog, music lover, collector and record store hunter I would like to add a few stores in addition to the great ones already mentioned. They’re a bit farther out in Long Island: Looney Tunes in West Babylon, High Fidelity in Amityville (amazing prices! tell Mark that Arnaldo sent you) & Infinity Records in Massepequa. The latter two are easily accessible via the LIRR about 70 min from Manhattan and a short walk. The have great used vinyl & cd sections and all participants of RSD. Another small shop in the East Village that no one has mentioned is Good Music on East 5th St 2nd/3rd Ave worth checking out for some used vinyl. Also Academy Records vinyl Annex on East 12th St. AVOID Second Hand Rose the most overpriced record store and arrogant owner/shopkeeper in NYC! Happy Hunting!

  27. David Rubin says:

    Hi,
    Glad you made it here. NYC had some great stores in the 70’s and 80’s.
    You missed Bleeker Bob’s. This was a GREAT punk music store that had some really great items at good prices.
    While in NYC, try a walk down 8th street in the village. Last time I was there, I stopped in about 4 or 5 record stores and found great promo lps and cds.
    Hope the trip goes great and thanks for all the wonderful heads up.
    Dave

    • Christopher Straub says:

      The days of there being record stores on west 8th are long gone. St. Marks place is what would be east 8th (if it were called that). Also once a great place for record stores. Not any more. So many stores have closed over the past decade or so. It’s really sad.

  28. Raj says:

    Next time come visit Chicago- I’ll show you the many stores here! Cheers!

  29. Christopher Straub says:

    I agree with Arnaldo about Second Hand Rose.

  30. Mark says:

    Disc-O-Rama is on 8th st right around the corner from your hotel. They’re good for RSD releases also try Ben’s Pizza on 3rd st & MacDougal

  31. Bill says:

    Paul–try Academy Records on 18th Street. Also if you are still in the City on Monday and want to meet for lunch let me know .
    Bill

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Would love to have met for lunch Bill. Unfortunately I’m flying back on Sunday evening. Thanks for the offer though :)

  32. francesco says:

    Princeton record Exchange (www.prex.com) – in Princeton, one hour by bus from NYC. the Holy Grail for record lovers. you cannot miss that.

    Francesco

  33. Marcel says:

    If you find any Kim Wilde 8-tracks, please take them along for me. :)

  34. Nimo says:

    Hi Paul

    I can’t believe that SDE is now on a trip and reporting to all of us.
    Excellent!
    Have the best time in my old city and happy thanksgiving.
    Best Nimo

  35. granata says:

    Stayed in the Washington Square Hotel a couple of months ago – great location. Try the Four Faced Liar (Morrissey’s favourite) and the Blind Tiger round the corner. A last day vinyl haul comprised Costello, Paul Young, The Cars, Elton John, The Passage and Scott Walker

  36. Galley says:

    $19.99 for an hour of Wi-Fi? I usually play around $8.00 for the entire day.

  37. Ed says:

    As someone else mentioned, if you’re schlepping to Princeton, then you really need to stop at Vintage Vinyl in Fords NJ, on the way there or back. You won’t be disappointed.

  38. Bert says:

    “This being US network television, they destroyed the humour in the “I want a fucking car, right fucking now… ” scene by editing all the ‘fucks’ out of it!”

    Back in the 1980s (and even early 1990s) the BBC often broadcast censored versions of movies, e.g. Beverly Hills Cop with Eddie Murphy saying “fudge” etc.

    Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were often edited (for violence) when broadcast at 19h and you had to wait for the Friday night repeat (after Newsnight IIRC) to watch the unedited version.

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