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SDE New York diary: Day three


SDE Editor, Paul Sinclair, is in New York 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…


Day 3 / ‘Black’ Friday 27 November

Yesterday was something of a dress rehearsal, but today was fantastic because New York ‘woke up’ after the Thanksgiving holiday and everything was open!

An SDE reader (thanks Mark) had pointed out that there was a good record shop literally two minutes around the corner from my hotel in The Village and it was great that he did because I could easily have missed Disc-O-rama. For a start, the signage only works if you’re a giraffe, it’s far too high up with a big blank space below, and the window ‘display’ doesn’t scream ‘record shop’ with its references to Ticketmaster and the Lottery etc. Admittedly there is mention of DVDs and CDs, but it looks a bit like a newsagent from a distance.

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Anyway, it’s not a newsagent and it turned out to be a wonderful experience. The store has been open since 1975 which is amazing and once I’d introduced myself as a world famous music blogger (I’m joking) Manager Gloria Chan was charming and very helpful.

In fact, here’s the exciting bit, because I did my first Periscope ‘live broadcast’ from Disc-O-Rama yesterday morning. I have to say Periscope is brilliant and I really enjoyed showing those of you that tuned in around the shop and responding ‘live’ to the text comments that the audience can send. I don’t think there is a way to embed previous broadcasts on the web (as yet) so if you do want to watch a replay of the Disc-O-Rama Periscope then you’ll need to download the app onto your device and look for @sdediton. I’ve got a feeling the replays only stay live for 24 hours, so apologies if it has gone by the time you read this…

Disc-O-Rama was participating in Record Store Day and had a good selection in a locked cabinet on the shop floor. I bought the Say Say Say 12-inch, Bohemian Rhapsody, the Beck single and Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight.

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Incidentally, I can confirm that Say Say Say is a heavyweight clear vinyl pressing with inner sleeve and it comes with a download card, so you will get the hitherto unavailable remastered version of the instrumental remix of Say Say Say in a digital format. Predictably the download files are just MP3s.

Disc-O-Rama has a wide selection of used vinyl upstairs with lots of collectibles in various cabinets (including old RSD stock). I’d already bought my records and was all set to leave when I thought I’d have another ‘quick’ look down in the basement where I’d previously had a quick look for the Periscope video. A good hour later I emerged with a load more vinyl. They have a tremendous section of pop/dance 12-inches from the 1970s and ’80s so it was quite hard to leave! For example no one ever told me that Patti Austin covered Alison Moyet’s Honey For The Bees (I might have to go back to get that, because I listened to it on YouTube and it’s quite good).

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Patti Austin / Honey For The Bees 12″ in die-cut sleeve

IMAG3780They had Terence Trent D’Arby‘s This Side of Love 12-inch with a different sleeve which I would probably have bought if the track listing had offered something unique and a Frankie Goes To Hollywood Two Tribes 12-inch with what was probably a rare ‘speech bubble’ sticker with Lenin proclaiming “Frankie Is The Most Important Thing In The World!”.

I DID buy a sealed Deborah Harry 12-inch of Sweet and Low which has five versions of the song, a 12-inch promo of the EurythmicsI Need A Man (which boasts an alternate cover and includes a rare edit), a 12-inch of Thomas Dolby‘s Hot Sauce, a vinyl copy of the She’s Having A Baby soundtrack (complete with Kate Bush‘s This Women’s Work) and a promo 12-inch of Duran Duran‘s Electric Barbarella (featuring All Fired Up Mix and Bonus Beats and edit).

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Me and Disc-O-Rama manager Gloria Chan (I don’t know why she’s holding up Eazy-E!)

I’d been in Disc-O-Rama for ages, so time to head off somewhere else. To Bleecker Street Records actually which confusingly is no longer in Bleecker Street, having relocated to West 4th Street a couple of years back. Disc-O-Rama had been very quiet but BSR, as I will refer to them from now on, was bigger and busier. Only a bit though, and one observation from today is that the Black Friday Record Store Day isn’t anything like the one in April. No queues, no mad panic to grab the rarity you are after. It’s very easy to pick up anything on the RSD list. It’s also interesting to note that bootleg recordings are prevalent in secondhand record shops in New York. I personally find it quite tedious when looking at used CDs having to flick through masses of these ‘unofficial’ releases with their dodgy artwork, but it’s a miracle that half these shops are still here, so I guess no one is bothered about ‘clamping down’ on such activity!

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Bleecker Street Records

I’ll be honest and say BSR didn’t do it for me. It’s hard to articulate, why but I didn’t like the vibe of the place too much, the prices for used CDs were very high and although the owner let me film a Periscope video (not as good as the one I did earlier in the day) he wasn’t the friendliest. They did have all their Record Store Day stock out and had a wider selection that Disc-O-Rama, but it was pricier. The Say Say Say 12-inch was two or three dollars more, for example. I still bought a couple of records though: The Cardigans’ Long Gone Before Daylight reissue (a favourite album of mine – no, I don’t have the SACD!) and the Falco Rock Me Amadeus coloured vinyl seven-inch.

The highlight of the day was popping around the corner to the unassuming Record Runner. 

Outside Record Runner with owner John Pita

I loved this place, since it specialised in 1980s pop, and in particular Duran Duran, a-ha, Tears For Fears, Madonna etc. Luckily (for me) it was very quiet because I chatted to owner John Pita for at least an hour about music. He has run the shop for 37 years and did a brisk trade in the early years selling British and Japanese imports. He was a very early champion of Duran Duran and some of the staff went out with the three Taylors in the very early years when no one knew who Duran Duran were. There is still loads of really interesting stock in the shop and John offered to go ‘out the back’ and bring out even more Duran Duran rarities (the shop is relatively small).

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The Freewheelin’ Paul Sinclair…

freewheelinRecord Runner is located on Greeenwich Village’s Jones Street, location of the famous cover shot of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I have no shame, so when John offered to take my photo posing with album cover in hand, in more or less the exact location that Bob and his girlfriend Suze Rotolo were standing, I wasn’t going to say no!

The shop is very much part of the community and David who now runs the Rebel Rebel record shop used to work there. As did Lori Majewski, who went on to co-write that Mad World book.

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Inside Record Runner

I said goodbye to John and by this time I was famished since it was mid-afternoon and I’d not eaten since breakfast. That would be it for independent record stores for one day, but lots more to see tomorrow.

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Later, I would stop off at Barnes & Noble on Union Square just to see what music they carried. The shop is similar to the old Borders and they have a reasonable selection of CDs and vinyl, including some exclusive McCartney vinyl editions of the Tug of War and Pipes of Peace reissues that come with seven-inch singles. I wasn’t tempted, but did pick up a couple of those Disney Legacy editions (Toy Story and Mary Poppins) which form part of the Legacy Collection box set and Neko Case‘s Blacklisted on orange vinyl.

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

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25 responses to SDE New York diary: Day three

  1. Daran says:

    Save some money Paul for the chartered 747 you will need to haul all your loot back home !

  2. eric slangen says:

    Very tempting to read this all Paul, very tempting.

  3. gb says:

    funny you said that Paul, the few times I went in B.ST recs (old location) they were never super-friendly either. I kinda liked the bootlegs being mixed with everything else though (I just never expected it) and bought quite a few ;) … love the Disc-o-rama pic, you look so happy. am loving reading your NY adventures. thanks for telling us all about it … oh yeah, what WERE the Duran Duran rarities he went to fetch?!!

    • Straker says:

      However unfriendly they were in BSR I can’t imagine they were even close to the miserable sods who staff the Music and Video Exchange in Notting Hill, London. Rudeness elevated to an artform!

      Paul, are you gonna declare all that vinyl as you re-enter Blighty or just chance it? Green Channel for me every time! ;)

  4. Lanny says:

    So glad you are enjoying your trip. And also glad to see there are at least a few real music shops left out there… just no where near me. :(

  5. David says:

    If you have the time and transportation, you should check out Vintage Vinyl in Fords NJ. It is located off exit 130 on the NJ Parkway south.
    It is a great store and rare finds are still there.

  6. JAMES says:

    Paul
    I’m surprised that you are surprised by the “unofficial releases”. NY in general is very light when compared to TX, CA, CO, etc
    J

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      In the UK in the days of loads of second-hand record shops it was quite rare to see bootlegs, because they would be breaking the law and it was taken quite seriously I think.

  7. Scott says:

    I used to do mail order with Record Runner in the mid-late 80s based on their ads in Star Hits magazine, all of which I still have. Can’t say I had the best of luck. Packages were often delayed, taking weeks to ship. And once they even replaced one of my Cure items (Boys Don’t Cry 12″) with another (the then-brand new release Why Can’t I Be You 12″) because the one I ordered and had confirmed available via telephone was now gone. That didn’t work because I already had that one! I did get most of my Depeche Mode UK 12″ and 7″ singles from them at the time as well.

  8. baward says:

    This Woman’s Work, not This Women’s Work :-) Good to hear you are mining such a rich seam of music.

  9. Tony Brescia says:

    Hi Paul, the cover photo for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was actually shot on Jones Street. Jones Street is kind of like NYC’S answer to Abbey Road. Many people (Myself Included) have done the same thing as you and had their picture taken in the middle of the street. I know that if I ever get to come to London, I will have my picture taken walking across Abbey Road. Glad you were able to secure some great items in the Village. Enjoy the rest of your stay in NYC. If you do go to Forlini’s, let me know what you think. Tony

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Tony. Have corrected to Jones St…Not sure where I got ‘Hope’ from?! Didn’t make it to Forlini’s in the end…maybe next time!

  10. Jesse Light says:

    Did you happen to notice Electric Ladyland Studios a few doors down from Disc-O-Rama!?

  11. Tony Brescia says:

    Hi Paul, if you have time and want to get something else at Barnes and Noble, you can log onto their website, B&N.com and find a 30% off coupon for one item. You should be able to use it directly from your phone. After all the deal alerts you’ve given us, it’s the least I can do. Tony

  12. Tony Brescia says:

    Hi Paul, Correction, the correct address for the website is bn.com or barnesandnoble.com. My apologies.

  13. Robert says:

    Im surprised that seeing bootleg recordings for sale in London was rare. I live in the Tampa, Florida area and in the 1990’s-2000’s it seemed every mom and pop store sold bootleg cds. I still see them from time to time although not as common as I use to. Some stories literally carried hundreds of titles- all the great KTS/Crystal Cat/ Great Dane titles from back then.

  14. Eduardo says:

    Hi, Paul! I’ve seen some folks at ebay selling a say say say cd single with the same cover of the 12″. Have you seen this arounh ny? Have a nice trip

  15. André says:

    Hey, Paul, I was wondering if you would consider a section on your rather awesome website where good second hand vinyl / independent record shops can be found in different cities/countries around the world. With so many people here offering expert advice on where to find these places, it would be cool to have a sub-section where people could list current shops (they change so frequently) and how good they are. If I ever go to New Yoke one day, I’d love to visit the shops you’ve been to, but I would have never known about them if you hadn’t mentioned them in your bog. As a collector I’m always searching for new places when I go travelling (or even to London ‘up the road’) so having a one-place-stop to locate these places would be awesome. What do you think, huh?

  16. Pingback:SDE New York diary: Day Four | superdeluxeedition

  17. Mike says:

    So what were those Duran rarities then Paul?

  18. Eric says:

    Am enjoying your American excursion greatly! It’s like shopping for music without having to leave home, or spend any money (saying that, those are the best things about looking for stuff).

    Record Runner sounds like my dream store.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks Eric. Yes, you’d love Record Runner. I feel bad, because I didn’t actually buy anything there. I spent too much time talking the the owner John, rather than actually looking through the CDs and vinyl.

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