For the record, my mom volunteered to crate dig on my behalf.
It’s true! I swear!
When she’s not busy baptizin’ babies or spittin’ sermons at her day job, my mom frequents thrift stores and yard sales in search of books she can sell on Amazon. As a result, she comes into contact with used vinyl all the time, and a few weeks ago, she told me to give her a list of can’t-miss, buy-on-sight records. After counting my lucky stars for having the coolest mom around, I opened a Google doc and got to work.
I started with the half dozen or so titles I look for everywhere I go. Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. Paul Simon’s Graceland. Things I’ve either never seen in a record store or am kicking myself for not getting when I had the chance. Bands were next. The Beatles. The Band. I don’t care which album you’re talking about — if you see certain familiar faces at an estate sale where every record is going for a dollar, it’s a no-brainer. Lastly, I gave her a short list of buy-on-sight labels. Stax and Volt were #1 and #2 on that list.
When I was younger, I thought of record companies as these sky-scraping businesses that threw around money and were — in some fuzzy way — evil. (Let’s just say I watched Airheads more than once, and that Adam Sandler’s “I ain’t fartin’ on no snare drum” line is permanently etched into my memory.) But learning more about certain labels — Stax/Volt in particular — has opened my eyes in a major way. Once I found out that Booker T. and the M.G.’s were Stax’s house band for years and years, that snapping Stax logo started to mean something. It meant that there was a thread uniting all these hit songs. A story to follow. It also meant something in terms of quality. When I see Stax’s label on a record, it’s as if it’s saying “You may not have heard of this one, but it almost certainly doesn’t suck.” 12-year-old, Airheads-addled me can’t believe I’m about to say this, but it’s about trust. I’ve handed over the reigns, and I’m having a blast finding out where Stax will take me next.
Of course, this example is heavy on hindsight. We’ve had decades to collectively decide that Booker T.’s session work was legendary, so I’m not exactly taking a leap of faith by asking my mom to buy up Stax/Volt records. That’s what makes Spacebomb so exciting.
While Matthew E. White’s Richmond operation is way too young for its records to crop up at estate sales, the label’s first two releases — White’s “Big Love” single and Big Inner LP — established a baseline of quality so high that I’ve given myself a buy-on-sight order for anything with an “SB” at the beginning of its serial number. With that in mind, I wasted no time in picking up SB003 — a single by Howard Ivans of the Rosebuds/Gayngs — and I suggest you seek it out in similar haste.
This is not just a pair of masterfully arranged and understatedly funky songs. It’s history — and trust — in the making. I often wonder what it would have been like to experience classic albums when they first came out, so I can’t tell you how excited I am to be experiencing Spacebomb’s successes in real time, record by record. In his recent interview with Consequence of Sound, White shared the following thought:
I think Richmond has special things going on. Not just because I’m saying that, or others are saying that. It’s real. There’s special musicians there and special music coming out of that place. For me, just being there, in a special place in history, is very cool.
I couldn’t agree more.
Check out the A- and B-sides of Howard Ivans’ new single below, click here to buy the 7-inch and, if you’re not a vinyl person, click here to buy from iTunes.
Howard Ivans — “Red Face Boy” [Spotify/iTunes]