Another new feature for 2016: Going to do a better job of reporting back about the out-of-town record stores I check out. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Davy, this is just an excuse to work record shopping into the trips you and Mrs. YHT take.”
I have only one response to that accusation.
Let’s start in the Big Easy, where Mrs. YHT and I spent three nights two weeks ago. Taking a trip right before Christmas, one of the most stressful times of the year, may seem a little crazy, and it felt a little crazy when we were making final preparations, but it was awesome. Relaxing, even. We went to a Saints game, ate beignets every morning, walked around the French Quarter a bunch — hand-in-hand, booze-in-hand — and we even got to stop in a few record stores.
We hit three, and while one was atrocious (going to let that one go unnamed), two were excellent. They were:
What a selection. A ton of new vinyl, lots of used to flip through, a generous New Orleans section for tourists like me, and an upstairs jazz collection that I barely even scratched the surface of. I could have spend half a day there. We were there for a solid hour before Mrs. YHT — very reasonably, it should be said — shot off the “Hey, we’ve been here a while…” flare.
The person at the counter was extremely friendly when chatting with other customers (OK, so I have a habit of eavesdropping while flipping through records), and he was nice enough to give me a media mailer to keep my two acquisitions safe on the flight home. Those acquisitions:
tUnE-yArDs — Nikki Nack (used, $8)
I passed on getting this when tUnE-yArDs came to the National earlier this year, though I did pick up a few other items. One was this “Water Fountain” 45. I love “Water Fountain” (I’ve embedded the Song Exploder episode about it below), and the 45’s B-side is a Nikki Nack supercut, which started out as fun but gradually made me regret not getting the actual album. Very glad to have gotten a second chance at it. While Discogs says the $8 price point is normal for this pressing — translucent red vinyl! — it still felt like a steal.
Song Exploder 38: tUnE-yArDs
Soul Jazz Records — New Orleans Funk, Volume 1 (new, $32)
Had a minor panic attack trying to decide which volume in this series to get, because they all looked excellent. This is the side of funk I enjoy most — the earliest takes on the genre that linger closer to blues and soul. It wasn’t cheap, but the three discs pack in a ton of great stuff. The day after we got back to Richmond, I had this on from about 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. straight, just cycling through the sides and feeling funky as hell. Looking forward to checking out volumes 2 and 3 (3 is actually on Spotify).
The Meters — “Hand Clapping Song” [Spotify/iTunes]
Just a block or two away from our hotel in the French Quarter. So often, stores that are close to the main tourist drag are crap, but I loved Skully’z. It’s tiny — you’d probably measure its footprint in square inchage instead of footage — and that’s definitely part of its charm.
You have to work together with the other patrons to make the best of the space, and I got this neat, “We’re all on the same team” vibe while I was in there. Way more fun than the “I’m terrified and we need to walk away very quickly” vibe I got when we stopped in front of the LaLaurie House on the way back to our hotel.
Snagged two things:
Professor Longhair —Hadacol Bounce (new, $23)
This was part of the store’s New Orleans section, and I was immediately drawn to the cover art. How badass does Professor Longhair look there? I mean c’mon. Baby YHT actually demands to stare at this record, because she loves the photo so much. It’s a German pressing, and as far as I can tell, it’s still not on Discogs, though I do see an Icelandic pressing. The person behind the counter (also very friendly — almost everyone we met in New Orleans was) said it had just come out the week before.
Not sure if this is the exact right version, but here’s “East St Louis Baby,” which is a dead ringer for Longhair classic “Go To The Mardis Gras.”
Professor Longhair — “East St Louis Baby” [YouTube]
The Shouting Matches — Grownass Man (new, $17)
Found this in the very last bin I was going to look through. I love this album, and I’d been keeping an eye out for it — with no luck — since it came out in 2013. Which is funny, because the person I talked to (Skully himself?) said they’d done really well with it and sold a bunch when it first came out. Seems strangely appropriate that I found it in New Orleans. There’s a bluesy looseness to Grownass Man that reminds me of the atmosphere there. Maybe I’m manufacturing a connection. Either way, it was on my Phil Cook appreciation bucket list, and it may have been the find of the trip. That or Le Big Mac at Cochon Butcher. Holy crap, y’all. Life changing.
The Shouting Matches — “Avery Hill” [Spotify/iTunes]