The Record Exchange – photo by Mike Rengel
Yesterday, I got off work a little early from the mothership. Before heading home, I decided to partake in a favorite pastime of mine – shopping vintage retail.
My goal was to swing by South St. Louis retro store, The Future Antiques, to see if they had anything especially good. However, they were closed for the holiday. Obviously, they had more exciting plans to celebrate the New Year and were getting ready to entertain in their own way – “Mad Men” style.
After no luck there, I cruised over to The Record Exchange and ended up spending a couple of hours wading through the vinyl. This St. Louis used record store, located in a former St. Louis Public Library building, likely has the largest selection of used vinyl in town. Owner Jean Hafner is a self-proclaimed hoarder who has this shrine to music packed from floor to ceiling with records, tapes, 8-tracks, DVDs, VHS, books, stereo receivers, record players, speakers, and more!
Since I own a jukebox, my favorite part of the store is searching through the racks of 45 RPM singles in the room upstairs. Due to the sheer size and volume of the store, other collectors I’ve had conversations with about the store don’t even know that the room exists. Because there are so many LPs to sift through on the main level, the 45s upstairs tend to get overlooked unless that’s your main reason for going there.
The room is split into different areas – original ’50s and ’60s popular Rock and Roll, Country, Soul, Jazz, Pop, Christmas, picture sleeves,’70s to current popular Rock and Roll and reissues. The area is a little hard to navigate and you may have to look in 3 or 4 places before you find what you’re looking for, but a patient search can be the most rewarding when you find that diamond in the rough.
Before I left I ran into another pal, Mike, also shopping for a few gems for his record collection before heading home to celebrate the New Year. We commiserated over the fact that a newbie to vinyl record collecting could make the store a one-stop-shop for everything needed to start a first-rate record collection.
My haul mostly consisted of rhythm and blues and Northern Soul singles with a little country and rock rounding things out.
Ricky Allen – “Nothing in the World Can Hurt Me (Except You) b/w “What Do You Do” (Bright Star, 1966) A Chicago blues artist with roots in Nashville, Allen had a music career that never reached a huge following. He later ran a laundry and limousine service after his days in music.
LaVern Baker – “I Waited Too Long” b/w “You’re Teasing Me” (Atlantic, 1959) The follow-up to her hit single “I Cried a Tear,” Baker laments a love she lost to another woman after waiting too long to work it out with her old flame. An artist with this depth deserves attention.
Bobby Bare – “Detroit City” b/w “Heart of Ice” (RCA Victor, 1963) A top ten Country hit for Bare was written by Danny Dill and Mel Tillis. Now a classic country standard, the song won Bare a Grammy for Best Country & Western Recording.
Aretha Franklin – “Can’t You Just See Me” b/w “Little Miss Raggedy Ann” (Columbia, 1965) Before Jerry Wexler lured Franklin over to Atlantic, the Queen of Soul recorded for Columbia. Listening to these tracks will give a hint of what was to come a couple of years later.
Bobby Harris – “Let’s Stop Fooling Ourselves” b/w “You Wonder Why” [Promo] (Columbia, 1966)
This one is a mystery. A rare Northern soul ballad that was actually released on the Fairmount label under the name Eddie Jones. Every copy that I’ve seen online seem to be promo copies, too.
Dale Hawkins – “Susie Q” b/w “Don’t Treat Me This Way” (Checker, 1957) This rockabilly hit featuring the guitar work of James Burton later became the first hit a decade later for Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The Outsiders – “Girl In Love” b/w “What Makes You So Bad, You Weren’t Brought Up That Way”
(Capitol, 1966) [Picture Sleeve] A slow, wistful baroque pop ballad from the same Cleveland based group that had a hit with one of my favorite ’60s songs “Time Won’t Let Me.”
Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels – “Too Many Fish in the Sea & Three Little Fishies” b/w “One Grain of Sand” (New Voice, 1967) [w/ Picture Sleeve] One of the last charting singles with The Detroit Wheels, Ryder speeds up the Marvelettes Motown hit and for good measure dips back into the 1930s with a snippet of the Kay Kyser number 1 hit, “Three Little Fishies.”
Jimmy Ruffin – “I’ve Passed This Way Before” b/w “Tomorrow’s Tears” (Soul, 1966)
Jimmy Ruffin, the older brother lead singer David Ruffin of The Temptations, recorded this track on the Motown imprint as a follow-up to his stone-cold classic soul hit “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” An equally sad song with a more upbeat
Titus Turner – “Baby Girl Parts 1 & 2″ [Promo] (ATCO, 1964) On his only single for ATCO, Turner turns in a Ray Charles or James Brown style track filled with requisite crowd noise and split into two parts to cover both sides of the single. Not a hit, but a nice soulful rave-up.
When I noted on social media that I was at the store I started receiving requests to look for artists or records while I was there. I ended up picking up a copy of Fats Domino – “Poor Me” for another friend who will trade me something handmade – and no doubt cool – for my daughter, The Little Miss.
It’s good to have friends who love music like I do.
Happy New Year!