In Search of true Soul… I discovered my own!

I would like to introduce you to love… My love of records! I guess you could say it all started as a youngling growing up in the 70s to what now seems as like a seamless Segway of Jazz, Funk and Imported Soul which I can recollect came out to play in our household as entertainment when guests of my mother would arrive, You see My Ma has taste! (always has!) from Nat King Cole, to Acker Bilk, from BT Express to Fatback the Album covers were paraded with pride like a 12 by 12” window to a persons very Soul.

It was the Star Wars album that invited my young mind to use my own imagination to let the audio consume my thoughts and feed my senses to be at one with the pulsating monophonic sound and as I often drifted off to a galaxy far far away replaying the score over and over! It was not long before I was gazing between the audio visual delights of Gatefold LPs Like Night Fever Car Wash and thank god it’s Friday.

I have never forgot the time I snuck on a Millie Jackson live album rated X that turned more than my downside blue…when my mum found out! If these Albums were the windows to the very Soul..I opened them! climbed through, and let go! And once I started playing o fall… I fell into an orbit like a needle on a record… and have not stopped Spinning since.

Some three plus decades in having sailed through the furthest reaches of my mind, to travel across the country that has fed my young mind and imagination since I was introduced to television since the early 1970s. These iconic landscapes the fed our minds through television and cinema whether it be the mean streets of NYC, the landscapes of the lawless badlands of the Midwest, to the cascading hill top streets of San Francisco. The United States has entertained my mind for what seems a lifetime….and my soul is no exception. I guess this is my story of how we conquered the States from east to west, one record store at a time, on a trip we called….The Vinyl Voyage.

Star-date September 12th 2016

Chicago international airport, Alamo quick rental pickup unfortunately did not live up to its reputation, as after a series of errors presenting us with vehicles that we deemed not cool enough for the arduous task ahead of driving across the expanse of the United States, we were finally introduced to the GMC 8 seater Premium SUV which was later given a more fitting name of truck-o-saurous, this vehicle was a beast! It was not only big, black and beautiful (like?) but Brand spanking new! Full digital display and check this…fitted with a Bose stereo that once owned through equalising kicked like a mother! We even helped the now sweating brother who really had to earn his commission this day ironically looked like a cross between Rick James and the My ding-a-ling Chappie that’s it little Richard straight hair sparingly spread which I noticed thinned drastically as my polite demands for perfection slowly took its toll in the Chicago heat.We peeled off the protective film that covered the dash…Andy had a smile from ear to ear and as we finally left the ‘port and headed along the 8 lane freeway towards the glistening skyscrapers of the city’s centre. I tried to capture a shot of a freeway sign that was highlighting how many deaths that there had been on roads this year so far! Even though I missed the shot the numbers were sadly not single nor double figures! Something told me that this mission was going to unlock far more than just stats? Something also told me that searching the mother land for Music one state at a time, One record store at a time! would introduce us to the true DNA of this nation…were we ready! We will have to be! This isn’t our manor anymore! and for the next three weeks we are going to be on our toes and need to be savvy with it! Bopping our way across this great nation one state at a time not knowing what lies ahead is so exciting!

Yes you must know what’s coming next? just like my favourite film by Walter Hill from 79 The Warriors, how cool is this to actually be about to live out the ultimate excursion… My gang consists of only one more delegate, A man I trust like no other! Tooled up (armed) only with the ultimate weapon of choice! Money… which we hope will speak in any local dialect we need,

Next stop downtown Chicago… The Windy City.



Star-date September 13th 2016

After finding out that actually we were not staying in downtown Chicago but uptown in a place I can place

on par with Central Park west in NY or Londons Park lane…but to my surprise this place was lively, an actual hub of life, which came alive mid afternoon and did not stop until the early hrs, again reminiscent of both ends of Broadway, We even had a Carmines, my favourite restaurant in Manhattan on 90th broadway, right across the street from our mainstay the upmarket Thompson Hotel belle view place, our hotel room even had pictures of record players and vinyl above our beds, how apt is that…

The excitement of hitting the streets in the hope of finding some killer cuts was quite overwhelming the mornings end of the 13th of September, armed with google maps our searches had served us up a treat of record stores all within a few miles of our geo-location, with truck-o-saurous parked up for the duration of our stay we hot footed it towards the infamous Reckless reckless who had no less than three stores in town.

The walk into the city centre was such a laugh as you can imagine acting exactly as to dorks took in the sites and landmarks of the city as we neared its hot bed.

Reckless Records



As we neared the infamous sign of Reckless on E. Madison Street we had just climbed back down to reality of of the back of seeing the Overhead train lines that was instantly recognisable famed for the scenes with Carrie, Princess Leia Fisher and a Bazooka aiming at the infamous Jake and Elwood also known as the Legendary Blues Brothers! This location also featured in numerous pile ups…Classic! Speaking of classics! Remind me to tell you after this store visit about one of many new happenings that will be sure to become a modern classic in years to come.



After a few hrs crate flicking unlocking some fabulous finds, including some slightly overpriced Blaxploitation movie soundtracks,We traversed with the store staff as the counter on both sides literally stopped trading. We told the mission itinerary that we were on a Pilgrimage (choice word I might add! Jake and Elwood inspired I guess) across their great nation, one state at a time, from East to West coast in search of liquid gold, one store at a time. I must fast forward my thoughts quickly to explain that this level of engagement was received every time we told the same story right up until San-Fran leaving me with no doubt that Americans do not travel their own country, talk about the Globe! We in turn left Reckless Records having had one of the best record store visits in my history of collecting whilst we were on a Vinyl Voyage, and in this day there was another destination on our radar, it was across town and I was agreed that before we engage…..Refreshment was needed, like we needed an excuse! Little did we know that this watering hole would offer some welcomed advise from an unlikely source.

The Chicago Incident

IMG_0009Just how did I manage to be looking up at the Chicago scrapers from The paving slabs! Yes, the actual floor…. I guess I better explain!

Whilst in transit searching for a decent bar to get a beer, it seemed like we were coasting along the busy high street swinging our haul of records beaming ear to ear. We had just been reflecting our last encounter in the store and was wondering could this be the theme throughout our trip… for some reason I had managed to be in front of Andy most probably now in my own world, Maybe I saw bar?…or something else?? who knows! but this distance set the stage, I guess, for what he was about to tell me would literally knock me off my feet!

I turned suddenly hearing Andy roared with laughter! and after a short while he was able to compose himself enough to re-enact the stage for the scene that I had just missed! Thanks to his near perfect impersonation of Rasputia, a larger than life fictional female character created and performed by no other than Eddie Murphy for one of his many funny movies named Norbit, I would not only be able to experience what I had missed! But I would hear it in the exact tone that Andy had both heard and seen it played out to perfection…Sorry sister ladies but this sure was funny!

I needed this to be in Andy’s own words for authenticity and invited him to write the paragraph coming up! Includes a Soundbite click here to relive the moment that I missed!

As already explained we were in hunt of an afternoon watering hole. And that’s when it happened. A moment in history that two mates will talk about in years to come and laugh as hard as if it had just happened! Wayne was striding out in front and it was then I over heard two ladies talking to each other!

To describe the ladies as the weather girls sounds disrespectful, but if you know your 80s soul you will understand I’m talking about two ladies that lived life to the full! Great full voices and full figures to boot.

The First Lady looked Wayne up and down at least twice and grabbed her friend by the arm in shock and in the loudest and strongest Chicago accent you’d like ever heard said..
“Now that’s the kinda man I’d like” Her friend took her look and said nothing apart from the sound “Mmm Hmmmmm” as if a large serving of Hickory smoked fried chicken and gravy had just arrived (Hope I ain’t the plate!!) This was beyond a doubt one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It’s also fair to say when I’d stopped laughing and told my mate his stride got a little bigger and his bowl just a little wider!

Call it the moment that everything good had culminated together on this day, The sheer happiness of actually living the trip of dreams! or the utter childishness of two grown men having a laugh…. but my legs actually gave way!
We laughed and laughed as Andy repeatedly played out the scene “Now that’s the kinda man I like!” Became one of many running jokes to be replayed time and time again….all this as Chicago folks walked on by as the summer heat bore down.

The Fountain of Grooves

We found a bar lounge shortly after and two brews were quickly exhumed with haste, and it was not too long before the question was asked to the barman about any local records stores other than Reckless, from whom we explained that we had just relieved of its finest cuts, (showing my haul with glee), the now animated gent came to life enlightening of his colourful past as a Disc jockey! But also of his love of rare records, mainly funk and early hip hop. If this chap was the wizard of the Windy City then his wand was spreading record dust along the bar, as more gents lunching at the bar joined this now great record store debate!

Our next destination was mentioned as our next obvious choice! Famed for specialising in funk n Soul this store was the stand out next destination for our Downtown Get down, the only catch was it was on the other side of the City, and we were warned that it was a trek of a cab ride….. A timely response reminded our source that we were on a pilgrimage! A tip of the Day ensued as we departed.

Next Stop – Dust Free Grooves

IMG_0011IMG_0010Bearing in mind the strength of the pound to the dollar! This trip across town would have been usually considered reasonable for the distance that we had just bopped across Chicago’s downtown..But just shy of £50 dollars to check out a record store that was recommended moments prior could have been an expensive gamble!
Fortunately the store not only looked open, but had a neon illuminating Soul n Funk which beamed upcoming joy our way as we pulled up in a windy cab! (Not Uber!) steady Mr B? Remember folks Andy’s a Knight of Londons road… a Black Taxi driver! Nuff said,
A photo cpp ensued as we entered the store with the perception that this store might be a tad ding! I released my breath with caution as the store became widely visible to our pleasant surprise the record shop was in Mint condition .

A nice airy well thought out layout with a mixture of wood and exposed brick surrounded us peppered with perfectly positioned music moments and album art..Street posters to tee-shirts n goods for sale as we moved like a pair of Lions who have manoeuvred in sync just spotting our prey and today’s catch was a tasty batch of records….
Moments later we struck and we were merciless.

A fine selection of quality albums were consumed as it was not long before a pile began to spire, the now traditional splitting up and occasionally glancing up to acknowledge each others impending Glee is now standard with us, almost like we don’t want to miss each others magic moment when that definitive record is found, You know the one that has eluded us for decades, I don’t have many! but i had a few prior to the trip! and know i just had one less as i lifted an LP that i have sought since 1984, The Band KoKo Pop could it feature the track that i hold so dear! Im In love with you that was released on Motown records that i have on 12” but not the album! As i slowly revealed the reverse of the cover, I paused momentarily as i scanned the listens and then ………. Pow Yeeeeessssssss bellowed out across the store… I felt joy and excitement as we spent the next 2 hrs repeating the same action Jeff Lorber Fusion Lp called Galaxian was also added and a couple of unrecognisable Carl Anderson LPs were endorsed.

IMG_0012Our checkout experience was very unique as the staff which earlier seemed very distant to our prompts for assistance had now awakened to the now preacher like speech of how the Voyage came to be and the mission at hand, the staff were blown away and offered some stickers and banners to be placed within the bob, Yes Box that they sealed your haul in to perfection, Never have i seen second hand vinyl prepared with such dignity and grace.

We were blown away as we left the store to hail a taxi back to our hotel, when we arrived one more picture would capture the profits off our days catch…We smashed the windy city in one day and after a well earned night out upmarket Chicago we would awake with a new destination in mind!

The second stop of our Vinyl Voyage the state of St Louis, I said to myself on this very day, are we really doing this we are trekking across the United States of America buying Gawd Damn Records, how cool my friends is that.

Chapter Two coming soon – afternoon delight.

@ Soul AM Each & Every Sunday morning - Site by WFDL