The day the records stood still

I’ve been out in Milwaukee for the last week on a writing retreat (and visiting my wife who started her MFA in dance here this summer). I gotta say, its a gem of a town. Great music, art, dance and…records. In my typical style, I had to seek out the dankest, darkest, deepest piles. Along the way, I wound up at Flipville Records where I spent the better part of two days digging til my hands turned black. Aside from the somewhat high prices for standard stuff, there are lots of gems to be found here. I was particularly excited by the boxes of soul 45s that seemed like no one had looked them over in years. I took care of that.

I simply flipped when I found this holy grail of a record for a buck.

Flipville gold

Despite thinking lots about whether early hip-hop djs were rockin this 45 (and if so how) I had never seen or heard the original pressing (though it was obviously high on my “want” list). Needless to say, I flipped on Sunday when it titrated out of the piles at Flipville. Sure, its scratched a bit, but for a buck, hell yeah!

As luck would have it, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee has some 70K records (I’m meeting their archivist music librarian tomorrow to talk shop). So I went directly there to listen.

Beat research

As I sat intently waiting for the break, I was marveling over the fact that this iconic jam was split up on two sides of the 45. I was imagining teenage dancers in the heat of some impromptu dance party stopping to flip the record right in the middle of it (did some keep on shaking it while the DJ flipped the wax?). So funny/analog. Side one passed with no break. Flip. Then, just as my hope was wearing out (along with my memory cause I couldn’t quite remember how deep in the track it came), there it was, on the very last grooves of side two. It seemed so odd that the break that became one of the most sampled in all of history appeared almost like a coda on this original pressing. Amazing how retrospective sensemaking works (and also record karma). I had to think that I was doing something right cause the record gods were sure smiling on me today.