Listen to "I'm Just a Guy" Get the whole 20-track collection here. As I said yesterday, I spent a good portion of my Sunday this week up on White Plains Road in the Bronx, where I plucked a number of fabulous items from a Nigerian drug store and a couple of black music focused record/CD/cassette stores.
Today's selection was found at Millennium Records (4045 White Plains Road), the last place I visited before hopping on the train back home to Astoria. I asked the guy behind the counter, Pablo, who seemed like the owner of the place, how well the store was doing and was happily surprised when he told me that he does a pretty brisk business.
"We have a few white guys who come up here for the records; we sell a lot of those," he told me. "And the current R&B section is very, very popular." The majority of CDs he had for sale were from the Caribbean or the U.S.--at least, so I thought. "Many of these," he said, pointing to an area of what looked like ska and reggae, "are actually from overseas; London."
"And they sell?" I asked. "Oh, yes," he said, smiling. It was not a long conversation but, I have to say, it was one of the most life-affirming I've had in recent memory. Imagine! A music store that is actually doing brisk business. And providing a real cultural service for the community that surrounds it. I picked up the Alton Ellis he had, as well as another CD that I will likely post in the next week or so. Alton Ellis, aka "The Godfather of Rocksteady," started his career as a singer in 1959 as one half of the duo Alton and Eddy (the other half being Eddy Perkins). After scoring a couple of hits, Perkins moved to the U.S., leaving Alton in Kingston, where he found work as a printer. When he lost his job, he took up music again in earnest, initially working with others as part of a group or duo. This retrospective CD (from 1999) begins with Alton's first solo recordings in 1967 and follows his career for another seven or so years--the latest track here is from 1974. If you like it, stick around; I'll be posting a number of things this week and next that I found on White Plains Road yesterday.
Soon after I moved to New York City in 1997 I began to notice that bodegas run by people from around the world sometimes stocked CDs and DVDs of music and film from the countries they had come from.
The music I've collected from these bodegas can almost never be found in the "World Music" sections of the few remaining places to buy CDs in the U.S.; nor, for that matter on iTunes (or cheapo MP3 sites like Soundike).
If you are an artist or publisher and do not want your music here, just let me know and I'll remove it.