So, I had a proper treat on Friday night. As anyone who buys records in the North West of England will know, Vinyl Exchange on Oldham Street, Manchester is a pretty much as good as it gets for digging. If it wasn’t for Discogs and Youtube, I probably would have struggled to find as much as I have about classic New York house over the past year, but the internet will never substitute what you can learn from going in to a good record shop and speaking to the experts. When it comes to classic house music, it’s a brave man or woman that would claim greater expertise than Vinyl Exchange’s Russell Marland.
Some time last year, I was introduced to Russ at a party by a friend from up here in Hebden Bridge (thanks as always Chris!). This led to a very long and excitable chat about classic New York house records and how much great stuff had been overlooked.
Russell told me how, from 1986, he had worked behind the counter at Manchester’s legendary Spin Inn and saw US house music storm the UK at first hand. As Greg Wilson pointed out in this 2011 post on his blog:
“Spin Inn in Manchester was the premier record shop in the North of England when it came to dance music. If you had any aspirations of being taken seriously as a black music specialist, you had no option but to shop there. There was nowhere outside of London that could compare when it came to stocking the latest imports.”
During the next 5 years spent behind the counter, Russ had listened to practically every US import that came into the shop. More than that – and this is where I started to get really excited – his insatiable appetite for house music had driven him to pick a copy of practically every decent record for his own collection! The history of house music was just up the road, stacked floor to ceiling in his living room! (and his dining room) (and his basement…) There was only one thing for it, I was going to have to come round some time and see what we could find.
So on Friday night, Russ’ mate Craig (aka Cosmic Spacedog, partner in crime at Hebden new age and folk night Duende) and I popped round for a history lesson. We could easily have been there til sunrise, but I was on a bit of a deadline, so for this first instalment we got as far as about early 1989. As expected, Russ picked out some absolute gold, so here’s a selection – hope you like em too!