Record-digging has been a lifelong obsession for me. Of course, there’s the promise of stumbling upon amazing music at each turn: a lost regional gem, or even a rare jam from a well-known artist. That carrot of discovery has been dangling in front of me for the last twenty years.
But, there are other aspects of the digging experience that resonate with me, too. I’m always on the lookout for those far-removed record shops. You know, the ones that seem like time (and the Internet) forgot. These hole-in-the-wall stores are almost always filled with the kinds of quirky obsessives that persist trading in rare and used vinyl, and I generally guard their exact coordinates closely. After all, as a hip-hop producer, I’m always looking for fresh material to sample, and spots that have been combed over by other producers tend not to yield magic as easily. Besides, it’s just part of the culture to be competitive about these things, and I happily engage.
Anyway, there are record shops in deep Southwest Philly, and way up in the Northeast that I simply won’t talk about. But, if you’re not already up on “Lively” Val Shively’s Philadelphia-area record shop, then I’ll throw you a bone. After all, Shively is already a world-renown collector of soul music, and his Upper Darby-based R&B Records outpost is no big secret. Still, Val is a positively eccentric guy, and his store is a remarkable time capsule of Philadelphia culture worth knowing. Dig.
– Lushlife aka Raj Haldar