Crate Digging 101 Lesson 7: Genre Overview

Record stores break it down by genre, and we break it down even more.

First year crate diggers will notice most record stores have divided up the vinyl into different style categories. Usually they’re broken down into groupings of  Rock/Pop, Soul, Jazz, Blues, Folk, etc. Some have Hip Hop and Alternative or New Wave bins as well. I personally prefer newly released, sealed albums separated from the used albums.  

The Rock/Pop and Soul categories are usually the largest. These usually have records from the late 50’s up to present day (most likely the most recent being from the 90’s when CDs took over and LPs were no longer produced on a massive scale). I like to have a few gems in mind as I move through the bins that I am in search of.  It’s a crate digger’s dream to find a specific gem when searching for it. Recently I found a copy of the magnificent Elephant Mountain LP by the Youngbloods in good condition for only a couple of bucks. Only a true Crate Digger would make it all the way to the X through Z Rock/Pop bin to uncover such a find. But on the same search I discovered another interesting record, by a gypsy looking hippie chick named Goldie Zelkowitz. It was also only a few bucks, but I seldom take a chance on an unknown without doing a little research on-line.

The best online resource is the All Music Guide web site. It has great artist profiles and discographies, which include a 0 to 5 star rating system. This is a very reliable information source, I recommend it for all Crate Diggers. But, if that search comes up empty, (which it does about half the time searching more obscure musicians), I would simply Google the name of the band, with the LP title.  

As it turns out, Goldie Zelkowitz is actually Genya Ravan, the former lead singer of British soul rockers Ten Wheel Drive.  They put out some great horn driven rock albums in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some of their jams are downright funky, and well worth digging  for.  And Genya Ravan released her Urban Desire album in the late 70’s which included a rollicking duet with Lou Reed called "Aye Colorado." But the album under her original name (she was born in Poland) in 1973, eponymously titled "Goldie Zelkowitz," is the jam. There is some hard rockin’ funk in these grooves, so I highly recommend grabbing it while digging through the X through Z bin.  

Soul music tends be dominated by great singers. In the Soul bins, I recommend seeking anything by Martha Reeves, Margie Joseph or Millie Jackson as far as female vocalists go. Great male singers like Billy Paul, Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield put out mostly great records. The great Soul bands like Parliament/ Funkadelic, Isley Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone and Booker T & The MGs never put out duds either. Speaking of making it all the way to the W through Z bin, Zapp is a funk outfit like no other. Led by the late great singer and guitarist extrordinare Roger Troutman, Zapp had that 80’s slap bass funk beat down for some genuine booty shakin’ jams! Zapp 1, Zapp 2 & Zapp 3 all contain some righteous cuts. And Roger Troutman (whose groundbreaking use of the vocoder “voice box” led to some onstage shocks, hence the group’s name came from actually getting zapped!) has some great solo LP’s to be on the look out for as well. 

But some real cross-genre treasures can be in either the Soul or Blues bins, depending on the record store clerk’s mood and/or mindset. One to look for in either the Blues or Soul bin is the laid back pscyh funk groover by Shuggie Otis. Shuggie is often dumped into the Blues bin because his dad, Johnny Otis, was a famous jump blues band leader, and Shuggie started out with him as a teenager. They did a couple of real cooking LPs together (with Big Mouth Evans on lead vocals), also worth digging for.

But the Holy Grail is Shuggie’s Inspiration Information album from 1973. It is one of the all time greats, with Shuggie doing his original version of "Strawberry Letter 23", (later funkified for a huge dancefloor hit by the Brothers Johnson, and inspired Prince’s "Raspberry Beret"). Any Shuggie Otis records, whether found in Soul or Blues, are guaranteed to satisfy. 

Another cross genre classic to look for is Accept No Substitutes by Pleasure. Pleasure is a band usually in the Soul bins, but sometimes can be found in Jazz, because their music is mostly instrumental, and their label. Fantasy, is better known for jazz. There are definite jazz overtones and tasty licks aplenty. Pleasure had a dance floor hit with "Glide" in 1979, but the mid 70’s records, (like Accept No Substitues, Dust Yourself Off, andJoyous) are the real deal, so dig through the Jazz and Soul bins in search of them.

Posted by Prof Louzlounge on Sep 03, 2010 @ 7:07 am