MC Taylor (Hiss Golden Messenger) on the Importance of Liner Notes
In honor of the tenth anniversary of Record Store Day, we hit up a few of our favorite musicians to find out what vinyl shopping means to them.
Hometown: Irvine, California
Based In: Durham, North Carolina
What’s your favorite record store and why?
My two go-to shops at home in Durham are Bull City Records for newer records and Carolina Soul for used records. I discovered a great shop called Cabin Floor Records in Greenville, South Carolina, in the past year on tour that was wonderful. Grimey’s in Nashville is also great, and I also really like Dandelion Records & Emporium in Vancouver, BC. All of these places just have a good feel, a way to get lost.
What were the first records you bought at your hometown record store?
TSOL’s Change Today. De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising. Eric B and Rakim’s Paid in Full. Various Run DMC albums. Probably a record by Lush. Ritual De Lo Habitual by Jane’s Addiction.
What did you learn from shopping at record stores?
I learned to follow the liner notes and credits. My whole life of listening to records has been a journey led by the names in small print on the backs of album covers. This still seems like one major blind spot with digital distribution; it’s become harder and harder to figure out exactly who plays what on records.
Before the Internet, if you were intrepid enough, you could trace a stylistic path from, say, Canned Heat’s Al Wilson to Skip James, or from Derek and the Dominoes to Bobby Whitlock. Strangely, that seems harder to do now. The paths are hidden in the overabundance of information.
A long time ago, a friend of mine told me to buy any record that Reggie Young plays guitar on, and that has been a great rule of thumb. Reggie is not a household name, but he has a distinctive guitar style that speaks to me — and to American rhythm guitar playing.
What was the last record you bought? Where?
Mandolin Blues by Yank Rachell at Carolina Soul in Durham. A comp of Blind Owl Wilson tracks and Albert King’s Lovejoy at Grimey’s in Nashville.
Why do you still buy records?
They make me feel good. They make me forget about time and disappear for a little while. Sitting on the floor and looking at an album cover while it plays on the stereo reminds me of being a kid.
Which record, in your opinion, do you need on vinyl? Why?
Every important record in my life, I own as an LP. The LP format contains the perfect amount of music: thirty-five to thirty-eight minutes, seventeen to eighteen minutes per side or so. It’s tactile; it’s a physical thing. You get to know your particular copy of your favorite records, where the skips and crackles are. Your copy of your favorite record becomes a record of your life, in a way. I am a different person than I was when I bought my copies of Television’s Marquee Moon and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and they show that. I’ve become more worn, just as my copies of those records have.
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