Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mod On The Road - Road Trip to Motown – Day 3

This is it. We’ve reached our final destination, Detroit. Two reasons bring us here. My traveling mate Ben and I are here to buy records and to visit sacred land,  Motown. I’ve visited Hitsville before (read about it here) but it was a first for our young disciple.

Ben has been living, breathing, dreaming about Motown since he was 5. He knows more about that place then Berry Gordy Jr. himself. He has never set foot in the Motor City in his life yet he knew all the street names. “I feel like I’ve been here before. I’ve read about all these streets. We’re close. I can sense it.” Even if it was getting dark and Detroit is not known for being the safest city in the land, we knew we had to stop at the Motown Museum regardless of the fact that the place was closed.

“I swear to you Pat, I’m going to lick the door of Studio A!” And he did! His excitement was palpable and frankly contagious. But I kept my bodily fluids to myself.

On Day 3, we were up bright and early, ready to be first ones in line. We were.

While waiting for the Museum to open, we saw an older gentleman walking out of the administrative offices.

- Pat! I think that’s Cornelius Grant from the Temptations!

- What are you waiting for? Go talk to the man!

As he approached, the tall black man asked us if we were here to visit the Museum.

- Yes sir, said Ben. Would you happen to be Cornelius Grant from the Temptations band?

- Ha! Ha! I wish I were! No, I’m the President of the Museum. Why don’t you guys come on in? The place should open up soon.

Even if this wasn’t my first visit, I still get chills thinking of all the great music that came out of that tiny house. We were paired up with a bunch of local high school students and Ben was uncommonly quiet. I guess he was taking it all in. At one point during the tour, our guide was talking about the first Supremes album that came out in 1964. That’s when Ben leaned over and whispered to me: “He’s wrong, it was actually in 1963.” You know what, I believe the guy.

That inspiring visit was all we needed to put us in the mood for some intense record digging. It’s imperative, that if you are ever in Detroit, you stop at People's Records. Their specialty is Soul 45s. Need I say more?

The owner Brad is a class act. He might not have the most pristine records on hand but you can’t beat his prices. The new store is in a bright new building but the experience remains the same. Get ready to get those hands dirty going through those milk crates with stacks of dusty old 45s. If you ask nicely, he might even let you dig through the upstairs storage room. When we got up there, we were surprised to find a whole crate of brand new Ric-Tic 45s. But it was all the same title!

I was very happy that I got to cross a few records off my want list. First was Since I Found My Baby by The Metros. This is pure Northern Soul. I know I use the term loosely too often in this blog but this song makes you want to Burn The Torch and Keep The Faith. It had arrived that morning like so many others that come through the door every day.

Now I understand why a few of British DJs make the pilgrimage a few times a year. You never know what’s going to turn up. I got to talk with Dave Thorley from Top Dog Records and he makes the trip a few times a year from the UK just to buy records. But I’m sure his budget doesn’t resemble mine. When you got to spin at the Wigan Casino and manage to play 3000$ records on a regular basis, you are in a different category. Nonetheless, I left with a stack that made the trip worthwhile.

One of Ben’s favorite finds was Now I’ve Got A Woman by Freddy King.

After a couple of hours, we thought we should try our luck somewhere else. A fellow reader of the blog, John Sparks, had recommended we pay a visit to Hello Records. As luck would have it, it was only a few blocks from our motel. When the sign over the door says “Soul, funk, jazz, gospel”, you are hoping for a bountiful dig. The problem was that it was closed on the two days we were in town. I guess we’ll just have to make the trip back!

Instead, we drove to The Record Graveyard. The owner has chosen the name for his store correctly because this is where records go to die. 

Even if he has a room full of 45s, we left without spending a dime. If you are looking for something on the rare side of things, don’t waste your time there. The owner told us as soon as we walked through the door that he didn’t have any of the rare stuff. If you are looking to start a collection of common 70s and 80s RnB, then by all means visit the place. 

A bit disappointed by our two last stops, we both knew where we would end up next. Back to People's Records! It’s worth spending a lot of time there because it will pay in the end. The proof is here. Here are some of my top purchases.

I Lost A Good Thing - Gwen Owens - Velgo


 Be Mine Tonight - Lloyd W Williams - Soul Beat


I've Been Changed - The Right King - Galaxy


Craked Up Over You - Lee Rodgers - Wheelsville

A friend of mine told me that there's another version of this 45 with Cracked with a "c". That version is apparently harder to find.

All that focused digging opens up quite the appetite. There is no better way to reward yourself than with the best BBQ place in town, Slow’s.

If you have a chance to pass through Detroit, make sure you stop at People's and say hi to Irma for me, will you?

Irma, in trance, listening to some sweet Soul music


  1. Wish I'd known about People's when I went to Motown last year! Sounds great. Next time, next time...

  2. Wow, Freddy King pis Lloyd W. Williams, deux belles découvertes!!!