Damas y Caballeros. We hope your new year is off to bang and we’re gearing up to make this year extra special and so we want to get off to a great start by introducing you to one of our newest contributors to Sonorama, el Señor Marlowe. Now there’s no denying that since it’s inception to the blogosphere we’ve been big fan’s of Eilon Paz’s vinyl-luvin’ “Dust and Grooves” blog which has featured some great music heads and collectors around the globe. If you’re not familiar we highly recommend you check it out. So in similar fashion we decided to pay Sonorama’s newest face a visit so you can get to see and hear some of what to look forward in the year to come. Enjoy!
“What we’re going to do is go back…way back…back into time, back to the cavemen…hehe”, just kidding so tell us a little about your background as a music lover/collector? When did you start your love affair with music?
I’m thinking back to the days when we ( well me and my brother) would listen to Djs play mixes on 96.3FM, “The Killer B” it was called then; from those days it was a non-stop search for the ultimate mix-tapes. I don’t think we realized that the mixes were all of the same songs just mixed in different ways. But there are many points in my life when love affairs with music were started after that, but let’s say that’s when my love affair with house music started.
So you began with a love affair with house, can you tell us about your other love affairs, because as music lovers I think we all go through “phases”, can you tell us about some of your other musical love affairs?”
Well, while house music , specifically Chicago House music, was a dominant genre through my teenage years, things started to change soon after a great buddy of mine Marco would give me rides home after class during high school. He would always have the oldies station tuned in and I would tell him ” change the station or check this mix out”, but he wouldn’t budge, and through the years my love for classic rock soul and r&b started to grow, thanks to his stubbornness!
What about vinyl collecting? How long have you been collecting records?
I would say since 2002 or so, 11 years. wow that seems like a long time!
Can you remember the first record you bought, or any fond memories, or records that really blew your mind when you started diggin’ for records?
There are many, but I think for me its been not only the music but the act of digging for records. That feeling you get when you have been digging for hours and you find one record or track that you might not have been looking for but that you found and you think man this amazing track was buried deep within this mound of records! On that same thought, most of my Chicago House collection was found at thrift shops for very cheap prices. When you hear about people paying crazy amounts for those same records, you feel good since I was really not making much at the time. It’s about the hunt for me, i drag my food home to eat from there.
So besides house, what other genres are on your radar, and is there something specific you look for when you dig for records?
Well now I dig for anything and everything that might interest me. I’ve been really into garage and psychedelic rock lately, so any chance I get I’ll try to find new artists to listen to. I’m really interested in Latin American groups within these genres buts its hard to find them in Chicago alone. In fact, really hard, but I have my sources!
Can you tell us about some of you Latin American interest’s a little more, and as you can tell we kind of really dig Latin American grooves. You recently found some little gems while doing some digging in Mexico? Can you tell us about your recent finds?
Yeah me and my brother were in Guadalajara and we visited a store called Roxy Roll. I will say it was a bit intimidating walking in because you really don’t see many record stores in Mexico. This guy had some really rare items on the shelves and I knew I would find something interesting there. After spending almost three hours there I found some unique stuff. I found a 45 EP by a band called Los Grecos who do a cool James Brown style number called “Dynamita”, an Lp by Las Moskas who were a Mexican garage band doing covers of Credeance Clear water Revival and the Shocking Blue. Also a best of Los Hitters comp with an ultra cool cover of East LA’s Cannibal and the Headhunter’s hit “Land of a thousand dances”.
–This Lp by Los Beatnik with it’s misnamed “Blues de Menphis”[sic] hides a dreamy bluesy guitar instrumental which opens the mix.
What is it about Latin American garage and psychedelic bands that captures your ear. Sadly most of Latin America is flooded with sometimes crappy covers of English-speaking songs, but what do you see that sets these bands apart from the English-sung versions?
I really like to hear what these bands come up with when i hear these covers. Many times yeah the inspiration is from an English version, but sometimes they really take it out there and in my eyes surpass the original, if that’s even possible. other times they might incorporate Latin elements like percussion or Spanish lyrics which is like listening to an entirely new song. The Venus cover by Las Moskas is a great example of this. The lyrics are sung from the perspective of the guy who is hypnotized by Venus’ eyes and her body and the ground she’s standing on! Its great!
-The Peppers Smelter a Peruvian Psych band who cover the likes of Cream, Iron Butterfly, and Jimmy Hendrix. The last track on the album is a raga if you can believe that.
–Apocalipsis, a Tex-Mex style Ranchera band who dipped into chunky fuzz, Wah Wah effects and sung in English and Spanish sometimes all on the same track. El Senor Charly put me up on this one and its a keeper!
So this may be a tired question in recent years, but why vinyl? What keeps you lugging around the record crate and digging through the piles of dust ridden records in record stores?
I really like the idea of “playing” a song, not just clicking a song. There is something special about playing vinyl that you will never get from a laptop or Cds. Beyond the sound quality, I really can’t walk into a music store today and ask for something recorded back in 68′, so finding old grooves on vinyl is kind of where you have to look for that older sound. Reissues have made it easier to own a copy of a super rare album and that helps, although it’s not cheap either. Finding original pressings or later issues is fun and again its all about diggin’.
So are there any records that are on your want list, those records that have proven hard to find or that you cross your fingers and hope are hiding in that next big pile of dusty records?
Really there’s a few,but I really try to keep an open mind when digging. I really would like to find the first LP by Grupo Bota of Venezuela, though I don’t really think I’ll find it in Chicago but maybe?! The thing is to really know what you’re looking for and keep your eyes open and your ears to the needle because you will probably never see that record again! I know that a lot of great garage bands I’m into now were from Latin America, like New Juggler Sound, Fe 59 and Los Saicos. I plan to take a trip to Ecuador to visit some new family this year and I’m planning to take an Olympic sized dive into what I might find out there.
Do you have any albums or records that you come back to time after time and have become personal favorites, or say…chill-out records, party starters, etc?
Yeah, I really like to play more chilled out stuff at home, and lately I’m playing them early in my set when I play out at a bar or party. One great chill track I never tire of is Gary Burton’s “Last Paris Tango” off of his Good Vibes LP. That track never gets old for me, its soft and still has some great guitar solos; Toncho Pilato’s “Blind Man” is another great blues rock track that builds from almost a whisper and finishes strong. Then there is Los Bulldogs who do a cover of the Arron Neville’s “Tell it like it is” which is both unique and sad, but awesome. Party starters. There’s a lot of those, but I’ll leave it at the chill stuff for now, and I’ll see you on the dance floor for those.
–Local Chicago artist TEWZ, I bought this 45 at Favorite Records which is now closed. Its serigraphed with gold ink onto a flexi disc. TEWZ samples from everywhere and every genre and what you get are some great ruff sounding abstract Hip Hop tracks.
–I picked these up together in the garage of a retired man who liked to learn the chords to the songs held within the records he owned. Really the covers were what drew me to them when I saw them. One had a still from Raging Bull and the other LP had some sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon on it. Both offered progressive Mexican rock that gave a positive message to youth in a very cool electronic way!
– The Cover for this LP was designed by Victor Moscoso, the now famous psychedelic artist that made concert posters in Haight Ashbury back in the sixties for the Family Dog production company among others. I really love psychedelic art and I bought it for the cover, the music though could still use some help from some friends.
Any closing words? What surprises can we can to hear from Senor Marlowe in 2013?
I’m happy to officially be a part of the Sonorama crew now. It’s always fun to be able to meet with like-minded music lovers and play tracks at home and at bars and parties. I’m happy to see that the vinyl scene is growing and going strong. Surprises?! We will have to wait and see now won’t we.
’til then enjoy the mix.