I think I’ve encountered nearly every album Candi Staton released on vinyl while sifting through L.A. record store bins these past few years. Sometimes, I’ll find multiple copies of the same album in one dig. There’s one, though, that has eluded me. It’s called Chance and it was high up on my wish list since the pandemic. I wanted this album for one reason, a song called “Me and My Music,” which became a welcome earworm back when Los Angeles’ nightclubs were closed.
Candi Staton is best known in the U.S. for the 1976 disco jam “Young Hearts Run Free.” People in the U.K., and househeads here, are probably also quite familiar with “You Got the Love,” an early ‘90s dance hit that was famously covered by Florence and the Machine in the late ‘00s. But, Staton has been singing since the 1950s and is still active (she played Glastonbury last year), so there’s a significant amount of her music out in the world. Some releases are harder to track down than others, which is the case with Chance. Not only did it take me far-too-long to find the actual vinyl, but, from what I’ve seen, it’s not available to download and streaming options are limited to Deezer and a few YouTube clips.
My first quandary of 2024 occurred late in the afternoon on January 1 inside Going Underground Records as I quickly flipped through a crate of indie releases alphabetized by the letter F. There, I found Kate Fagan I Don’t Want to Be Too Cool and Future Islands As Long As You Are on vinyl, both of which I could use in my collection. But, when it comes to new vinyl, I need to exhibit some restraint. Which should I choose?
The 12” appeared in the midst of a deep dig through crates set up inside a Pasadena City College parking garage during the monthly PCC flea market. I had already excavated records by Harry Nilsson, Tangerine Dream and Patrice Rushen when a friend, whose visit to Los Angeles was the catalyst for this adventure, called me over to a booth filled with soundtrack albums and soul records. I flipped through As the Record Turns ‘ vinyl selection and paused when I noticed “(Mamacita) ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?” the 1978 disco Christmas single from Charo, “A Tom Moulton Mix” released as an extended 12” single on Salsoul with a stamped note on the backside of the cover that read:
“In all my life, the most happy time of the year is Christmas and I want to share it with you. When you play this record I’ll be with you. Merry Christmas. Love and cuchi cuchi, Charo.”
I’m constantly filing and cataloging my record collection. Every time, I think that I will devise the perfect system and reveal a latent talent for organization, like in Party Girl. But, once I get about halfway through the task, I realize that the system doesn’t work as well as it should and start all over again. The only upside to this Sysiphean task— which, I suppose, is also very Party Girl— is that I inevitably reconnect with a handful of old records.
There’s one band I’ve played more than any other in my DJ sets. That’s Depeche Mode. The British synthpop pioneers have been a part of my gigs, often regardless of the vibe of the party, since I started DJing. I doubt this will ever change.
I’ve been a Depeche Mode fan since I was a kid, but there are a lot of bands that I’ve loved for most of my life and don’t play nearly as often. It does help that L.A. has a lot of Depeche Mode fans. Outside of the clubs, the band frequently appears on request lists for weddings and birthday parties. But, that’s also not really the reason for so much Depeche Mode play.
In many ways, I don’t think of myself as a record collector. I’m someone who happened to start DJing when CDJs were not as user-friendly as turntables and vinyl, particularly dance and alternative music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, fit my college student budget. Many years later, though, I’ve managed to build a record collection that I still sometimes use to DJ. Mostly, though, it’s a source of personal enjoyment.
Over years of crate digging, I’ve learned how to build a record collection. I’ll share what I learned here, beginning with how to source records in a way that’s sustainable for you.