[caption id="attachment_5438" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Louisiana Music Factory, courtesy of Analisa Cisneros[/caption]
Vinyl You Need calls up the people who work at record stores and asks them what records they think are essential. This edition features Louisiana Music Factory.
New Orleans is a strange place. It fosters a sense of deep loyalty among is community members—those who choose to live on the coast of a sub-sea level bayou. Likewise, New Orleans’ music scene is equally tight. Even in the French Quarter, one of the most tourist-infested neighborhoods in the Crescent City, music fills the streets. It manifests in the form of second line bands weaving between the sidewalks and the roads. It streams out of bars on Bourbon Street and clubs along Frenchman Street. It even rests in record shops like the Louisiana Music Factory, which has been serving the French Quarter since 1992.
One my inaugural trip to New Orleans in 2014, I sought to find this unusual, diverse, and notably secluded scene. The Louisiana Music Factory, filled with lines of record shelves and a bursting section of local selections of blues, jazz, zydeco, Cajun music, and more, helped satiate this need. Having already nabbed a copy of Billie and De De & Their Preservation Hall Jazz Band from legendary Preservation Hall, I still gravitated toward the sounds of the region. Luckily, within the Louisiana Music Factory’s organized rows, I found a limited edition pressing of Best Of Street: New Orleans Volume 1. According to the label, Sojourn Records, “Best of Street is a Louisiana-based social enterprise that gives 90% of the compilation’s net proceeds to the musicians featured. Our mission is to discover, celebrate, and empower the best street musicians around the world.”
While walking out of the store, a man burst in, complimenting—if misnaming—a local singer/song playing a set of swampy folk and rhythm and blues tunes and at the nearby d.b.a. club. “Is it Luke Winslow-King?” I asked tentatively, having reviewed (and loved) his 2013 album The Coming Tide.
“Yes!” the man responded excitedly. “That’s his name!”
After dashing the two blocks up Frenchman, flashing my out of state ID at the door, and catching my breath, I realized how perfectly New Orleans this connection really was. As a result, I got to see an independent artist I love play a free weekday show in a tiny venue and this wonderfully fortuitous experience wouldn’t have happened without the conduit that is the Louisiana Music Factory, and for that, I owe them more thanks than two records I bought that day. So, we checked in with Office Manager Analisa Cisneros to see what five records she thinks everyone should own on vinyl.
Five Essential Records to Own on Vinyl
Office Manager & Factotum, Louisiana Music Factory
Artist: Gary Numan
Reason: Gary Numan was my introduction (at a very young age) to electronic music. While he employed some acoustic instruments on this album, the standout sound was the weird throbs and sirens of the Moog synthesizer. I was about 11 years old when it appeared in my older brother's record crate and I was entranced. I was very happy that my brother played this non-stop for a while. Though I can see that Kraftwerk got there earlier I wasn't really aware of them until Tour de France came out and so for me, techno pop and electronica started with Gary. When I listen to Goldfrapp, J. Atkins, Caribou, and other similar artists, I can hear Gary Numan all over it. I still wish I could afford a Moog.
Album: In A Silent Way
Artist: Miles Davis
Reason: What can I say? This is simply one of the most sublime musical performances ever. This was recorded the year I was born and I didn't run across it until I was in college. My stoner buddy Dave turned me on to this and I now own it on vinyl, CD, and digitally. Can't be cavalier about great music. This not only opened the door to Miles Davis for me, but also to Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. I use this recording like some people use aspirin and like other people use booze. I'm not sure if I ever thanked Dave for bringing this into my orbit. I want to take that opportunity now.
Album: Physical Graffiti
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Reason: So, so hard to pick one Led Zep album, but I'm gonna go with this—not simply because it holds great music—but for the awesome gatefold cover. The windows of the brownstone buildings on the cover were die-cut revealing the inner sleeve that was printed with faces of famous people. The faces appeared to peer out of the windows of the buildings.
Records covers were once an art form. Even De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising had a comic book-like sleeve in it that brought to mind the book inside the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. I seriously love elaborate album cover ar; to hell with a download card.
Artist: Isley Brothers
Reason: This is simply great soul music by great soul musicians. It was also a turning point where the Isleys went from pop/doo-wop to funk and soul. This will convert any skeptic who might say that killer guitar riffs don't exist in R&B. There was a time when I knew this record note-for-note, with the songs in order on sides A and B, beginning to end—every note and lyric. All you have to do is look at the outfits the guys are wearing on the cover and you'll know. You'll just know.
Album: Gris Gris
Artist: Dr. John
Reason: "Je suis le grand zombie." One of the lyrics I could not make out when I heard this as a kid. The first time I heard this was on late-night radio in Texas, which I wasn't supposed to be listening to, but I discovered that if kept the volume ever so low I could get away with it. Years later I was visiting New Orleans and came across the record at the now-defunct Magic Bus record shop (which was actually in a graffiti-covered school bus). To me this is the distilled essence of the mystery of New Orleans—haunting, sinister, hinting at corruption and the occult. And it's funky, too. This is the some of the music that drew me to actually move to New Orleans where I've lived for over two decades now. Incidentally, Mac's accent on this album is one of the greatest examples of pure "Yat" I've heard. Look it up. You might end up here, too.