Five Super Obscure Disco Records Made Expensive by Big Name DJs
Caribou drops a James Brown edit in his Essential Mix and all of a sudden you're remortgaging the house.
This article was originally published on THUMP UK.
Strange, this time of ours, isn't it? An age of non-commitment, bet-hedging, unbridled narcissism and a rapacious desire to be defined by whatever over-stuffed burger we're plonking on Instagram. We are, as they say, basic. But even the most basic of us contain multitudes. That emotional complexity—bubbling and burbling away underneath all those filters and hashtags—is even reflected in the way we consume music. You could, if you were feeling incredibly millennial, say that we reached peak functionality a decade ago with our invisible digital songs listened to on an iPod nano that we carried around in a knitted pouch. But that was easy. Too easy. So we laughed in the face of functionality like a Titanic riding fop opting for a cravat over a lifejacket, and you know what happened? Vinyl came back, baby! Good old fashioned thick, needlessly expensive, vinyl!
The vinyl revival doesn't negate the fact that most of us find and extract our music digitally, on an almost vociferous scale. The digital and the analog edge ever closer, like two pissheads at closing time looking for a shared Uber, a chicken shawarma and a quick bunk up. There you are, tucked up in bed with a Boiler Room set banging away in the background, and BAM, there's a record you simply have to have.
So off you trot to Discogs, because everyone knows that you need the real, shellac-y deal. Digital files won't do. Yet as prices rise faster than John Prescott's blood pressure at an all you can eat buffet, you're left deciding between rent or a repress of an old obscure classic that Young Marco played out in Rotherham on a sweaty Saturday night. Those tracks—the ones that blaze a trail through your brain and slap your auditory cortex for a bit—go on to live a second life in terms of availability, popularity, and price after being rediscovered. Here are five stellar records that've undergone this transformation. Let's see what we learn along the way...
1. Escape From New York - Fire in My Heart
Played by: DJ Harvey, Boiler Room, Milan, 2015
DJ Harvey's DJ Harvey and THUMP write about him more than pretty much anyone else in club culture so I don't need to explain the man, the myth, the legend all over again. What I will explain is how a previously forgotten post-disco sleazeball of a record went from obscurity to selling for £250 in the space of six days.
Having already wowed the chic Milanese audience with the theme tune from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, ol' Harv stepped it up a notch, teasing the crowd as he does, allowing that hypnotic melody to whip around the room before introducing that bassline. A sensation was born. That sensation heaped value on the original and because not everyone can spunk the best part of a month's living expenses on a record, there was demand for a reissue. Thankfully Adelaide label Isle of Jura listened, and now even the bloke down at Oceana Wrexham on a Wednesday night's blaring it out. It'll cost you £8.99 whereas the original'll set you back somewhere between £195.41, and £977.06. I mean, it's a fucking amazing record but is any record that amazing?
2. Rabo De Saia - Ripa Na Xulipa
Played by: Jeremy Underground, Boiler Room, Paris 2015
Jeremy Underground's one of those blokes who, as his name suggests, probably spends a bit too much time in record shops. Which, given his job, is sort of fair enough.
At the end of his March 2015 Paris Boiler Room set—which featured stompers by the likes of Dungeon Meat, SE62 and Fjaak—Jezza introduced us to the unapologetically Brazilian boogie wonderland that is Rabo De Saia's "Ripa Na Xulipa". The internet purred with pleasure. The last person who bought it, or so Discogs reckons, paid £47.55 for the pleasure, and the previous purchaser coughed up £70 for six whole minutes of music. The track was also featured on a comp released by Favourite in 2014 named Brazilian Disco Boogie Sounds (1978-82) which you can pick up for a slightly more reasonable £15. That's nine choice cuts for the price of a few pints. Bliss.
I spoke to the guys at Mr Bongo, a Brighton based purveyor of world music of every stripe, about why it is that Brazillian disco sells for so much money. "A lot of the other disco has been covered so much, so (originally) they didn't bother digging Brazilian," they said. "But now that the rest has been dug, covered and edited, this (Brazilian) is all brand new and fresh, so it's quite exciting."
3. Claudia - Com Mais de 30
Played by: Floating Points, Final Plastic People Night
Floating Points is definitely not afraid to genre-hop, and another Brazilian gem, Claudia's "Com Mas de 30" has popped up in a few of his sets, including his seminal final appearance at Plastic People. Having had a wee look at the going rates on Discogs, the one and only version of the single is going for £21.15, shipping from Brazil. Seem expensive? Kind of, but not shocking really, especially when compared with the 1971 LP Jesus Cristo, released on Odeon, that features "Com Mais de 30" which is currently retailing between £75 and £400—the difference between a wet weekend in Hull and a few nights on Lanzarote. It's worth remembering, though, that a lot of records just sit at extortionate prices without ever selling. Discogs inflation is another topic for another debt-ridden hack to explain, however.
Mr Bongo are selling it for slightly less. I put it to them that if they weren't releasing these gems on 7" for chips, that the original market would be out of control, but they didn't agree. Instead they argued the kinds of people chasing the originals would always exist, as if in some kind of money vacuum, which seems about right if you think about people and their precious things.
They did, however, agree that post-Floating Points they've noticed a change in customer base, with an increase in younger people buying the sound they put out. Trouble is though —for me at least and my trickle down vinylomics theory—it was pretty sought after before Sam Shepherd gave it a spin. As Matt told me, "the ones we put on 45, a lot of them have been on the wanted list for a lot of people a long time before Floating Points started getting noticed for playing it, so a lot of them are records that we know people are after anyway."
4. Sonny Jenkins and the New York Potpourri Strings - That Friday Pay (Eagle Flying Day) Part 1
Played by: Motor City Drum Ensemble, Dekmantel 2014
Herr Danilo Plessow (AKA Motor City Drum Ensemble) has wowed us with vibey sheller after vibey sheller over the years as a producer and as a DJ. His set at Dekmantel 2014 set is a guaranteed good time and the perfect accompaniment to four cans of decent strength continental lager.
It seems like any DJ worth his salt has the ability to put money in some old collector's pocket, and MCDE is no exception. This Sony Jenkins' record was never been that cheap to start with, but after that fateful summer's afternoon, people have been known to pay over £202 for it.
MCDE has spoken with Crack magazine about the issue of certain records becoming sought after, pricier and rare once he plays them. He told them that the rise in price of "Keep The Fire Burning" by Gwen McCrae even led to an altercation with a punter – "I played in Australia recently and this one girl came to me and said, "you're such a son of a bitch, you made this record a £50 record and now I can't buy it!" And yeah, it's still at £50. Thanks mate, I've got to live on mulch and bin juice till payday now. Thanks.
5. James Brown - I'm Satisfied (Underdog Edit)
Played by: Caribou, BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix, 2014
Now, the bank-busting capabilities of this funkier-than-though extended edit aren't as easy to pin down as the records above. MCDE's played it out, so's Todd Terje and so has Caribou, AKA Dance Music's Nicest Bloke Dan Snaith, who dropped it in his sensational Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 way back when in 2014. Which is why we're staring, once again, at the horribly waxy complexion of vinyl economics.
Like I said, this one actually supports the thesis unlike almost all the other ones that come with all sorts of caveats—bar that rogue Todd Terje play. For the sake of prudence however: MCDE plays it August 2014 and Caribou in October, and it stops there. Anything else is mere conjecture. On the 17th of October a version of the Underdog Edits release goes for £28 with no cover. The previous sale of the record—in September—was also sans cover and goes for £8. Before then the highest the record had gone for was £14 (with cover) in 2013. Post October the record has averaged out at around £40, but has gone for as high as £60 this year. This is a clear example of the track being "found" and the influence these DJ's enjoy—in this case Caribou, or a snowball effect of him and MCDE.