This story is over 5 years old
Music by VICE

The Case of the $5000 LP

Endless Boogie's guitarist Paul Major is doing an outsider psych column for us now. The first one is about Stonewall, an obscure 70s act with a record on Tiger Lily Records, a mob-connected tax scam label.

by Paul Major
Oct 1 2012, 7:30pm

That's Paul holding his prized Stonewall LP, which is priced at around $5000.

Maybe you haven't heard of Tiger Lily Records. If not, you should look into it: it's a now-defunct label that issued dozens of LPs seemingly simultaneously in 1976. It's widely believed to have been a tax scam run by the notorious Morris Levy, a Genovese-connected NYC mogul who also owned Roulette Records - you may not know Roulette either, but you're probably familiar with some of the heavy-hitters in their stable: Dinah Washington, Tommy James & The Shondells, and Count Basie all released music through Roulette. Levy is an endlessly interesting character - you can read about him in the excellent 1993 book "Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, The Music Business and The Mafia," by William Knoedelseder. He's also the model for Hesh Rabkin, Tony's buddy on the Sopranos.

Tiger Lily was run as a subsidiary to Roulette - tons of records were pressed and written off as "unsold," a huge tax loss that would help the "real" label stay profitable. LPs on Tiger Lily came in all styles, and many were never meant to be sold. Bands would send Levy a demo tape, and then find out years later that Tiger Lily had released it without their permission.

At this point, nearly every obscure band with a killer hard rock LP on Tiger Lily has been found, but there's still no trace of one of my favorites: Stonewall. There have only been about five copies of the record found, and one of them went for $5000 dollars. I found one in the 80s through a friend's private sale list. I picked it up without really thinking about it, and tried to sell it for $65 bucks. Fortunately, nobody grabbed it before I heard it, peeled myself of the ceiling, and took the for sale sign down.

The names of Stonewall's members listed on this Italian Akarma label reissue are bogus - the singer was found, however, and has no idea what happened. The band had no problem getting loose and brutal in the studio in the early 70s. Fantastic crunching guitar, heavy stormy grooves, killer songs, and a singer who vibes like a trailer park Ozzy in the early stages of a meth binge. The record opens with "Right On," an invocation to "come on over to our shack" and get wild. "Outer Spaced" is the peak, the singer channeling bizarre visions while riding a tidal wave of pulverizing guitar and organ. Shoots you off like a rocket and flattens you like a steamroller simultaneously:

Attention DJs: need a secret weapon to deploy when that moment comes to blow the lid off the room? "Outer Spaced" will do it every time!

Paul is in the deeply heavy psych/fuzz rock band Endless Boogie. They are the secret favorite group of every good musician in New York.