I've carefully dug through Grand Rapids many times over the years. I've been in too many thrift stores to count and I've been through all the record stores I could find. So during my 32rd trip to GR after I ran through two new (or at least new to me) thrift stores, I felt unfulfilled. So I checked the map on the rare chance that a new record store had popped up since my last visit (surely I had already been to all of the existing shops). When Revolve Records came up, I was confused. I felt like there was some familiarity there...I must have been there before. But all the reviews were within the past few months and when I looked at the street view, I knew for certain: it was new. And with that, I was on my way.
Revolve is on the corner at a main intersection but immersed in a residential neighborhood. A winding concrete staircase leads you to the front door. Inside I found just one guy behind the counter and another lounging on a worn leather sofa. My eyes tuned in like laser beams and I assessed the room. I saw the lone bins in front of me against the wall and without wasting any time, I got involved in that.
Once I was elbow deep I found mostly R&B, some soul, hiphop, a good dose of jazz and even some gospel. I found my first platter almost immediately. I saw one Deniece Williams LP and checked the track list. No, this was not what I was looking for. Lucky for me the second one just behind it held the track I needed. As I struggled to jam my 6'3" frame into the lower bins the clerk was nice enough to bring me the short cube in the foreground to sit on so I didn't have to crawl around on my knees. Very courteous - he clearly knows the pain of audio archeology.
"It's Gonna Take A Miracle" is such a great example of proper musicianship from the vocals (of course) to the band which epitomizes 'chops'. The bass line especially has intrigued me of the last few months that I had to sit down and learn it. This only furthered my obsession. I'd like to thank this gent amongst the many who have posted youtube videos for his help in instruction, I found this video to be superior to many others in both technique and the actual transposition of the music from recording to playing it on an instrument.
After that I meticulously looked through every record in the shop. I found a Blue Note classic late in my hunt and despite the condition, knew this would be a candidate, depending on what the clerk (owner?) thought it might be worth. But as soon as I picked it up, I found something else inside. I knew something wasn't right, it was way too heavy. It was a Riverside oldie but even more beat than the record that DID belong in the jacket. I wasn't interested in anything that beat (or honestly, even if it was decent) so I was already running through the scenario in my mind: showing my great honesty, the clerk would cut me a deal on the record I wanted.
Turns out, there would be no need. He ended up telling me to keep the bonus record and that he'd take $12 for both. Sounded fair to me! I commented that this was my first legit Blue Note release but I later realized that wasn't true. How could I forget the record I earned through my speaking engagement at the record fair/flea market so long ago? I guess when you jet set around Illinois these things slip your mind. Ironic that both vinyls are from the same artist.
The clerk offered to let me peruse his 45s and brought them up the counter. All cleanly arranged in fresh white paper sleeves - nothing worse than naked 7"s. I glanced through but didn't find anything so I got the checkout process going. Very pleased to see the trademarked paper bags (it's still sitting at home, I always have trouble throwing these things away when I get them....should have taken a pic to add to this post). A small and possibly inexpensive touch that I always find adds value to the shopping experience. I asked if this was his place and indeed it was. Daniel aka TUD was not the clerk - he was the owner! We chatted briefly and I started to think about how similar this place was to Funk Trunk, another shop where I had a really pleasant look around. Similar selection of vinyl, similar quantity of inventory, just about the same size room, both times got to chat with the owner. Nothing delights me more than these one-on-one experiences, except maybe being able to put some money in the coffers of a small, independent, old school record store. I will definitely be back next time I am in town.
TUD gave me a bunch of business cards, I added one to my collection (need to scan that sometime soon) and then I set out in my remaining time in town to do some free advertising for Revolve. First up was the coffee basket in my hotel room.
The next morning I had my ritualistic breakfast at Russ Restaurant on 28th, I buried one in the bottom of the jelly caddy (is that what this thing is called?)