Saturday, February 10, 2007


When I first began as the soul buyer for my current employer, I'd get calls from all sorts of labels trying to get their product into the stores. I got so many calls, I'd just let the stupid phone ring. Most of the solicitations were simply people who had a song, a dream and no one to tell them they had no talent whatsoever. Others were people who were at the end of the line and, as a last ditch business opportunity--getting into the physical distribution of music in hopes to ring the towel of enough change to pay their mortgage. My daily grind, among other things, was listening to these people. Occassionally still, I'll get one of those calls and it sends shivers up my spine.

It bares worth mentioning that soul, funk, jazz and groove doesn't sell so well in our stores given our geographic location. In short, we can stock it, but we can't sell it.

One day early in my career as a buyer, I received an email from a fella named "Josh @ L.I.T.A." who was pitching a project from his label called "Free Design." He was wanting the names of distributors we dealt with so he could hook up with them and we could bring it through. I checked out his labels website ( which usually was a deal-breaker. I was surprised to see a very well constructed and informational website. These dudes were serious.

I search for this "Free Design" project, come to find out Free Design is a group from the late 60's responsible for the "soft-psych" masterpieces Kites are Fun, Heaven/Earth, One By One, Sing for Very Important People, Stars/Time/Bubbles/Love, There is a Song and You Could Be Born Again. The album covers pictured three or four members of these Mamas and the Papas-looking hippies.

These dudes ain't serious...they're sick.

Josh, like a good sales rep, offered up samples and said he would send them my way. Once they arrived, I rushed to my player and put them in. The sound that would overcome me would come to represent the sound I would attach to Light in the Attic from there forward. It was this crazy, psychedelic, kaleidascopic, mind-altering folk ish. After one complete listen to the record (which would be Kites are Fun), I realized there was another recording in the package which featured remixes from Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, Koushik, Nobody and Danger Mouse, among others.

Oh word?!

After a complete listen to this composition, I was hooked. Regardlessly bound as a retailer and committed to only bringing in product I could sell, I was a fan from here on.

In the following months, the following years really, I'd receive an occassional phone call from a distributor out on the west coast about a new Light in the Attic project. Sometimes, we'd bring it in if for no other reason other than I believed in what they were doing. I still think, out of the projects we brought in, you could count our scans using your ten fingers.

I would go, sometimes, long droughts without hearing from Josh until yesterday when a package arrived to my co-worker, David. David swings around in his chair, "Josh sends his best." In it were two hunky pieces of vinyl (oh yeah) with Stic-Its reading:




As corny as it sounds, it was like receiving a hand-written letter from an old lover. Clutching those two vinyl pieces in my hands was like tightly holding onto a precious heirloom. David got the CD versions and we put on a few recordings in the afternoon. Had I forgotten how incredibly dope Light in the Attic was?

So touched by the fact that he hadn't forgotten about me, I woke up this morning, put on some coffee and decided to have a Light in the Attic morning. I started out with the vinyl I recently received which was a compilation Jamaica to Toronto and Jackie Mittoo's Wishbone which is possibly the nastiest organ funk I've heard in ages. Booty-ful.

I also went back to visit their website as it had been quite some time I was there. I then realized how many brilliant recordings these guys had put out--most of which I've received from Josh. Whether it's Austin's very own The Black Angels or the (get this) Deep Throat original soundtrack (which is infinitely dope, trust me) or the Karen Dalton that I also received the other day (Josh, it's too good for my ears--I don't deserve it)--Light in the Attic do what they do and they do it well.

They reissue with reverence and respect. And their commitment to the perpetuation of good music is the very heart and soul that the music industry has been missing for the last ten years. Check out their site, look at the records, listen to the samples and you'll hear what I'm talking about. If you've got the time, read through the story of how Light in the Attic came to be--it's quite compelling.

I only type this this morning because these are the labels that make the world go round. If they wanted to make the big stacks of money, they wouldn't be reissuing old folk records and Jackie Mittoo's Wishbone. It's obvious there's a love and a passion for music at Light in the Attic that's tragically absent at most other outfits (retail included).

Buy Light in the Attic stuff. I'll give you recommendations. But support these guys. Learn the music. Educate yo'self. The future is in funk.

1 comment:

K-Fleet said...

That Sharpshooters full-length sounds pretty good, think I might pick it up.