Welcome to our column Staff Picks, in which we ask the staffers at our favorite book, music, and movie stores around to town to share with us what they're reading, listening to, and watching this week. We figure they're good people to ask. Today we're checking in with Dan Cook, owner of Gimme Gimme Records in the East Village, to find out what he's been spinning lately.
Lately I've been buying a lot of records in Los Angeles. One of the things I've been finding a lot of is records by Mike Nesmith. The guy has been on the right side of the zeitgeist time and time again—from bubblegum rocker, to TV star, to country-rock trailblazer, to music-video pioneer, to media mogul, to film producer, to philanthropist—the guy has done a ton of cool shit. The fact that he first came to light as the "smart one" in the Monkees should not take away from his other accomplishments (really, with this much hindsight, it should only enhance his rep).To me, his early solo career should cement him alongside the legends of country rock. From 1970-73, Nesmith released six of the greatest country-rock records ever. My two favorites of the bunch are the albums Magnetic South and Nevada Fighter. I keep getting them for the store, and keep listening to them over and over.
Another thing that has been frequently coming into the store is ’90s rap. When I first opened the store in 1994, hip-hop was the store's biggest seller. Foreign buyers would fight it out to pay big money for records that had been issued only a few years before. Those crazy prices have dropped in recent years, making it a lot easier to acquire these "new school" gems. My friend and coworker Rich Grabanier and I talk about music all the time, but we never really discuss hip-hop, mostly psych or weird folk records. But when we've been cleaning and pricing these records, we've been having a lot of laughs busting out lines from Nice and Smooth, Leaders of the New School, Chi Ali, Lords of the Underground, Del, Brand Nubian and such. Those records, filled with samples which could never be cleared these days and intentional (and unintentional) goofy lyrics, sound like they are from a very distant, innocent time. It's a great era to revisit.
The third thing I'll mention is something I know very little about. It was one of those things I heard playing in a record shop and had to own: the debut album by Rabito. From what I can gather, this South American went on to have a career as a pleasant pop performer, but this debut album is anything but and is really out there. It's as if he heard the bizarre, genius sounds of Os Mutantes and thought he heard the future of music. The album is full of of psych/Tropicália/Beatlesque gems. This is one of those records that might not make it to the bins at the store. That's the great thing about owning the shop: I'm not getting rich, but I get first pick!
Gimme Gimme Records // 325 East 5th Street // (212) 475-2955