Bay Area Vinyl Hop: Contact Records

Mika Anami

<ANDREW's Record Picks>

Guitar Mood, Various Artists

This is a collection of '60s guitar instrumentals from all over the world. The first track is one of the craziest Japanese guitar players, and I had never heard of him before—Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans. That song totally blew my mind. He does this traditional tune in a totally crazy surf style. From there it jumps to everywhere in the world. What was really cool is: this record disappeared once and then just recently became available again. I think whoever put it out, put it out again… so when we saw that it was available we ordered 50 copies! We listen to this in the store on a daily basis, and it's one of those records that you throw it on and you sell a copy.

Live at The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas by Townes Van Zandt

The next one is a rare record and once it's gone, I have no idea when I will find another one. This is an old original pressing on Tomato. At the end of the day, with a guy like Townes Van Zandt, you really just want him and his guitar. I love all of his records, but there is something about losing all of that extra production, and the fact that it's two LPs of songs up until that point of his career, it is almost like a "best of." He is playing really natural; he is in his prime, and his cheesy one-liners work great. You can tell the audience is really engaged—it is just a beautiful record—so I am excited to have a copy in here to talk about.

<HANNAH's Record Picks>

Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk

I have this Kraftwerk that we got in Japan, a 1978 copy. The reason why I picked this one is because we are getting known for having a lot of these really cool Japanese copies that have the obi strip, insert, and all of these ephemera. We found so many records that were intact like that when we were in Japan. I feel like if it had been in the States, it would have gotten trashed and partied-on a lot more, [chuckles] but this copy is so pristine and so beautiful. It's just cool to see a record that is so ‘formative’ for me that comes with different artwork.

Utakata No Hibi by Mariah

The other one is the Mariah reissue that Palto Flats did last year. It’s Yasuaki Shimizu's other project, he had the one record Kakashi, but he was part of this other project called Mariah, the album is called Utakata No Hibi. It is such a singular record. It is an example of a type of reissue that we tend to carry because since we are so small, we have the luxury of just ordering reissues that we really love. This one is sort of new wave, but it just sounds like nothing else, really. It is one of my favorite records.

<Contact Records Pick>

Shemonmuanaye by Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument

HANNAH: One last record that we kind of both picked... he has a few records and this one is called Shemonmuanaye from 1985.

ANDREW: He is from Ethiopia, an organ player mostly. He used to play in the hotel bands and stuff and he actually just put out a new record and he is still touring. We just saw him—it was fantastic. He'd go between organ, accordion and melodica. He made this record in the '80s—I believe he was living in DC at the time—and he wanted to turn the younger generation onto traditional Ethiopian music. So he is playing these traditional Ethiopian melodies with synthesizers and drum machines. So it's really unlike most Ethiopic stuff you hear—this is completely its own thing. If the vinyl resurgence wasn't happening, I don't know if all of this stuff will be getting discovered by so many people. Hannah just reminded me that Hailu was driving a cab, and the guy in the back couldn't believe who it was, and he was friends with the label or something like that… and now Hailu Mergia is back out there playing to a whole new audience. That stuff is happening all over the world!

Stay tuned for more Bay Area record shop interviews!

Contact Records

Contact Records
644 40th Street #104, Oakland, California 94609
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 12pm-8pm, Sundays: 12pm-7pm
Closed on Mondays
Tel: (510) 891-1536 USA

Interview and article by Mika Anami
Photographs by Rieko Fujii

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