Harmony Records in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. My daughter and I headed out there in the morning, planning to arrive when they opened at 10:30. It's a good thing we weren't completely on schedule because it turned out to be more like 11-ish when the owner, Glenn Velger, came and rolled up the gate. Harmony has been operating since 1956 and if it's not the oldest record store in NYC still at its original location, I'd like to know what is. The small narrow space is decorated by accretion, like a cave that has been transformed by millennia of drips, floods and geologic events. Dion's fingerprints are probably somewhere under the grime and accumulated stuff.
Besides a few new release CD's, most of the stock at Harmony consists of well worn LP's and 45's, with a strong concentration in soul, disco and hip hop. Some of the inventory has come from DJ's liquidating their collections and it shows in the number of promo copies and white labels. Serious crate diggers might find some long-sought items here, but they best have deep pockets - I discovered that the base price for LP's and 12" singles is $14.99, even in rough condition.
It was entertaining to flip through the albums - my daughter was incredulous that anyone would want to dress like Don Johnson on the cover of the Miami Vice soundtrack - but some other would-be patrons weren't so happy when they found out there were no limited editions in stock. One dude, in expensive head-to-toe black, came in with his phone to his ear saying "I'm building the house mainly for my records," and asked for the McCartney single.
After the sticker shock, I ended up making a few token purchases in the spirit of the day. I took a chance on George McCrae's 1976 album Diamond Touch, partly because I've always like the TK sound and partly because he looked so sad on the album cover. He might have been depressed because the record wasn't recorded at TK HQ in Miami, home of Rock Your Baby, Rock The Boat, Rocking' Chair (by George's wife Gwen), and a dozen hits by KC & The Sunshine Band. Diamond Touch was instead made in NYC under the supervision of Gregg Diamond, known for taking More More More by former porn star Andrea True to the top of the charts.
Tom Moulton Mix of a Bunny Sigler production - need I say more? Finally, Don't Take My My Kindness For Weakness Is a sentiment I can get behind, and I'm always a sucker for Stax, so I threw the single by The Soul Children on the pile.
I'm glad we made the trip as our little adventure took us to a part of NYC I'd never seen before, although I've lived here all my life. While I may never go back to Harmony it's definitely a spot any record store aficionado should visit at least once, although maybe not on Record Store Day.