Magazine article The New Yorker

Soul Slam

Magazine article The New Yorker

Soul Slam

Article excerpt

These days, Andy Noble is best known as the founding bassist of Kings Go Forth, a ten-piece, Milwaukee-based soul orchestra that is currently touring to support its hit debut album, "The Outsiders Are Back." The group came to town not long ago for shows at Mercury Lounge and Southpaw. On his day off, Noble dropped by Good Records NYC, in the East Village, and slipped into his other persona: collector of rare soul and funk music.

Noble, bearded and baby-faced, arranged a stack of 45-r.p.m. records in front of him, as did the store's owner, Jonathan Sklute, and the two men began what amounted to a friendly joust. Noble, who is thirty-four, went first: he switched on a turntable and played a mid-tempo song from the early seventies by a San Antonio-based soul group led by Charles Russell and his brother Raymond.

"That one's a real cheapo," Noble said. "In the seventies, the original was huge, a four-hundred-dollar Northern soul record. Dudes trying to buy copies called Raymond, who produced it, and he just said he'd press it again. The value is low, even though the mix on the new one is better."

Noble took the record off. Sklute put on "Feel It," by the Rising Sun, a Florida soul group of Jamaican origin better known for the rare sides "Good Loving" and "One Night Affair." " 'Good Loving' is a version of 'One Night Affair' where the singer makes all these true-love pledges, stuff like 'I want you to be my wife,' " Noble said. "They did the same exact song with different lyrics. It's 'I don't want to love you. All I want is a one-night affair.' I like the evil version better."

" 'Feel It' isn't a great record. I sell it for the sweet side," Sklute said, indicating the ballad on the back, "Gettin' Is Kinda Cool Now." "I always keep it in the store for Jamaican collections."

"Jamaicans love the sweet side," Noble said.

Until January, Noble was, in addition to a bandleader and a collector, a record-store owner: for a decade, he ran a shop called Lotus Land, in Milwaukee. "Owning a store is funny, because the things that you display on the walls and the things you're proud of, well, they're not necessarily the same things," he said.

"Those goals can be at odds sometimes," Sklute said. "I opened in 2005, but we moved to this location right as the economy fell apart. I had to throw out the conventional wisdom, which is that you're not doing anything unless you're finding new things. …

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