Mr. Finewine, Brooklyn, NY
Please welcome, the 3rd Crate Digger in this series. a 45 collector, a DJ and a radio show host…. MR. Finewine.
Matt Fine Wine, 44, lives in Brooklyn NY. He’s a magazine editor and a Funk & Soul DJ. collects mostly 45s.
Q: What prompted you to start collecting?
A: I grew up in Detroit and was listening to CKLW radio, a renowned, influential station just across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, from about the time I was 5. The first record I bought was something I heard on CKLW and fell in love with: “Ben” by Michael Jackson, from the rat movie of the same name. I was obsessed with it at age 8. Soon after that, I moved on from CKLW to the local great AM oldies
station, WHND, “Honey Radio.” I listened to that for years. The 45-buying floodgates were open.
Q: What was your first album?
A: Just before I bought that first 45, my parents had given me as a birthday
present a Sears phonograph and three LPs that were recommended to them by some teenagers hanging around the Sears record department: Spooky Tooth, Vanilla Fudge, and Cheech & Chong.
Q: What was your initial interest in music? have you got influenced by your family? did you play any musical instrument?
A: I was an indifferent violinist from about 7 to 11 and attended a music school that was way too serious for me. My mother’s side of the family is quite musical: An ancestor in Poland was a locally famous violinist; a cousin of mine recorded and toured as half of a duet with Odetta; my uncle owned a Detroit record label and a big record distributor in the sixties and early seventies and was also a popular guitar teacher who, believe it or not, taught John Lee Hooker how to play standard chords! And I just found out my little cousin Sam, a teenage crooner, is about to sign with Warner Bros., allegedly.
Q: why vinyl? and why predominantly 45s?
A: The 45 is such a pure object, its form completely matched to its function.
It’s physically beautiful; you can hold it in your hand and stare at it, and
magically, when you place it on a special device, it plays a song. As an
added bonus, if you flip it over, it usually plays another song. Sometimes
it even smells really good. LPs lack that purity. They have too much going on, too many loose ends.
Q: Do you travel to find records? where? how often?
A: Yes, I do travel occasionally to find records, but not as often as I once did, because I don’t have the same amount of disposable income I once had. Most recently I looked through a barnful of records in Connecticut and came away with an unknown Latin Boogaloo 45 as well as some nice mint upgrades on mid-range stuff. Last year I got a bum steer on some records in Buffalo and wasted an entire day and hundreds of dollars chasing down what turned out to be a picked-over load of junk. But anywhere I travel for whatever reason, I manage to poke around for records.
Q: How do you organize the collection?
A: I have three long white cardboard boxes of Detroit 45s, alphabetized by
label; ditto for New Orleans. I have 13 long white boxes of non-Detroit,
non-New Orleans 45s alphabetized by artist. Then I have dozens more boxes
and many mounds of completely un-organized Detroit, New Orleans, and
Q: Have you ever battled for a rare record? what happened?
A: Battled physically? No; I’d have to rethink my obsession if it ever came to that. That said, there have been some dealers and other collectors I’ve wanted to beat up.
Q: tell me a crazy story over a certain record
A: One of my most prized possessions is a 45 I got about eight years ago from
a dear old friend back home in Detroit. She used to scour flea markets for a certain kind of ceramic thing whose details escape me, and she woke me up in Brooklyn with a phone call one Saturday morning to say she was making her rounds and had come upon a record dealer she’d never seen before with a few boxes of 45s; did I want her to go through them over the phone? Sure, I said, shaking the sleep out of my head and of course expecting the worst. Not surprisingly she rattled off a bunch of easy Motown artists and titles and a lot of real garbage. I was starting to doze off when the surprise finally came: “Little Jimmy Scott on Giant.” I asked her the title. “It Rained 40 Days and Nights.” Yeah, grab that one for me, please. I paid her 5 bucks for it the next time I saw her. It’s a great sixties soul record I’d been after for a while. The postscript to this story is crushingly horrible, and the reason I treasure this record so much: A couple years later, my wonderful friend was murdered by her husband.
Q: how many LP? 45s?
A: I never really knew till I moved last year, but because of the number of boxes, I was able to estimate that I have around 13,000 45s. Maybe 1,500 LPs.
Q: What is your most expensive 45?
A: I have several one-of-a-kind records that would be impossible to put a price on without, I guess, offering them on the open market. One of my favorite one-offs is an alternate take of a famous Tony Alvon and the Bel-Airs single. They did a very sought-after instrumental 45 on Atlantic called “Sexy Coffee Pot”; the flip side is a vocal version of the same track called “Boom Boom Boom.” Well, at a record fair a few years ago, I found a Virtue acetate of a stripped-down version of “Boom Boom Boom” complete with a vocal breakdown that just kills me. And everyone else I play it for.
Q: Any specific genre? why ? how do you connect to it? network?
A: Yeah, I network. I collect R&B;, soul, and funk 45s, mainly, and I dabble in doo-wop, blues, and gospel, though I consider myself a complete novice in those last three categories. I also like to pick up oddball things in all genres.
Q: can you name 5 of your rarest 45′s?
A: Not sure how to define rarest, but here are five singles off the top of my head that (a) I love and (b) there aren’t too many (if any) other copies
of that I know of in “the collectors’ world”:
1. The aforementioned Tony Alvon acetate
2. A mysterious circa-1970 funk acetate by I-know-not-who about “the only dance ever to be created in a foxhole in Vietnam,” which is called “The Bullet”
3. Jimmy Toliver, “Come Shine,” a pounding slab of raw L.A. blues funk
4. Francis Burr, “I Say No, No More,” some unique and sublime Chicago R&B;
5. Oh, man, here’s one that I sold last year because I got an offer I couldn’t refuse, but it’s another one-off, as far as I know, and I wish I still had it: Little George and the Mixed Generation, “Listen,” some slamming, crazed kiddie funk
Q: favorite music labels? your favorite album ever?
A: I have dozens if not hundreds of favorite 45 labels in terms of music. Fortune Records is up there near the top, as are King and Instant and Minit and Excello and Motown and Checker/Chess. As far as label design, it’s a toss-up between a label called The Blues and one called Newark. Both are just stunningly beautiful, even to my jaded, seen-it-all eyes.
Matt also has his own radio show at www.wfmu.org worldwide, Fridays, 7 to 8 p.m.). Podcasts, all manner of live streams, and archived shows dating back seven years or so are all available at the station’s website.
Here is a shortcut to all of his podcasts.
You can hear Mr. Fine Wine spinning soul, funk, gospel, R&B;, and blues 45’s in NYC at:
Botanica – 47 E. Houston St. every Wednesday – 10pm till late. Free
One Saturday a month: Bumpshop at APT 419 West 13th Street, 10:30 till 4, $10. A soul and funk dance party. www.bumpshopnyc.com
Honeysuckle: The third Saturday of every month at Legion (790 Metropolitan
Avenue, Williamsburg), 10 till 4, free.
Here is the Tracklisting for what’s playing now:
1. Tears – 1808 East Broad (Chord)
2. Volcanos – No Trespassing (Virtue)
3. Hank Ballard – I’m a Junkie for My Baby’s Love (Chess)
4. Danny Small – Peace Sign (Pisces)
5. Mel Hueston – Time and Patience (Chanson)
6. Williams Sisters – He’s Got Everything You Need (Jewel)
7. Frisco Singers – My Girl’s a-Waiting (Chess)
8. Lolita R. Smith -Your Love and My Money (Varbee)
9. Hollidays – I Lost You (Groove City)
10. unknown – Our Last Goodbye (unlabeled Ollie McLaughlin tape)
11. Four Sonics – Easier Said Than Done (Sport)
12. Johnny Starr – Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do (Mala)
13. Radiants – Don’t Want to Face the Truth (Twinight)
14. Visitors – What About Me (Tangerine)
15. Clovers – Try My Loving on You (Josie)
16. Fabulous Holidays – Too Many Times (Marathon)
17. Ex Saveyons – Somewhere (Smoke)
18. Soul Chargers – My Heart Beats for You (American)
19. Hart and Shorter – I Shed a Tear (La Beat)
20. Tommy Turner – I’ll Be Gone (El Bam)
Thanks so much Matt for revealing a small bit of your rich collection and musical taste.
Till the next time,