Pat. James Longo – Jersey City, NJ
Pat. doesn’t like to be photographed. He mentioned that when we first talked, and said that he need to contemplate on the idea of a stranger coming to his place and start pointing a camera at him. after a few days, he returned to me with these words ” I have actually avoided the camera my whole life (including ripping up most photos of me). But, I really love your work and trust I will not be upset. I would certainly do it. Yes.”
So I headed to Hoboken, NJ to meet Pat. He told me to wait outside of the train station and he will come and pick me up. I’ll be the big bald guy with the weird beard in a Gold Subaru Forrester. I couldn’t miss him.
He welcomed me into his house, and introduced me to his wife Allison and his little son Hank.
We walked to his study room, where he maintain his records and other collectible stuff in perfect order.
First thing I noticed is a small picture of him as a child lying beside a small framed photo of James Brown, the god father. this is really genuine. who doesn’t want to have J.B. as his god father ??
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am an artist. I was a freelance illustrator and designer for about eighteen years before getting a full time job as part of the marketing department at DataPipe which is a managed hosting company. Sometime during college I started playing drums and I have also done some writing.Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling? Do you still have it?
A: It is hard to say what the first record was because my dad was a collector and my brother and I had been receiving records from the time we were infants. I still have my first Sesame Street and Winnie The Pooh LP’s.
The first non children’s “records” I got from my Dad were cassettes of War’s Greatest Hits and The Best of The Stylistics. That same year (1976) was my first memorable record buying experience. For my tenth birthday we took the train to the city and went to J&R.; I bought Queen‘s first LP and The Mother’s of Invention live at The Filmore. My Dad told me to tell my Mom that the Band Queen was from Queens. I tried to never let her hear the Mother’s record. Not sure how Mom would have reacted to the lyrics especially “an enchilada stuffed with pickle sauce shoved up and down a donkey’s ass until he can’t come anymore.”
Q: What prompted you to start collecting?
A: My Dad was a record buyer, listener, student, or whatever you want t call it. Every Thursday night he would choose three records to listen to. He would either tell us a story about the musicians or the reason he bought the records. My brother and I were captivated by the music and the stories. We started buying records as soon as we were old enough to understand the concept. I still don’t consider myself a collector. I think of collections as stagnant and museum like. I play every record I own as well as take them with me when I DJ.
Q: Do you keep this tradition with your son Hank?
A: Hank has been exposed to music since before he was born. He even attended the last show my band ever played from the comfort of the womb. When he was a baby I’d spin records and dance him around the living room until I’d almost pass out. Of course he would just laugh and giggle. As he got older he would just say, “MORE!” and I would try my best to oblige him despite breathing like I just ran a marathon. When he was two he became quite the critic. He would
scrunch up his nose and shake his head no at songs he didn’t want to hear. Of course he did have favorites like “Mah Nà Mah Nà.” He loved both the Sesame Street version as well as the original Piero Umiliani one. He was also fascinated by the various versions of the Batman theme after seeing the Adam West Batman movie (the one that came out after the series was already a hit.) He loves the Ramones, ELO and some music he has picked up from listening to WRXP in NYC but he is a devout listener of Todd-O-Phonic Todd, Mr. Fine Wine and Rex on WFMU. We could easily listen to the Jean-Jacques Perrey & and Gershon Kingsley LP, In Sound From the Way Out! on a daily basis. It is the soundtrack to Hank’s life. This is the LP that thirty year after its release the Beastie Boys ripped for their LP of the same name. As rips go the Beasties are always very respectful. I could be just proud of him but Hank probably has better taste in music than most adults. Already our tastes are quite different making it interesting to watch him find something in the music that I may not hear or just miss when I listen. Music tastes develop just like anything else and I am lucky to be able to witness it first hand. We have a running set list called “Hank’s Hot Hits” which started as a series of cassettes. Hank demanded that there not be a tape number four because he said it just couldn’t happen yet. Regardless, there are four tapes in the series with no repeating songs. CD number one is in the works.
Q: So what is his favorite Album?
A: Hands down the Jean-Jacques Perrey & and Gershon Kingsley LP, In Sound From the Way Out!
Q: Do you let him play records all by himself? does he want to? or does he prefer to hit play on his MP3 player?
cueing it up. He is very excited.
Q: Do you remember the day when you switched from being a record listener to a record collector?
A: I don’t consider my self one or the other. I am a listener (or student) who has a lot of records. The collection is a result of my love of music.
Q: Why vinyl? Is it the sound of it ? or other romantic reason?
A: There is a warmth to the sound of vinyl that no other format can capture. I asked a mastering engineer once if I was just rationalizing this belief. He explained that the fact that the record sits on a turntable and the tone arm is lowered onto the vinyl in an open room there is an ambiance that is created around the mechanism even before the sound makes it to the speakers. There is room tone that is not present in digital formats. Actually, room tone must be added to most digital recordings. VINYL RULES!
Q: How many LP? 45s?
A: I have never counted. I would say approximately ten thousand LP’s (including 12-inches) and between 5 to 6 thousand 45′s. I am probably underestimating the 7-inches. They are stored in every possible place I have space.
Q: Any favorite genre?
A: It is easier to say what I don’t collect. I am not a fan of Show Tunes and most Classical. The core of what I collect is Punk, Jazz, R&B; / Soul / Funk (old and new), Latin, Instrumentals, Soundtracks and Progressive Rock. I love instrumentals and played in an all instrumental band for over fifteen years. I am usually searching for organ based instrumentals and guitar instrumentals when I go digging. I love Electric Blues, Jamaican, Indian, Brazilian and African music too but none of those fill an entire shelf.
Q: How do you organize the collection?
A: I am extremely organized. The collection is by genre and then alphabetized. Every record is in a plastic bag. I did say it was an obsession.
Q: What’s the deal with that box of 45s organized by instrument?
A: There are two of the 150 count 45 boxes filled with Jazz. One is just Blue Note, Prestige and Black Jazz and the other is organized by leader. Weirdly that box is organized how I see the stage so it starts with the horns, then keyboards, then bass and finally drums. The box begins with one of my favorite artists, Jimmy McGriff since he has recorded for so many different labels.
Q: Do you travel to find records? where? how often?
A: I love digging. Luckily when I toured around with my band we spent most of our time in cities with good collections. I once bought two hundred Jazz albums that were previously owned by the sister of Lou Donaldson from a bookstore in Kentucky . The records I didn’t keep paid for my trip plus I traded some of them for records that were normally out of my price range. We try to go to the Portland and Seattle areas once a year to visit family. Portland, Olympia, Eugene and Seattle have great places to go looking for records. I have spent time in Chicago and it is like being a kid in a candy store there. Electric Blues, Jazz, Soul / Funk and Punk / Alternative (I hate that term) Rock ooze from every crack and crevice there.
Q: What’s your partners’ reaction to this obsession?
A: She refers to it as 12″ thick wallpaper. We wouldn’t be together if she didn’t understand me. My collection is an extension of me. It is a biographical study.
Q: Where do you dig?
A: Big City Records in NYC remains a constant. Since I don’t have as much time as I used to dig I let the professionals do the work. I love Mississippi Records in Portland. I also scour the internet. As a vinyl junkie it is really difficult to divulge spots. It is the one selfish act I allow myself. I may not be a shark but that doesn’t mean I want others enjoying my fishing hole.
Q: Please name some rare stuff you own.
A: Sons of Darkness “Funky Thing” , apparently the Sarah Webster Fabio LP is pretty expensive, an original Bad Brains “Pay To Cum” (no sleeve unfortunately), Detention’s “Dead Rock and Rollers” 7-inch. A buddy of mine from art school was the bass player and we used to go see them play all the time. I once saw them open for False Prophets and Dead Kennedys… I think that was the bill. It was at the Show Place in Dover. I have an original Captain Beefheart Safe As Milk with the bumper sticker. I know there are probably many more I should know off the top of my head but I don’t use price guides and seem sheltered from knowing since it is not important to me. I buy them because I love them, not because they are valuable. Some of my favorite records I bought for a dollar and they probably haven’t increased in value.
Q: Is there an album / 45 that you are trying to find, unsuccessfully?
A: I have a list of them but I am convinced at this point that this one doesn’t exist. I have purchased about ten different copies of Rudolph Johnson’s “Diswa” but the song “Diswa” is not on the 7-inch. It is actually “Mr. T. J.” Every copy I have owned has this configuration. It is OK because I don’t mind taking along a few LP’s when I DJ but I REALLY want this on 7-inch. I have even tried contacting Black Jazz but have never gotten a response.
Q: Which records you like going back to at any given time. What makes them so special for you?
A: Anything by Curtis Mayfield. It doesn’t matter my mood the music touches something deep inside me. Before every local show the last record I would play before leaving my home was “The Minutemens Buzz and Howl Under the Influence of Heat” It is very inspiring and would generally get me psyched to play. Rusty Bryant “Fire Eater” Donald Byrd “Ethiopian Knights” especially for “The Little Rasti” I have about six copies of Jimmy McGriff “The Worm” That song in particular just feels right.
Q: Any favorite album art? any special reason?
A: Blue Note LP’s of the 50′s and 60′s are by far the classiest and are simply beautiful design. Reid Miles and Francis Wolfe were true visionaries.
James Brown in a Santa suit has always been a favorite from A Soulful Christmas. I don’t think any explanation is necessary there. “Maggot Brain” by Funkadelic is unforgettable and one of the most important records in my collection. Maggot Brain combines Rock and Soul elements so perfectly that it is a perfect choice for LP that best describes me. I collect a lot of the Batman records and there is a German Garage duo called Batman & Robin whose 7-inch sleeves and packaging are just amazing.
I guess as an Illustrator and Designer it is hard to pin down any one style since I love so much of what has been done. Barney Bubbles, Neon Park, Jack Davis, David Stone Martin, etc, etc, the list goes on.
Q: Man!!, you are a living musical encyclopedia. Have you ever published a public compilation with your music?
A: I have never published a public compilation of my selections but I did conceive, co-ordinate and release a compilations selected by Mr. Fine Wine. I have been a fan of Mr. Fine Wine’s show on WFMU since his very first day. I love the instrumentals he plays but he would talk over them. When I had the opportunity to do a compilation for Grooovy Sounds Unltd in NYC I approached Matt about doing an organ based all instrumental release. The fruits of our collective labor was titled “Grooovy Sounds Unltd. and Mr. Fine Wine Present Vital Organs Vol. One.” I still love that comp and “sell” it every chance I get to people I think would like it. It is long out of print but I still have a few LP copies and a box of CD’s (ugh, CD’s). The next re-issue release on the label was going to be of my selections and entitled “Pat’s Record Box” but sadly Grooovy dissolved before it came to be.
Q: Is there a specific musical instrument that attracts you when listening to music? Can you describe the feeling?
A: I am always drawn to the drums.
I hear and see rhythm in everything. Patterns and phrases. I prefer instrumentals for two reasons. The focus is on the composition and interaction of the players and not treated as background to a voice. Also you can “find’ each instrument easily in instrumentals and get into the heads of the players. I taught myself how to play drums in my twenties so I play in a very nontraditional style. I love the beat, the beat, the beat! After the drums I am always attracted to the Hammond organ (though any organ will do) and funky flute. The organ is just a monster of sound. The spinning Leslie and the pedals pumping out thunderous bass lines all accompanying sounds ranging from an electric piano to a freight train. The funky flute seems like such an underdog. How can the flute go up against drums, percussion, screaming sax, organ, electric guitar and bass yet every time it is done right it is awe inspiring.
Q: Can you spot down the ugliest, cheesiest, funniest album art cover?
A: Some budget LP’s are pretty poorly done but that is part of their charm. I have a Johnny Zamot LP where he is dressed like the Hulk and it cracks me up every time I look at it.
I have an LP where a woman is feeding acid to a horse that is both hilarious and disturbing.
The band the Dwarfs were known for shocking but it takes a lot to shock me so again I am at a loss. I guess I am really all about the music when it comes to my collection. The graphics are like icing on the cake for me. I probably react when I first buy a record but after that it is all about the music. I love liner notes. I would (and still do) listen to records and read the liner notes. I can stare at a record cover for the full duration of the LP. It is the experience of listening to an LP that makes CD’s and MP3′s so unappealing. If you didn’t grow up with this experience you probably can’t understand it but once you have done it you will never want to “pop” in a CD or kick back with your iPod again. Listening is very personal. I’m sorry what was the question?
A: Hmm, a letter and no question. An open forum. Have you ever sat with someone silently and suddenly because of it they just begin talking, and talking, and talking. That is what this open letter feels like. I guess I should have a closing thought about my collection or your project. I hope those who read this see into the art of collecting and documentation and not just as some bragging, ego driven, chest thumping competition. Each collection is extremely personal. Each photo truly does tell a story. I have difficulties with people taking photos of me. I have ripped up most of the photos of me since I was a kid. I thought a lot about this before I agreed and then I pushed my ego and personal short comings aside realizing this isn’t for me. It is for those with a curiosity to why do we do what we do? Why have we allowed a major part of our lives to become consumed with something that does not need to be so permanent? Each collection is as different as the collector. I know I have spent countless hours editing and trimming my collection. Filing and re-filing. Long after I am gone anyone who comes across it will know me. Hopefully I can leave this to my son and he can then shape it into a portrait of himself. Sell what he thinks is crap and add what he feels is gold. Of course we all know that one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor and we should never expect anyone to see us the way we see ourselves. The same is true of music. Maybe that is why there is music. Without discussion we can show others who we are. Listen….
You catch Pat DJing on the first Thursday of every month at D.C.’s Tavern in Hoboken,