Counter Intelligence

Rock and Soul

60 minsFirst aired 26 Jan 2018
Maxwell Schiano

Revisit the history one of NYC’s longest-running record shops, a family-run institution supplying DJs with essential tracks since 1975.

It’s appropriate that for over 40 years, NYC’s Rock and Soul DJ Equipment and Records has called the Manhattan neighborhood near the Empire State Building home. As the last record shop standing from the salad days of the city’s dance music revolution, its reputation among music heads looms as tall as Gotham’s signature structure. Store owner and longtime manager Shirley Bechor understood early on that stocking records made popular by pop radio would only take the business so far; carrying titles that the shop’s growing DJ clientele hungered for, however, would keep Rock and Soul steps ahead of the competition. As disco, then hip-hop, electro, dancehall and house all broke, Rock and Soul kept crates across the five boroughs overflowing, with luminaries like Larry Levan, Funkmaster Flex, DJ Premier and Questlove all frequenting its environs. Legendary disco remixer Walter Gibbons worked there as a record clerk, a peculiar group calling itself the Wu-Tang Clan moved crazy units of their first indie single out of the store on consignment and out-of-towners in search of the sound of New York have been known to drive hours to raid the racks. Here Bechor, along with longtime staffer Keith Dumpson, revisits a few of the memorable moments from this venerable family business (now in the trusted hands of her daughter, Sharon), accompanied by tunes that serve as an across-the-decades soundtrack to New York’s streets and clubs.


Record junkies who can be found perusing the Midtown shop on any given day include include members of Wu-Tang Clan, the Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Premier and Kool DJ Red Alert.


RBMA Daily writes of the spectacularly strange rise and fall of the first DJ’s DJ and former Rock and Soul employee Walter Gibbons.


Keith Dumpson’s remix of the Philadelphia International Records house band MFSB’s “Love Is the Message” has inspired a decades-spanning debate about its origin.


Interview by Jeff Mao
Produced by Jeff Mao and Jordan Rothlein
Engineered by Denis Hürter and Tobias Jansen

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