“MAKING MUSIC FOR YOU” THE HISTORY OF MUSIC FACTORY PART ONE
BY URI DALAL
1312 Kings Highway, Brooklyn only months before it closed it’s doors after 33 years of legendary history including pioneering what would become the Dj Specialty shop concept that helped shape New York City Dance Music Culture for decades.
CHAPTER ONE: STEVEN’S STEREO
1974. Steven’s Stereo was the name of my father’s first business of his own. Located in Union Square on the corner of E14th St. and 4th Avenue in Manhattan (a tiny storefront in the MAYS department store building which would eventually be bought and torn down, now home to a Medical facility, a Starbucks, A D’agostino Supermarket and Video Game shop). He sold mainly cameras, film and like any good middle eastern businessman, he dabbled in selling stereos and electronics. The selling of stereos made having vinyl in the store a necessity After splitting with his wife, he would move into Greenwich Village and venture out into the blossoming disco scene of 1970’s Manhattan, where he fell head over heels in love with the music. He would eventually specialize in 12″ Disco Singles.
WEST 12th STREET
Recently divorced from my mother, my father moved into the West Village (W12th bet. 5th and 6th, you gagging yet?) from New Jersey and I spent every weekend & summer with him at his store and his apartment. He used to bring my sister and I home a new LP record or 45 single every week and gave us two matching little kiddie victrolas to play them on.
He would later realize the mistake in buying us each our own copy of everything, we immediately became obsessed with all music and our budding record collections. We were so spoiled we insisted in having our own copies of everything! That meant buying two copies of Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume One. Two copies of Elton John’s’Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ double LP now that we heard the greatest hits and decided that Elton John & Bernie Taupin were the greatest songwriters in the world… He would complain in his Israeli accent, “…WHY CAN’T YOU TWO SHARE? WHY DO YOU NEED TWO CHEAP TRICK AT BUDOKAN? WHY? WHY TWO KISS ALIVE?!! IT’S A DOUBLE LP!!”
Even at the age of 5 it literally took me a about half a second to comprehend the extreme difference between New York City and the West Village where he set up his bachelor pad on West 12th street between 5th and 6th Avenue. This 1 bedroom flat had a fireplace and a wicked view of towers and steeple of the hauntingly beautiful First Presbyterian Church up the street, beads separating the bedroom from living room, and my favorite possession of my father’s: a giant wall-size promotional poster of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band album cover that literally stretched from floor to celling. I would imagine that this shoe box apt costs millions at this point.
What’s important to the story here is what that poster represented to me. We were constantly listening to music there. I would lay in his bed and study every face in that album cover intensely, memorize every curve and line while the album played over and over.
The brilliant soundtrack of those years sits below these words for you. It was a beautiful moment in dance music history. It was literally two minutes before ‘normal’ people started listening to Disco – a few seconds before it became acceptable, distorted by housewives and suits and people who should never be in a nightclub doing cocaine, poppers and drinking, partying beside Grace Jones and fucking Felipe from the Village People! I’ve always blamed the ‘norms’ for Country Music being all the rage on the radio in the 70’s and for Glen Campbell having a ‘playground in his mind’. In my world, Sigmund was a rotten Sea Monster, and Davy Jones was still alive.
So what do normal people do? The make the special and unique DULL. They make ‘Disraeli Gears’ into ‘Layla Unplugged’. They turn The Clash into Green Day. Meanwhile in Germany, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Brian Eno are recording ‘Low’, Kiss is kicking the ass of the dying Glam scene, the NY Dolls are about to get a fix, and the Ramones are practicing around the block from my dad’s shop. Elton releases Captain Fantastic. For me this is a very exciting time to be a music fan.
ANYHOO – Eventually my father hooked up with the owner of the Music Factory record shop chain which I believe started with the location in Times Square NYC (now a Duane Reade – how surprising lol). There were four locations total. Times Square, Jamaica Queens, the Staten Island Mall (my least favorite and least Music Factory-esque location of all time, totally lame) and finally the location my father became a partner: 1312 Kings Highway, Brooklyn NY 11229.