Sukiyaki + Cocktail Mix

As New York prepared itself for the historic winter storm that never was, I drank cups of tea at the Crosby Street Hotel with a few folks from Sony Music Japan who were in town with a man named Rikimaru Nakamura. His father, Hachidai Nakamura was a hugely prolific and well-respected songwriter (and jazz pianist) who wrote Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 worldwide smash, “Sukiyaki” (originally titled “Ue Wo Muite Arukou”). To this day, “Sukiyaki” remains the only Japanese language song ever to top the Billboard charts. It has sold over 13 million copies. Rikimaru gave me a box-set of his father’s work called Hachidai Song Collection, released by EMI in 1999, which features cuts by some of my favorite girl-pop stars like Mieko Hirota, the Peanuts, and Sachiko Nishida. He explained that he’s currently working on a play about his father’s career and “Sukiyaki” and how it became to be such a legendary record. He said he had so many stories about that one song that it was difficult to know which ones to focus on for the play. Unfortunately my very poor Japanese (I dedicated my life to learning the … Read more


Friends + music lovers! After many months of wishin’ and hopin’ (and thankfully, very little hustling) I’ve been given my very own party at Baby’s All Right, a gorgeous, beautifully lit venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’ve christened the party, SH-BOOM and the first date is this Friday January 2nd. Joining me behind the booth will be Josh Styles—drummer of Daddy Long Legs, co-founder of NYC’s greatly missed ’60s party, Smashed! Blocked!, husband of English goddess Sophie Thunder, and man of exemplary taste in rock n’ roll, soul + garage. We’ll be spinning in the front room, whilst the Detroit Cobras and Jonathan Toubin entertain in the back. Party starts at 10pm and it’s FREE! You can expect Japanese pop, French YĂ©-YĂ©, American R&B, British freakbeat, soul, easy listening, popcorn, soundtracks, doo wop, and mooooooore. Here’s the Facebook event page: I’m so excited…! xo-Sheila

Vinyl Mourning

Over lunch at a midtown diner, my friend Mick Patrick of Ace Records told me about a worrying discovery—the PVC (poly vinyl chloride) sleeves he used to protect his 45s had caused visible and audible damage to his vinyl. As I listened to the bad news, I pictured my own record collection, so much of it housed in the very same sleeves he was speaking of. The urge to dash home to check on my collection’s condition was delayed by a combination of denial (“Not my records!”) and disbelief. But memories of the conversation continued to irk me, and recently I decided to take the plunge and investigate. What I discovered was heart-breaking. As I pulled my 45s out of their PVC sleeves, I found the black vinyl surface sheen had turned a dull, matte dark brown, and worse, many looked like they had been splattered with an oily liquid that no amount of washing or cleaning could remove (see the Dana Gillespie 45 above). I spent day and night listening to the records, trying to hear if the visual decay had actually affected playback, but I just can’t tell. Sometimes I think I … Read more

On the Radio + 20 Girl-pop Essentials

British vinyl champions and record label, The Vinyl Factory asked me to compile a list of my top 20 sixties girl-pop 45s and to put together an accompanying mix. I steered clear of the girl-pop mega-hits and focused instead on some of my lesser-known favorites (many of which I’ve gushed about on Cha Cha Charming). You can read the list and listen to the mix here. You can also listen to the mix via the Mixcloud widget below. I’ve gotten a whole lotta love for Nippon Girls 2 so thanks to everyone for the rave reviews + support. Check out this Nippon Girls 2 display at Disk Union Records in Tokyo! Some guy on Twitter suggested I come to Tokyo and throw a “Nippon Girls” party. Yes please! I’d kill to be back on Japanese soil! Tonight I’ll be spinning an hour-long ’60s girl-pop set with Eilon Paz of Dust & Grooves on the WNYU/ 89.1 FM. You can listen live from their website. xo-Sheila Essential ’60s Girl Pop Mix by Thevinylfactory on Mixcloud

Nippon Girls 2

When news of a possible second volume of Nippon Girls reached my inbox, I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything as good as the first compilation. I couldn’t bear the thought of using half-decent songs just to fill space or having to go on a mad hunt for more top-of-the-line material. With ’60s Japanese girl-pop, you’re dealing with quite a lot of mind-numbing and generic beat ballads, and I had no desire to include songs that were anything less than awesome. I can spot a bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping compilation from miles away, and I wasn’t about to succumb to it myself. No siree, Bob! So… I decided to return to the very first “dream list” I put together when I first came up with the idea for Nippon Girls. It’s the list you compile when you have all the freedom in the world—before record labels and master rights owners and publishers and address-unknown e-mails get in the mix and crush your hopes. It’s a list of 50+ titles that are the cream of the crop. And as the music business wheels begin to spin, that list slowly, painfully gets whittled down. … Read more

Miriam Linna: Nobody’s Baby

The back cover photo of Miriam Linna’s Nobody’s Baby LP says it all. She’s squeezed in between a wall full of carboard boxes of alphabetized 45s, a portable record player, paperbacks with titles like Girl Gangs and The Lolita Lovers, and what looks like hundreds of boxed-up CDs from Norton Records, the label she founded with her husband Billy Miller. Her musical partner Sam Elwitt has just enough space for himself and an acoustic guitar, but this is clearly a place that’s barely able to contain Miriam’s boundless love for “stacks of wax” and pulp novels. She is an enthusiast of the nth degree. She co-runs Norton, plays drums in the A-Bones, heads up her own publishing company Kicks Books, DJs, and rarely goes a day without publicizing her affections for Bobby Fuller and the Ramones, Sun Ra and the Shangri Las. She pairs every venture with a palpable passion you can’t help but get swept up in. On the occasions that I’ve gotten to see her DJ, she’s always dancing behind the decks, shaking her signature fringe and mouthing every lyric to every song, as if they’re all her favorite records of all … Read more

I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy

It’s hard to imagine anyone bettering the What Four’s storming “I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy” on Columbia from ’66. It is a girl-garage cult classic. But big-time soul collector Matt Weingarden (aka Mr. Fine Wine) has dug up a less-frenzied yet far cooler version (dig that organ!) on an acetate given to him by his uncle Morris Last. We know nothing about the artist singing this spectacular rendition; not a single name is listed on the acetate. All we have to go on is “a typewritten song title and the name of the company in New York’s Brill Building where it was cut,” writes Mr. Fine Wine in the accompanying sleeve notes. B-side “Watch Out” is an even greater mystery, apparently sung by the stunning gal featured on the cover. But this acetate offers even less information on the label. Mr. Fine Wine could’ve easily just given us these two fantastic rarities from his vast collection and left the stories well alone, but instead we’re taken on a detective’s trail, stumbling upon clues that lead us not to the names behind the songs, but to a more personal place—the story of Matt’s … Read more

Opening Up

When Eilon from Dust & Grooves contacted me last winter about editing his book, I was at an all-time low. I was in the midst of a process that has been written about extensively throughout history—when your external world crumbles and everything you grab onto just turns to dust, leaving you with nowhere to turn but inside. Life’s circumstances had broken me open, and I had to look closely at all that was coming out and face it. The process was grueling, the worst I had ever endured, but there was just an ever-so-slight hint of a blessing in disguise, that in turning myself inside out and peeling away the layers I’d somehow get to the core of me, a place I’ve always strived to reach. I read a quote about Dante’s Inferno that I think nails the process: “Dante’s journey took him as low as a human being could sink, through his worst fears and most bitter truths, down to the very center of the earth. And then by continuing straight downward through the center and beyond, he suddenly headed up.” By the eighth month of this journey, I started … Read more

European DJ Vacation

I’m packing my bags for a vinyl-centric work-a-holiday, where I’ll be joining photographer Eilon Paz to host a series of book launch parties for the worldwide release of Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Vinyl Collecting. I’ll be DJing the launch parties in Amsterdam, Paris, and London along with tons of other collectors + DJs featured in the book. It’s been years since I’ve been record shopping in Amsterdam + Paris, so any tips on where to find ’60s 45s are VERY much needed! My liner notes for Nippon Girls Volume II are due next month (with an official release date in September!), so I’ll be spending my days researching ’60s Japanese beat girls in Parisian cafes. Can’t complain! All the events are free + open to the public, so please do come by if you’re in Paris or London or Amsterdam. You’ll find all the details below. I’ll be back with a report from my first stop…. Amsterdam! xo-Sheila Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting was just released in the US as the official 2014 Record Store Day book, and we’re gearing up for its international release on May 20. To … Read more

DJing Bubble & Squeak Party

I’ve just been invited to DJ a new ’60s mod party called “Bubble & Squeak” this Sunday May 4th, 2014 at Hotel Chantelle. I shall be packing my record box with Erma Franklin’s “I Don’t Want No Mama’s Boy,” Tracy Rogers’ “Baby,” Bernadette’s “L’Oiel,” Linda Gayle’s “I Got My Mojo Working” (this is SUCH a ridiculously frenzied version!), and lots more heavy girl-soul + freakbeat. Here are the full party deets: BUBBLE & SQUEAK Sunday May 4th, 2014, 10pm Hotel Chantelle, 92 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, NYC 10002 OPEN VODKA BAR: 10pm – 11pmHALF PRICE DRINKS: 11pm – midnight Facebook event: xo-Sheila ———————————————- BUBBLE AND SQUEAK is a new weekly mod dance party at the HOTEL CHANTELLE hosted by SOPHIE THUNDER and PIXIE 007. Resident DJ JEREMY BASTARD and guest DJ SHEILA B (CHA CHA CHARMING) will be spinning the finest in Moderniste Music. Starts at 10pm directly after the Improper English Roast (come early if you would like to partake in the feast