March 13, 2015
To accompany our feature “Something Like A Phenomenon: The Complete 99 Records Story”, explore the visual history of the near-mythical imprint which for an all too brief moment captured the spirit of early eighties New York after dark. PHOTO: Ian Robb
Words: Tim Ross (taken from Issue #4 Tuba Frenzy, 1998)
Downtown Manhattan, 1998. You’re strolling around in the middle of Greenwich Village, just a few blocks south of Washington Square Park, when you take a wrong turn and walk by 99 MacDougal Street. There, directly underneath a rasta-flavoured headshop and an unexciting record store (called Route 66, ironically enough), is the “spot so hot you’ll scream”: a fairly indistinctive bar/restaurant called Cafe Creole. Uhh… big deal, right?
Not so fast, pedestrian. In the late 70s and early ’80s, a very different business occupied this partially below-ground space where Villagers now drink beer and eat jambalaya. The operation was 99 Records, New York’s finest underground record store for many years and a key focal point of the early 80s downtown music scene.
99 in the ’98. PHOTO: Simone Lueck
Perhaps more important, the 99 MacDougal space served as the base operations for Ed Bahlam’s 99 Records, a short-lived but highly influential independent record label that documented some of the most interesting and original sounds.
Read the story of 99 Records here, and scroll down through our gallery.
Bush Tetras “Too Many Creeps”
ESG with their parents in 1980. Clockwise from top: Renee Scroggins, Helen Scroggins, Deborah Scroggins, Marie Scroggins, Valerie Scroggins, John Scroggins. PHOTO: Paula Court
“The evening promises to be a night of pioneer rhythms.” ESG play their first headline gig at Hurrah’s, 1981.
Liquid Liquid, left to right: McGuire, Principato, Young, Hartley. PHOTO: Judy Steccone
Vivien Goldman. PHOTO: Jean-Bernard Sohiez
Vivien Goldman with Jonny Rotten, co-producer of “Launderette”. PHOTO: Kate Simon
Congo Ashanti Roy (or Roy Johnson, as he used to be known). PHOTO: Kishi Yammamoto
The first 7 EPs released on 99, all in 1981.
99 MacDougal Street today. PHOTO: Optimo