The Record Keepers: Dan Austin

Admirer of the obscure
Dan Austin - vinyl
Photo: IStock

On the second Saturday of every month since April 2014, the Motor City Soul Club has filled the Marble Bar with rare jams from the 1960s and ’70s. Dan Austin, along with pals Erica Aytes and Peoples Records store owner Brad Hales, revels in turning on listeners with lost dance-floor classics, which means Austin is constantly on the lookout for rare soul vinyl.

One of Austin’s current favorite finds is “The Key to My Happiness” by The Charades, which he says is “a 45 I’ve been after for, like, five or six years.” But his all-timer is an “obscure Betty Wright 45 that she put out on a small label out of Florida when she was 14 years old. … It’s called ‘Mr. Lucky,’ and it’s sort of a trademark of my sets at Motor City Soul Club events.”

But even a guy with 2,000-plus LPs and countless 45s still has a holy grail record.

“This one changes every couple of years, but right now it’s a 45 by Martha Starr called ‘Love Is the Only Solution’ on Thelma [Records],” Austin says. “It’s just the epitome of Detroit soul for me. Massive sound. Great hook. Undeniably danceable. Sadly, the Brits absconded with pretty much every copy known to man back in the ’70s and ’80s, so I haven’t been able to find one in the wild — and I can’t afford the price to repatriate one from online, even if one turned up for sale. There have been only two originals to sell on eBay in the last seven years.”