HOUSE HUNTING #65 - METRO

“As far as vinyl disappearing from the surface of the earth, there will always be DJs, there will always be clubs and there will always be turntables at clubs”.

HOUSE HUNTING #65 - METRO

“As far as vinyl disappearing from the surface of the earth, there will always be DJs, there will always be clubs and there will always be turntables at clubs”.

Since the last instalment I’ve had the small matter of helping organise and host Ransom Note’s debut record fair at R$N Towers so been slack on the lyrics front as been sorting that and stockpiling some second-hand slices bear with me! Anyway, the fair played host to a load of vinyl vendors including choice comp curators BBE, discernible distributors Prime Direct, haute house vendors Vinyl Undergorund, prime purveyor Danny Psychemagik and Ransom Note’s very own Joe Europe with his Ears Have Eyes stable.

I also brought my House Call crates armed with choice Chi cuts including the usual Trax stax and NYC necessities on Nu Groove complete with some WBLS and WBMX wax weapons in the form of boogie bombs, disco diamonds and Italo flow – no speculator specials just house hustles and decent deals to be done… Shout to all the rack raiders who jetted down to R$N Towers nice one for the support and hope you all scored some serious slices! As well as the record dealin’ we had the More Downstairs massive recording the fair and sharing DJ duties with guests spinnin’ their scores from the fair so an excuse for a social – check out the live video...

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 Next one in the new year with a January sale on the cards so watch out for the bargain bin belter bonanza!

When I wasn’t busy hustlin’ at my House Call stall (love to my wax widow Tonya for looking after the stall even scoring a few sales!) naturally had a gander at what stock the other dealers had in their crates. Thankfully there was only a couple of second-hand stalls as I could have easily rinsed my takings! When Danny Psychemagik rocked up with his choice cache of heavy hittin’ world wax I couldn’t resist the allure of havin’ a quick-flick through his wallet burnin’ bombs as it’s not every day he’s in town. Though a lot of his recommendations over a ton he had some Bubblegum beauties including the seldom seen South African slice ‘Speed Trap’ by Spirro which houses the killer Kwaito kut ‘Ma Hero’ def my kinda dub so we did a nice lil’ trade on that… I promised myself no more as could easily rinse a few hundred – check out my Spirro score here serious…

Another stall I didn’t want to delve too deep is Aidy’s Vinyl Underground crates as knew he’d bring some serious heat down from The Midlands. Northampton probably ain’t the first town you think of when jettin’ on a crate crusade but if you’re a serious house fiend then trust me it’s worth being a Midlands marauder and venturing deep to the depths of NN1 to Vinyl Underground http://www.vinylunderground.co.uk. Housed on the second-floor of a furniture shop, Vinyl Underground has been in business for over 20 years now and continues to be a dependable source of the deeper and more discernible facets of house whether it’s the latest records or hand-picked vintage vinyl. Have an online peruse HERE http://www.vinylunderground.co.uk or better still jet up/down the M1 to dig deep in this diggers paradise. Aidy is also an ace DJ and having run nights with him years ago in my home environ of Leicester, I’ve witnessed first-hand his warm-up wizardry and serious selections so hit him up with wax wantlists! 

Anyway, havin’ a rapid rack raid through the second-hand selection I clocked that old-school Nu Groove logo (which was on the first 12 releases Nu-Groove nerd-out!) and on inspecting further it was actually one of the few gaps I needed to fill in my Nu-Groove collection – ‘Angel Of Mercy’ By Metro aka Rheji Burrell of Burrell Brothers fame. If you follow the column you probably know I’m a proper Nu Groove nerd that’s always buying up in bulk releases of the seminal stable whether to replace less mint copies or to sell on. However, trying to catch a clean copy of this Metro 12” just one of those I ain’t come across for years so had to cop that Rheji B record especially as for a tenner Aidy was sorting me out. Not long after he popped over for a peruse of my platters and it had to be fate that he pulled out an old Nu Groove he didn’t have – the lethal L.B. Bad lacquer ‘Gotta Get Some Money’ under his Keith, Kat & Blondie guise. It was only right I charge a tenner so a Nu Groove trade nice one! Love both sides of this record whether it’s the eerie atmosphere of the A-side or the sparser arrangement of the fierce dub on the flip. Get into this Nu Groove necessity here…

So it’s only right we hark back to Rheji’s house history… Now you can’t talk about Nu Groove without mentioning mainstay marvels Ron and Rheji Burrell aka the Burrell Brothers who were synonymous with the legendary label. Before releasing records they taught Kung-Fu at Rutgers University and through that came into contact with all the Newark house heads which naturally led them to check out all the local New Jersey club joints including The Hump’s hallowed house sanctuary Zanzibar. Their love of dancing was a source of inspiration for their primitive productions recorded in their Mum’s basement with their friend Tim D always recording to his boom box so he could play out at the local record store Sound Express in Plainview, New Jersey. Their tracks caught the attention of Karen Kahn and her partner Frank Mendez (the future husband and wife team who founded Nu Groove) who recognising their raw talent shopped their demos about to seek a record deal. Also hearing their potential was WBLS wizard Timmy Regisford who played one of their now more polished demos on air which was the catalyst in securing a deal with label major Virgin. The finished article was ‘I Really Like’ and though their eponymous ‘Burrell’ LP was on an R&B tip there were joints like ‘Trust In The Music’ and ‘Gonna Make You Dance’ which were precursors to the house flavour that’s synonymous with their dizzying discography on Nu Groove.

Things turned sour when there were politics between the UK and US division of the Virgin – reneging on their deal for a scheduled second LP. When recording the LP they were laying down demos of rawer, more house-orientated tracks with their prolific production prowess showing no signs of abating. Now no longer signed to Virgin and sensing an opportunity with these side-projects, Frank Mendez who served as an executive producer on their ‘Burrell’ LP approached them on setting up a label as a vehicle to release the rawer records they wanted to produce. Founded in ’88 by Frank and Karen Kahn along with Judy Russell, Nu Groove went on to become an influential institution in the New York house scene releasing over 100 records in just four years – proper pressing plant pressure! Yeah you could argue half the releases better left in the depths of the bargain bins but it also released some of the most defining records of the early 90s house era from house heroes such as Bobby Konders, Joey Beltram and of course the prolific Burrell Brothers Ron and Rheji. They kickstarted their career when Frank’s wife Karen introduced the brothers to house hero Tommy Musto whose Fourth Floor studio was housed upstairs. He invited them in and on the spot they laid down two joints with Burrell Brother Ron’s being ‘The Booty Dance’ (released as K.A.T.O.) and Rheji’s being this week’s House Hunting prime pick ‘Angel Of Mercy’ – ain’t bad for an hours recording these two Nu Groove necessities the more seldom seen slices from the catalogue. Not bad for a day’s work...

They continued to release an armada of records under an array of aliases whether working together or branching out on their own with Ron recording as Aphrodisiac, Equation and K.A.T.O. and Rheji’s guises including N.Y. House’N Authority, Metro, Tech Trax Inc. and The Utopia Project. Sticking with Burrell Brother Rheji and he launched Nu Groove with ‘Feel The Luv’ as Tech Trax Inc. however he’s best known for his later EP’s which include returning to his Metro moniker again releasing the ‘$1.15 Please’ EP with my House Hunting hint being the deep majesty of ‘Brownstone Express’ pure paradise… Other EP’s worth checking out include the ‘File’ EP under his ‘The Utopia Project’ pseudonym (‘File #3’ my fave those synths!), the ‘Tech Trax Inc.’ EP including the sublime ‘State Of The Art’ (opt for the more ethereal ‘Unautomated Mix’) and the more obscure ‘Instrumental Ward’ EP under his Asylum alias – all about ‘Vibez’ on this one choice club cut (needs a longer edit 3 mins ain’t enough!). Check ‘em all out here…

Though it’s hard to pick a fave, my recommended Rheji releases have to be his N.Y. House’N Authority hotplates. He first launched this alias on NG 015 with a series of raw rhythms named after NYC house projects with ‘Dyckman House’ and ‘Ravenswood House’ my prime picks. However, if there’s one N.Y. House’N Authority EP that has to adorn your rack it’s got to be the ‘APT.’ EP – I ain’t hypin’ when saying this is the Nu-Groove necessity all killer no filler whether it’s the steamy acid of ‘Apt. 1A’, the soaring strings of ‘Apt. 1B’, the boss bassline a la Beltram on ‘Apt. 2A’ or the early-morning ecstasy of both ‘Apt. 3A’ and ‘Apt. 3B’. If there’s one record that represents the label’s flavour and ethos this is the one… Rheji revisited N.Y. House’N Authority in the twilight years of Nu Groove with another EP (NG 094) with my choice cuts being ‘Adequate Lighting’ (that bassline!) and the jazzier joint ‘Landscaping’. As well as the three Nu Groove EP’s Rheji released a N.Y. House’N Authority LP on SBK Records outta the UK – this SBK slice definitely worth seeking… My advice leave the vocal joints on the A-Side and flip straight for the instrumental tracks all B-Side bombs with my top tips being ‘Central Park’, ‘Park Avenue South’ and ‘The Village’ – let’s now get into all those N.Y. House’N Authority necessities…

After releasing 110 records, Frank Mendez called it a day and shut Nu Groove’s doors at Fourth Floor in ’92. Both Ron and Rheji still had projects on the go so joined Judy Russell’s start-up stable Citi Records that carried the torch. Citi housed more of Rheji’s releases under aliases such as Dance Lessons, House Neegroz, Simple Simon and S.R.O which showcased his roots with more of a NJ flavour on the deeper end of the house spectrum but with that inimitable Burrell flow. As well as releasing on Citi he also released EP’s in the early-to-mid 90s including hookin’ up with Burrell Brother Ron on the ‘BME Project’ EP for Ed Goltsman’s Bottom Line Records and releasing the ‘Track And Feel Events’ EP on Sam and Mike Weiss’ Nervous Records. After the mid-90s Rheji fell outta love with house with his career trajectory taking him into the label major route of R&B and Hip-Hop. However, the resurgence in house over the last few years has seen reissue kings Rush Hour release a comprehensive retrospective of the Burrell Brothers plus Fly By Night Music raiding Rheji’s vaults and releasing ‘The Lost Nu Groove Tapes’ a couple of years ago. A load of Rheji’s classic Nu Groove EPs have been repressed for all the reissue renegades too so you can easily cop ‘em online or even better in your nearest house stockist – there ain’t any excuse now you ain’t house if no Burrell housed in your collection…

I’ll leave you with Rheji’s lasting legacy via superior selector Gerd Janson’s tribute mix dedicated to Ron and Rheji which you can check out HERE . To quote Nu Groove founder Frank Mendez:

“As far as vinyl disappearing from the surface of the earth, there will always be DJs, there will always be clubs and there will always be turntables at clubs”.


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