(Original image © Andrew Bowman)
OK so for my tenth edition instead of me killing you with my overlong sentences and waxing lyrical about some B-side obscurity you really couldn’t give a s**t about I thought I present you with a House Hunting exclusive and get some choice DJs, producers, behind-the-counter record shop guys and house vinyl lovers to wax lyrical about their favourite house record find. So forget Juno charts and Discogs wantlists here’s a top 10 in house hunting finds – the art of diggin’ deep and striking gold like these cats is where it’s at read on…
The Maschine maestro and motor city marvel is currently one of Detroit’s most influential DJs and producers. Initially releasing the now collectable ‘Deep Transportation’ EP’s in the mid 90’s on Rick Wade’s Harmonie Park imprint, Mike has since released on a series of choice labels such as Cache Records, Downbeat, Third Ear Recordings and Sushitech records – not to mention his own Deep Transportation and S Y N T H imprint with the latter showcasing his synth odysseys using the Waldorf Wave. His latest release is his remix for Motor City Drum Ensemble which you can check here:
Having previously worked in the legendary Record Time, Mike is a true head and knows the art of diggin’ deep – here’s his most recent raid…
CASSIO – ‘BABY LOVE’ – EASY STREET RECORDS
David Mancuso’s nephew used to buy records off me when I worked in the record shop and recently I had the opportunity to go through his insane record collection in Springfield Mass. I found some Disco classics including a GrandMaster Flowers’ copy of Loleatta Holloway’s ‘Catch Me On The Rebound’ (Walter Gibbons Mix), a rare test pressing of ‘Din Daa Daa’ by George Kranz and a white label of D-Train’s ‘You’re The One For Me’. However in terms of house I dug out a test pressing of ‘Baby Love’ by Cassio. I was a big Blaze fan and this was an all-time classic deep house record.
JASON SPINKS (KRISTINA RECORDS)
Jason runs purveyors’ paradise and discernible Dalston house den Kristina Records that has established itself as one of London’s best sources of underground house records (complete with superior interior!) – have an online peruse here… www.kristinarecords.com. He also supports and jets over choice house DJ’s for his Dream States night that gets the hardcore house fraternity salivating… If you want some Bank Holiday house hunting action be sure to trek over east to the London Fields Brewery this Saturday and check the pop-up vinyl market curated by Kristina Records – more info here. With his house find Jason reminisces ‘bout the days before Discogs…
RISQUE III – ‘ESSENCE OF A DREAM’ – STRIDE RECORDS INC
I was in the infancy of my employment at one of London's more notorious second hand record shops and still learning the ropes and relishing the chance to discover new things – we're talking 2002/2003 time I guess. I came into work one Monday morning and was lucky enough to spot a pile of interesting looking 80's house records in the corner. On rifling through I found this – at the time I wasn't aware of the record but obviously from the look of it and the info could tell it was definitely worth picking up. It's got all the elements of the best stuff from that time – dark, sexual emotion, spoken word vocal, standout percussion (cowbell!) and sinister chords. It really blew my mind on first listen and I still can't get enough of it. I can see how this could be considered a bit of a cheat but as a junior member of staff it was pretty hard to get your hands on records even from behind the counter – so I still consider this a top find and definitely can go down as a record that has heavily influenced and developed the sound I'm into and defined a lot of what House Music is to me. I have to admit I can't recall what I paid for it as was about 11 years ago – maybe around the £25 mark – as this was the days before Discogs had taken hold so was just happy to get my hands on it!
As well as being one of the nattiest dressers I know, Colin McBean aka Mr G also showcases his flair in the studio (or in his own words ‘G-Style’) with his funk-fuelled productions combusting with arpeggiated analogue, bottomless bass and sonorous soul complete with a heavy dose of low-end. Blurring the lines between house and techno, if you’re a true house head you gotta have one of his joints in your record bag though if you ain’t schooled be sure to check his Phoenix G label and his ridiculous live set for Boiler Room – check it out here:
Anyway like me he loves an old house record so here’s his old school flava…
DA REBELS – ‘HOUSE NATION UNDER A GROOVE’ - CLUBHOUSE
My fave find was in Toronto in a shop called Advent Days. It was a little shop on the main street above a red light (says it all) upstairs to a whole floor of records in an appalling state and a miserable man on the desk to boot! After much digging I find the sleeve to something that looked interesting – a promo copy of a Clubhouse record mmmmm… Further diggin’ and I find the record with the same stain as the sleeve – Da Rebels’ ‘House Nation Under A Groove’. Needless to say the record is badd and never fails to get me on the floor (only the other day Zip played it in Birmingham). Shocked after not hearing it for many years it still sounded great… Took me straight back to the shop ha ha!
ENRICO CRIVELLARO (ARCHIVE/NEROLI)
You may know Enrico from his days of producing under his ‘Volcov’ moniker though he also runs choice Italian imprints Archive and Neroli that have a diverse but discernible discography – whether it’s Dego & Domu droppin’ broken bombs, Theo Parrish & Trinidadian Deep serving up some haute house or getting techno titans Kirk Degiorgio and Steve Pickton aka Stasis to contribute under their As One and Soul 223 aliases. He is also a serious selector – check out his recent mix for Private London on NTS which is one of my fave mixes of the year:
Here’s his love letter to a long lost Chicago classic…
VINCENT FLOYD – ‘CRUISING’ – RESOUND RECORDS
I remember in 89-90 going every week to my local store Le Disque in Verona to check the US imports. Back then with no internet or eBay/Discogs you had to be checking regularly the store to make sure you didn’t miss the latest Nu Groove, House Jam or Dance Mania release. They used to drive to the distributors in Milan weekly and be back later in the afternoon and open the boxes and play the new records on the main system and you had to be quick to decide if you wanted a record or not as there were usually 8-10 DJs listening and often 5-6 copies of each import. I once had the chance to go with them to one of those distributors called Non Stop and there I met one of the guys who was making the orders every week. As he saw I was looking for certain records he gave me a bunch of Trax, Muzique, Transmat releases… and also this intriguing red labelled 12”: ‘Cruising’ by Vincent Floyd on Resound Records. He explained he just ordered five of them so I was very lucky to get it and that it would be impossible for other Italian DJs to find it. For years I kept it like a holy grail and managed to get a second copy in the 2000s. The link to the associated label Gherkin (one of my all-time favourites), the sound that reminded me of Gherkin Jerks’ ‘Red Planet’ and its whole obscure aura make this a very special record to me. Vincent Floyd made some other incredibly deep tracks and I am happy Rush Hour is putting out some of his unreleased music soon.
No he’s not a Hajduk Split striker but infact my House Hunting partner… After sharing the dancefloor at choice house night Thunder and always ending up at his Finsbury Park gaff for a Thunder afters we realised we shared a mutual love in gettin’ our fingers dusty in the old house crates – it was love at first site… Anyway like me Tomi has a penchant for vintage house 12” and is just as adept as me in unearthing a long lost house gem – here’s a killer find he dug out at his old favourite haunt…
GEMINI – ‘IN MY HEAD’ – CLASSIC
Notting Hill Soul & Dance Exchange was somewhere I used to visit regularly between 2000 – 2008 as you couldn’t leave without picking some gems up. I was lucky to pick up a copy of the ‘In My Head’ EP by Gemini aka Spencer Kincy for just a few quid. Like the rest of Spencer’s catalogue, it goes for a small fortune now. Released in 1998 on Luke Solomon and Derrick Carter’s Classic imprint, it’s a standout 12” on the label. Most head to the title track but it’s ‘At The Café’ I love – it’s slow and bouncy makin’ it perfect for early doors. If you’re lucky enough to come across a copy, buy it like every other Gemini record!
MILES SIMPSON (THUNDER)
I had to get a contribution from Miles as though he has militant views in the essence of true house (don’t bother debating with him you won’t win…) he is after all like me a Gherkin geek and Chi-Town house enthusiast who loves diggin’ for some obscure subsidiary that most heads will pass up on. He also restored my faith in goin’ out with his Thunder night – 200 ‘proper heads’ gettin’ down in the intimate enclave of Dalston’s Dance Tunnel with choice guests such as Gene Hunt, DJ Nature, Rahann, Rick Wilhite, Chez Damier, Keith Worthy and DJ Sprinkles pure sweat on the walls… Next month Detroit Don Marcellus Pittman is guesting so do the right thing and get down to the Dance Tunnel for a flash of Thunder – event details here. Here’s his house hunting finds on an iconic imprint in the deepest depths of North London…
JAQUARIUS ‘LOVE IS HAPPINESS’, MYSTIC ‘HOUSE GIRL’ & MYOSHI MORRIS ‘MUZIK’ – ROCKIN’ HOUSE RECORDS
Being a bit of cheapskate, I’ve got a fair few tales of rummaging around in basements and uncovering cheap, great house records. I have many more tales of sifting through dross for hours on end, but let’s not talk about that! There is one find that stands out because of the obscurity of the records and the randomness of the location I found them. Around 1993 I was working in Edmonton and I have to say the digging opportunities were pretty scarce. There were a few charities shops and not much else other than the local Cash Convertor, which didn’t offer up much at all. But one day I popped in and there was a bunch of house records I didn’t recognise. The signs were good though, the plain white sleeve decorated with day-glo stickers proclaiming “HOUSE MUSIC – Original Rocking Design”, the label address was in Chicago, the release date was perfect, 1988, and I did know Mike Dunn, one of the remixers. So I thought these are worth a punt and I duly parted with the princely sum of £3 for all three records, taking home Jaquarius ‘Love Is Happiness’, Mystic ‘House Girl’ and Myoshi Morris ‘Muzik’ all on Rockin’ House Records. All are brilliant, with ‘Love is Happiness’ being one of the rarest and best examples of Chicago acid, ‘House Girl’ was eventually re-pressed by Clone, and ‘Muzik’ is actually the one that I’ve played out most of all. What makes this find all the more unusual is that Rockin’ House suffered from poor distribution, so I’ve no idea how three records from this label ended up in a North London pawn shop. I’m happy they did though.
TEAMY (WRONG ISLAND COMMUNICATIONS)
Not content in running the weird and wonderful Wrong Island Communications imprint (check the lucid acid of ‘The Rites Of Wrong’ LP by Automatic Tasty) which gets a house hunting gold star for including old-school inserts and out-there artwork, Teamy also curates the South Place rooftop sojourns that have recently guested DJ heavyweights such as Neville Watson, Linkwood, Maurice Fulton and Rahaan. If goin’ Carnival west-side is a ‘mare for you then jet east to the majestic Madison Rooftop as Dixon Basement Avenue Jams are bringin’ some Glaswegian grit and Ayrshire acid to show London Town how it’s done – check here for details check here for details. So, Teamy shows us the art of diggin’ deep for a house holy grail…
JAMES ‘JACK RABBIT’ MARTIN – ‘ONLY WANTED TO BE’ (ACID MIX) – WHITE LABEL PROMO
I much prefer going to second hand or charity shops when record shopping. There's something about ducking down into the bins on the floor and raking thru piles of No Jacket Required to find that lost gem or good deal. The real winners for me are the 'Worth a Punt' records. The ones that yr not sure about; the label is right but the year is on the cusp of when the output went downhill; you sort of recognise the producer but not the artist; and you can't listen to as there's no listening post. So you gamble as it's only a quid.
Sometimes you get a decent tune, more often than not you get a piece of shite. Once in a while you hit proper gold though. There was a record shop down in the south side of Glasgow in a proper old school shopping centre; it sold second hand rock records and the owner knew his onions on that front, but most of the dance records just got put in pound bins under the racks. My good buddy David Barbarossa and I would go in once a week and rake about (which was a bit nerve-wracking for me as he knows much more about music than I but that kept me in my toes). I think we'd been in a week before and David had found an old boogie jam called Night Work
which turned out to be a hen's teeth number worth about £40 so I was determined not to miss out.
Somewhere in the pound bins (I'm such a freak I can even tell you it was on the right hand side of the left hand aisle about halfway into the shop), I picked up a black sleeved promo with a handwritten label. Now normally that's not a great sign but something perked my interest. I think it was the phrase 'acid mix'. I had a proper look what was written and somewhere deep in this dump of a brain the artist James Jackrabbit Martin registered as being 'worth a punt'. I got home and looked it up to be reminded that this guy is like the Robert Johnson of house - there's one photo, not much info but a lot of hype around this guy. The record was listed a few times on discos for £150.
Most of the time I don't end up thinking much about the story behind how the record came to be there; who sold it/gave it away, and why. But this one's such a rare find I can't help but wonder how it got from Chicago to Glasgow, let alone to a pound bin in a Rock & Roll shop. The mystery of this record is nearly as great as the man who made the music in the first place.
DAVE JARVIS (MOTON RECORDS INC/MACHINE RECORDS INC)
One of the soundest behind-the-counter guys I know (nice one for sortin’ us with that Faith x Stussy tee!), you can catch Dave serving up the platters that matter at Hoxton’s new wax haunt Love Vinyl. He also co-runs the delectable disco re-edit record stable Moton Records Inc – their latest limited edition blue vinyl 12” has just touched down check it out here:
You can catch Dave spinnin’ and supporting the house hierarchy of Mike Huckaby, Rahaan, DJ Spen, Jimpster, Phil Asher and more this Sunday at The Date ‘Carnival Sunday’ Special at Loft Studios – he may even drop this charity shop find…
LARRY JOSEPH & SCIENCE – ‘FEELING THAT SOUND EFFECT’ – SMOKIN’
I remember back in ‘91 I was visiting a friend up in Muswell Hill in London. I stumbled across a charity shop and of course decided to go in. At the back of the shop was a pile of random LP’s and 12's… As I was flicking through I came across a 12” that had the Smokin’ imprint – I knew the label because of buying ‘The Real Life’ by Corporation Of One. So I paid the pound and that night I got to play this beauty LARRY JOSPEH & SCIENCE- FEELING THAT SOUND EFFECT – WOW!!! I had never heard of this at all! Proper Roland drums and deep chord synths that result in a fantastic production from Larry Joseph. I will never part with this ever…
TONKA (WRDM/RAN$OM NOTE)
As things gettin’ a bit deep it’s only right that I drop a curveball and get a contribution from the acid-tongued aggravator and Midlands messiah himself Tonka to add a bit of lightness to proceedings. As well as telling us what to think and what to listen to on his ‘Weekly Review of Dance Music’ – http://tonkawrdm.blogspot.co.uk/ – Tonka also contributes to The Ransom Note with his acerbic wit and caustic world view keepin’ it real amongst the heads gettin’ too serious about Roland TR-808s and a new Trilogy Tapes record. His first ever record purchase is not for the faint-hearted…
DJ JEAN – ‘THE LAUNCH’ – MO’BIZZ RECORDINGS
Why everyone goes mad about vinyl is beyond me. You pay about £12.99 for the A-side and two or three remixes max, and you can’t even play them in your car! You spend the same amount of money for a CD album with anything between ten and fifteen songs on, and you can play them in loads of different machines. No wonder we're still in a fucking credit crunch; people are dropping their hard earned cash on vinyl because dance snobs say it's cool when, in my honest and ultimate opinion, CDs are cost effective, space effective and they look far more futuristic and 'cooler' than a massive black circle ever will.
Saying that, The Launch by DJ Jean was the first 12" vinyl house record I ever bought, and I’ll never forget how special it felt to have that 180g slab of wax in my mitts. In the summer of 1999 I handed over £12.99 to that rude skinny ginger fucker at Hard To Find Records in Birmingham, the one whose face looked like it was being sucked backwards into his skull by a rare brain disease. That sorry-looking virgin handed back the record with a scowl and I went back home to listen to it on my brand new Gemini belt drive decks. It was then that I realised that if I wanted to be DJ I had to buy more than one record. I went back the next day and bought Big Love by Pete Heller.
The Launch still holds up and goes down well today. I remember Move D (pronounced Moved) dropping it at an Electric Minds loft party in 2011. The place went fucking mental. In the early noughties, I used to play the DJ Disco Remix out in the Pen and Wig’s Sunday night hard house night in Walsall. It had the “5 4 3 2 1 Ignition” vocal, a donk between every beat, loads of scratching and those famous DJ Jean trumpets. Lovely stuff.
Keeping the spirit of Chicago alive with his hardware house odysseys, Nigel Rogers aka Perseus Traxx has released on a plethora of choice labels that join the dots between the classic sounds of house with an ear open to the future including Bunker Records, M>O>S Recordings, BOE Recordings, Snuff Traxx, Chiwax, Cyber Dance Records and his own Future Flash imprint. Be sure to check out his latest 12” on Chiwax:For his house find Nigel extols the virtues of one of the most influential house records with this fitting eulogy…
FINGERS INC – ‘CAN YOU FEEL IT’ – DESIRE RECORDS
This story takes place in what must have been 1993 as I already had a pair of old 1970ʼs integrated cassette, radio, record player wooden sided things, with slip mats Iʼd carefully cut from felt and a system of mixing involving the use of volumes on each of the units. I hadnʼt yet got vari-speed decks or my Made To Fade mixer, but I was definitely well on my way to being a deejay, as Iʼd been buying records as and where I could since Iʼd heard acid music on a BBC documentary about how it was probably Satan himself organising the parties. I can remember it being 1993 as thatʼs when the Novation Bass Station came out, and I began a minor form of machine lust, which was one of the features of my crate digging adventure.
It was summer, and I was in Bournemouth or Christchurch. I have family there and we would invariably visit during the summer. As mentioned, I had an interest in records by this point, although I didnʼt go out anywhere, being too young, nor did I have a clue what was cool and what was fool. Labels became familiar through trial and error and names and dates had begun to give things away. I had no internet, no real source of information, but was putting ideas together myself. Waking up bright and early, I walked down Christchurch Road towards Bournemouth, with the morning sun shining bright, and pockets that were flammable enough to let money burn holes in them on a regular basis. There were lots of shops which had antiques, bric-a-brac and general junk, often having a vast array of second hand records. It was about 10:30 am and hardly anywhere was open. A total mystery to me, especially as it wasnʼt a Sunday (Sunday trading laws were only enacted in the UK a few years later). Nevertheless I found a shop selling musical bits and bob which was open. There was a Boss DR 660 drum machine in the window and I went in to give it a go. The shop owner wasnʼt helpful. Not in the “holier than thou” way in which many people experience a bad record shop, but he simply didnʼt know how to operate the machine. Iʼd never touched a drum machine before, it could all be a mistake or work out really well, though would have taken the entirety of the £50 or £70 in my pocket leaving nothing for the rest of the holiday, BUT I’D HAVE A DRUM MACHINE! I needed time to reflect on this, and in a moment of sanity returned the machine to him and said Iʼd have to give it some thought. I was so torn, but knew Iʼd done the right thing as I thought my way down the road into a shop which had a large array of second hand records. I whiled away two hours, looking at every single record in the shop (Iʼm not sure if there was a record player I could have listened to things on, that hadnʼt even occurred to me) laboriously flicking my way through loads of them and creating a small collection of possibilities. I narrowed it down by a strange combination of prices and names. Obviously white labels seemed cool, and Iʼd found one that I thought might be good. It was a grubby looking label with the relief of a musical note stamped onto it. There the only additional information was “FINGERS INC Can You Feel It?”
It was only in 1995 when I moved to York (I now had vari-speed decks and still had parents who couldnʼt understand why Iʼd need to play more than one record at once) that I realised itʼs significance. Listening to house compilations with fellow students who grew up going to the Haçienda in Manchester, I recognised a track, but it was different, there were no vocals. Being older and having bought many more records, and being somewhere I was going out to clubs and parties and hearing the music I liked, this was still the prize of my collection. Not all stories have a happy ending though. There arenʼt many records Iʼve lost, but this is the one. Iʼm careful when playing but, maybe it went into someone elseʼs bag during one of many parties at the Arts Centre in York, after I left it spinning on the deck, maybe it was taken in a more unscrupulous way, possibly it evaporated into the sweaty ether of a room full of people getting down to house music, itʼs purpose fulfilled. Either way I donʼt know when it went nor where.
For many the whole “In the beginning there was Jack” sample is overused, and Iʼm inclined to agree, but the track is so much more than that, and for me itʼs a very vivid memory of a time when I was solitary and discovering music and now with hindsight and amazing piece of luck combined with an affirmation of impeccable taste. Itʼs been repressed numerous times, and is available on Trax Records, but now the track I like is for some reason labelled as the Chuck D remix, and I have no idea why as itʼs nothing to do with Chuck D and it doesnʼt rest easily with me. I could buy a repress I suppose, with the earlier versions, but mine was WANTX 6, the white label 1988 release on Desire Records, (founded in 1983 in the UK but then relaunched in 1988 putting out house music as a subdivision of Fiction Records) and for me is a timeless classic which sums up what house music is about – and this is fresh!
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