House Hunting #18 - Suburban Boyz

Aiden gets a handy tip off as he goes in search for more great records...

House Hunting #18 - Suburban Boyz

Aiden gets a handy tip off as he goes in search for more great records...

So Zaf at Love Vinyl gave me a tip off that he had hundreds of house records that hadn’t yet hit the racks which were ripe for me to dig through as he knew they’d be my flavour. As I was finishing work early on the Saturday and coincidentally Faze Action were doing a live ‘in-store’ session along with Greg Wilson this presented the perfect opportunity to check his house vaults out – I liaised with my House Hunting other half Tomi and he agreed it needed to be done…

For those of you not acquainted to ‘The Mighty Zaf’, he was at the controls at Soho’s Reckless Records for nearly twenty years and has been dealing in the more discernible facets of disco, soul, rap and funk for decades – not to mention house Holy Grails from the transatlantic triptych of Chicago, New York and New Jersey. His website houses a variety of genres which is frequented by choice DJs such as Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, Patrick Forge, Dave Lee, Keb Darge and Kon & Amir as a dependable source of super-rare and collectable black crack. He is also a serious selector having curated killer comps on acclaimed labels such as BBE and Kindred Spirits – on a house tip check out this decade old mix featuring loads of Gherkin, Dance Mania, Larry Heard and Burrell joints proper House Hunting heaven… Anyway, earlier this year he co-founded and launched Love Vinyl (along with some of London’s finest collectors and purveyors including Stuart Patterson, James Manero and Jake Holloway) with the Hoxton wax haunt already a permanent fixture in the house hunting circuit… 

So I jetted outta work at 6pm but typically the overground to Hoxton suspended due to maintenance so had to get the 55 bus – tip don’t get a bus on Oxford St at peak-time on a Saturday night Christ it was murder… I finally got to Love Vinyl over an hour later which was still buzzin’ with Faze Action and Greg Wilson holdin’ it down. Anyway, after a quick drink and social Zaf lead Tomi and myself up to the hallowed turf of the Love Vinyl loft…  He pointed out where all the house records were and no messin’ we got diggin’ deep… Amongst the house UFO’s records pulled out included Balance’s first release by C.V.O (Tomi you shoulda copped that!), a sealed copy of the obscure secret weapon that is ‘Kisses’ by Dionne (all about the Art Forest Dub proper face-melter) and wax weapons on various labels like Dance Mania, Nu Groove, Rhythm Beat… Anyway, amongst the dusty gems Tomi unearthed a Power Music double-pack by DJ Duke complete with Klubb Kidz mixes and a DJ Pierre remix (you can never have too much Wild Pitch…) plus a killer John Morales comp on BBE. Typically I kept diggin’ out boss house records I already had but just as I was coming to the end of the racks I unearthed a Dance Mania obscurity I’d been after for years…

We went back downstairs and Tomi was armed with an arsenal of vinyl that could easily equate to a month’s rent – whilst he was gettin’ those priced I went back to the shop floor racks and laid my eyes on a mint copy of the ‘I’ll Never Let You Go’ by William S. I already have a copy but mine ain’t in great shape and this one Zaf’s got has THAT instrumental version! It was serious £££’s but I negotiated twenty quid off (still dented my wallet) as I was also coppin’ the Dance Mania 12” too. Though I have a soft spot for the vocal side it’s all about the instrumental – a proper otherworldly Balearic builder that gets the spine tingling… It’s one of my fave Trax records and features Chicago legends Sweet D and Lidell Townsell – speaking of Lidell have you heard his new joint? The video is ace loads of old-school Chicago House artwork check that along with some William S here…



Anyway as usual I’m deviating so back to the Dance Mania record… This one I dug out is by the ‘Suburban Boyz’ – no it ain’t another Legowelt alias but in fact a production moniker for Dance Mania label owner and distributor Ray Barney. Though Ray is best known for working in his family’s distribution business and running ‘Barney’s Records’ in Chicago, he did actually release one record in ’88. This is one of the earlier Dance Mania 12”s when the productions were more raw and acid-laden that were synonymous with the early house era, whether it be ‘7 Ways’ by Marshall Jefferson under his ‘Hercules’ guise or Farley Jackmaster Funk and Sweet D’s ‘House Nation’ under their ‘The House Master Boyz And The Rude Boy Of House’ pseudonym. Sandwiched in-between the classic Lil’ Louis Dance Mania records (DM 008 with the B-side bliss of ‘How I Feel’ and DM 011 with the classic yet controversial ‘The Original Video Clash’ as chronicled in House Hunting #12), this Suburban Boyz 12” is one of the lesser known releases of the label that despite the recent Dance Mania renaissance is still a slice of obscure allure…

It’s no surprise that some kats did miss some of the Dance Mania releases due to the labels longevity with its prolific release schedule and deliriously long discography. Born out of Ray’s friendship with Jesse’s Gang keyboardist Duane Buford, Ray used the ‘Dance Mania’ mantra that Duane had used previously to release the ‘What’s That’ 12” as The Browns with Duane agreeing to release the first record on the newly incepted label. This lead to ‘Hardcore Jazz’ being the debut 12” of the stable, and though not the most iconic or influential Dance Mania record it still played a significant part with the simplicity of the James Brown samples and 808 rhythms defining the direction the label will ultimately take…

Though the majority of my Dance Mania collection from the label’s earlier, more primitive releases which I favour, it has gone through many transitional phases… I’ve never felt the harder-edged, raw repetitive rhythms from the likes of Robert Armani (though DM 080 as ‘Club Style’ with Paul Johnson is boss) and despite the ghetto booty s**t revival I just ain’t feelin’ those XXX-rated risqué rhythms – notwithstanding the ace Parris Mitchell & Reggie Hall collaboration ‘All Night Long’ proper naughty! Personally, after the post-acid era I like the more melodic and under-appreciated records like for example the Vincent Floyd EP’s, Glenn Underground under his ‘Different Sides’ guise, Rhythm II Rhythm aka Parris Mitchell and the more obscure Strong Souls EP. Check ‘em all out here…




When I used to live in Birmingham I made weekly raids at the Music & Video Exchange on Queensway – you could get loads of Dance Mania records for a pound a pop or sometimes you could even cop some in the ‘five for a pound’ racks! Didn’t think they would turn into gold dust years later… Nowadays seeing the instantly distinguishable yellow label usually comes with an inflated price – I don’t know why the hype with certain records especially the Paul Johnson releases I can only assume trendy DJ’s are droppin’ them cos they ain’t worth the £££’s the speculators are charging! If you’ve only been introduced to Dance Mania of late I say dig deep or avoid Discogs – a great starting point is the ‘Hardcore Traxx: Dance Mania Records 1986-1997’ compilation on Strut compiled by Conor Keeling with additional consultancy provided by Ransom Note’s house archivist and Dance Mania guru Miles Simpson! Cop it here…

I could do a Dance Mania dissertation but with the recent resurgence there’s enough DM press out there so let’s bring it back to Ray Barney and the record… Ray’s sole contribution to his stable typifies Chicago whether it’s the jackin’ string-laden ‘Insane’ or, my personal favourite, the 303 bounce of ‘Demon’ saturated in acid and drenched in keys reminiscent of Marshall Jefferson. If you look closely on the labels you’ll see the letters ‘THMB’ after the artist/track titles – these are the initials of Future Sounds Records founder Terry ‘House Master’ Baldwin of ‘Don’t Lead Me’ fame with Paris Grey and no doubt you can hear his influence… Though you don’t see the record around often reissue whores Rawax released it last year on their ‘Chiwax’ subsidiary for their ‘Chiwax Classic Edition’ series if you can hack (or fancy) a coloured-vinyl reissue – you know my militant stance on this… Still on whatever format the joints need to be heard get ‘em on here…


Though Ray only released the one record his influence is still clearly felt… Whether it was him resurrecting his Dad’s sixties label ‘Bright Star Records’ (providing a platform for Ragtyme whose later incarnation as Ten City brought them commercial success), distributing records for iconic house imprints such as Clubhouse and Chicago Underground, supporting and exposing the new wave of talent from the projects or just being a very fair businessman in an exploitative scene which was unheard of in the Windy City, without his presence Chicago’s soundscape could have been very different without the avenue of Dance Mania. I’ll leave you with a couple of Ray Barney interviews including an exclusive peek at his basement drowning in Dance Mania records and recounting the label’s history – no better way than to hear from the man himself enjoy the education and let the Dance Mania renaissance continue…


HOUSE HUNTING NEWS

As a result of the column some exciting projects have taken shape with the first being a new bi-monthly residency at hip Hackney haunt London Fields with the launch date being this Friday 24th October. Support will come from my House Hunting other half Tomi who I am pleased to announce will be running this new venture with me... I'll need some deck relief so I can join you on the dancefloor! We'll be joining the dots between the classic house sounds of Chicago, New York and Detroit with some Discogs wantlist weapons and bargain bin belters in between – you know all the records I’ve waxed lyrical about in this column… Strictly vinyl & vintage house – you know the score original pressings no reissues! See you down the front...

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