House Hunting #21 – Basil Hardhaus

Aiden unearths Basil Hardhaus aka Basil Thomas a close affiliate of prolific Nu Groove mainstays the Burrell Brothers.

House Hunting #21 – Basil Hardhaus

Aiden unearths Basil Hardhaus aka Basil Thomas a close affiliate of prolific Nu Groove mainstays the Burrell Brothers.

So after last week’s MASSIVE guest edition of House Hunting it’s back to normal proceedings this week as I was gettin’ wax withdrawal by having a two week hiatus from crate crusading… 

On my day off my better half Tonya planned to see Hindu spiritual guru Amma at Ally Pally for some hardcore hugging and ethereal ecstasy – as you probably gathered of the two of us I’m the less transcendent one so instead I sought solace in the environs of East Finchley for some eternal enlightenment at Alan’s Records…



Upon entering as ever records were overflowing – pure kid in a candy shop flavour not knowing where to start… After routing through the usual New York and Chicago House racks unusually on this occasion nothing really caught my attention though there still is that promo copy of the obscure ‘Rhythm Zone Vol. 1’ LP on Kool Kat lurking for a fiver – some killer joints on there by Dionne, Gallifre, Rhythim Is Rhythim and R-Tyme cop it if you can! Anyway, Alan pointed to a multi-storey stack of records next to the entrance that had just been dropped in. He said it was mainly commercial dance but worth a look so it was time to get down’n’dirty with some dusty fingers…

As anticipated this tower of vinyl was floors of hardcore has-beens and old skool OAPS – it wasn’t looking good you’ve all been there… However, on diggin’ down to the base things were looking up as I pulled out a copy of ‘Give Me A Sign’ by In-Dex – I passed on it as it was proper battered and wasn’t the first Bigshot Records issue but the later UK pressing on Exit Records (you know me strictly an original pressing whore no reissues).

Undeterred, I furiously flicked though until with the last few records to go I saw my super weakness – the ‘Nu Groove’ logo (always find some Nu Groove flavour in Alan’s racks). Now this was gonna go either one of two ways – it could be one of the label’s more forgettable releases in its twilight years or one of the timeless classics from heads like the Burrell Brothers, Bobby Konders and Joey Beltram. On inspecting closer and seeing the distinctive b-side graffiti tag of ‘Basil Hardhaus’ I knew I scored a boss one – it passed the House Hunting test as both labels clean (I know I need counselling…) and though a few scratches nothing severe. Now all what was left was the price…

So I took it up to the counter and Alan’s first response was “It’s only a Nu Groove record won’t be much” but having been dollar bin specials for time (I remember a time you couldn’t give away a Nu Groove record) they’re suddenly hallowed House Grails again. With the emergence of database behemoth Discogs it’s always record roulette when a vendor referencing for a price… Will they get speculator envy? Will they play it safe and go for the average price? Will the sales history have an influence? Or will they cut you a deal? Thankfully Alan is always the latter – I would say a tenner is the average price for this 12” but he quoted me a fiver which I was more than happy to part with…

Now you know me I’m a proper anorak when it comes to Nu Groove… Founded in ’88 by Frank and Karen Mendez, Nu Groove was an influential institution in the New York house scene and went on to release over 100 records in just four years – I won’t bore you for daze here’s an excuse to get out that mini-doc again on the imprint featuring excerpts from label legends such as the Burrell Brothers, Bobby Konders and Joey Beltram watch it here. (embed disabled unfortunately)

So who is Basil Hardhaus? 

Well, it’s an alias of Basil Thomas who was a close affiliate of prolific Nu Groove mainstays the Burrell Brothers. Basil was a prominent figure in the NY house scene – prior to his residency at Nells he worked at the legendary Paradise Garage and went on to have residencies at choice club sanctuaries in Manhattan such as The Sound Factory, The Hard Haus, Red Zone and at The Choice with Larry Levan. He also spun at Greg Daye and Timmy Richardson’s Wild Pitch parties along with revered residents such as Victor Rosado, Kenny Carpenter and the late Tee Scott and David Camacho – filling the void between the Paradise Garage’s closing and the emergence of The Shelter. As was the path chosen by many DJ’s of the time (and still to this day) it was a natural progression to get into production and this week’s House Hunting pick was his debut release in ’91 on New York institution Nu Groove.



Typically of the era the label confusingly misspelled his name (titled Basil ‘Hardhouse’ on the A-side yet the graf tag on the flip got him down as ‘Hardhaus’ – sorry geekin’ out with some useless trivia). Anyway, it’s a killer EP and with Ronald Burrell on the keys you can clearly hear his influence with the tracks having that Burrell flavour that’s synonymous with their dizzying discography. Needing no introduction, Ronald released an armada of records under an array of aliases including Aphrodisiac, Equation and K.A.T.O on Nu Groove plus contributing to many choice labels of the era including Strictly Rhythm, Nervous and Bottom Line – not to mention his Citi Records stable that he ran with his brother Rheji. A lot of his collectable Nu Groove records are currently being repressed like ‘Song Of The Siren’ under his Aphrodisiac alias and ‘I Say A Prayer 4 U’ as Equation so you can easily cop ‘em and if hunting down all their records too much hard work for you then alternatively a perfect introduction is the comprehensive retrospective of the Burrell Brothers curated by reissue kings Rush Hour. Anyway as ever I like a bit of obscure allure so here’s one of his lesser celebrated Nu Groove records as K.A.T.O. (‘Keyboards Above The Ordinary’).


Bringing it back to Basil and choice picks on the EP include the deep social commentary on Larry Levan fave ‘City Streets’, the glistening keys and wistful synths of (my personal favourite) ‘Breezin’ and the late night serenade of ‘The Smooth Track’ – typical Nu Groove stylings check ‘em out here all killer no filler…

Basil Hardhouse - The Smooth Track (embed disabled)

Basil did release one more 12” on Nu Groove with the classic ‘Make Me Dance’ 12”. It’s all about the ‘Hard For The DJ’ mix which is a killer groove with Basil name checkin’ some of his NY peers such as Larry Levan, Tony Humphries and Frankie Knuckles (rest in paradise…) plus his Wild Pitch brothers – such a dope joint… After this release it all went quiet on the production front until the late 90s when he released a handful of records on King Street Sounds. The ‘City Streets’ 12” featuring the Kerri Chandler remixes the choice pick as ever proper kord kaoz by KC - have a listen to that along with ‘Make Me Dance’ here…


So there you go a brief history of Basil and some deserved props – just remember unless you're Midlands Messiah Tonka it ain’t HARD HOUSE but HARDHAUS!


HOUSE HUNTING NEWS



Thunder matriarch Miles Simpson and myself will be representing in the House Hunting room at this Saturday's Boy's Own x Drop Acid Not Bombs party @ East Bloc featuring NYC legend Tedd Patterson and UK house hierarchy in the form of Pete Heller & Terry Farley - HOUSE!

Me and Miles will be delving deep in our vinyl vaults to unearth acid-soaked acetates and house holy grails from the transatlantic triptych of Chicago, New York and Detroit. Housed in the intimate confines of the East Bloc chamber, it’ll be like teleporting you back to the house sanctuaries of the Music Box or Sound Factory but in your front room pure sweat on the walls… Strictly vinyl and vintage house – original pressings no reissues standard…

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