House Hunting #35 - Lola

Aiden breaks protocol with something that's not strictly house... we were shocked too!

House Hunting #35 - Lola

Aiden breaks protocol with something that's not strictly house... we were shocked too!

I had a free Monday morning as was on a later shift at work so thought would take a cheeky jaunt to vinyl mecca Soho for an early morning House Hunting session… However, on getting off the tube at Oxford Circus as I had two hours to kill I thought ‘f**k it’ and deviated to the Circle Line for some impromptu  rack raiding recreation at the Music & Video Exchange (MVE) in Notting Hill. I hadn’t checked out this branch in time and as a bit outta the way in contrast to the house hotspots in the wax hubs of Soho and Shoreditch usually you can unearth some hallowed house hotplates. I got there just after opening and though I do love the hustle of gettin’ my fingers dusty amongst other crate crusaders whether a lunchtime, evening or weekend session nothing beats being a morning marauder and havin’ all the racks to yourself…

I’m sure if you’re an avid record collector you’ve all checked out at least one of the MVE joints for a deep dose of dusty fingers… Established way back in 1967, they’ve been trading for nearly half a century now which is no mean feat considering the rocky road of the high street. Their mantra is ‘BUY SELL TRADE’ which has served them well over the years with a constant stream of collections coming in and no doubt unearthing a cache of wax jewels. What’s great about the MVE’s is that they routinely reduce the record prices if the racks are overflowing and they’re not shifting. As well as records they have retro/vintage clothing stores plus outposts for rare and collectable second-hand books/magazine so if you fancy doing a trade, potentially considering them as an offload option or just hoarding a load more s**t you don’t need then check ‘em out – further details on their website here. Anyway, in my uni days as a student in London I had f**k all cash so used to spend hours sifting through the cheap crates of the Soho and Camden branches scoping for those red reduction stickers – proper bargain bin pressure! Fast forward a few years later and when residing in Birmingham I was only a 5 min walk to the MVE store on Queensway and they had a killer ‘5 for a £1’ section which I used to rinse and sell the records on. I would regularly cop a load of long lost Chicago House records on labels like Trax, Dance Mania and Relief which I used to sell on for a nice profit – choice find was the ‘APT’ EP by N.Y. House’N Authority aka Burrell Brother Rheji for just 20p ridiculous! You don’t find ‘em like that anymore…

Anyway, back to the present and I ascended the stairs to the ‘Soul & Dance’ division where I had the whole of the first floor to myself – pure kid in a candy store flavour yo! My house radar detected the house sections and I got down to it… With Chicago House being my first love I naturally rifled through that rack first. Though an excess of nonentities I did scope some Alleviated pressure with the Larry Heard’s ‘Just Another Lonely Day’ 12” as Blakk Society – £14 not bad for a VG copy of this yearning face melter. Lose yourself in this lush housescape here…

However, despite goin’ through all the house sections and deviating in a bit of disco (they had the Kasso LP but not the original pressing I was after) and techno this diggin’ excursion frustratingly proved a fruitless exercise… Though I was leaving empty-handed, undeterred I thought I could make a quick jaunt to Soho on my way to work. Upon leaving I glanced back at the front window and did a double-take as I noticed a Jump Street sleeve staring right back at me. Upon closer inspection it was the original pressing of Lola’s ‘Wax The Van’ which had a couple of rounds of discount and was now at a fair £7. So I went back in so I could take a look at the record – on scrutinising closely the labels all clean and the vinyl looked in decent condition so had to be copped. The cover was strewn in price stickers and though most heads wouldn’t give a s**t as it’s the music that counts with my aesthetic OCD you know I hate that. On the tube to work I performed sticker surgery and salvaged the sleeve so it was in its full Jump Street glory. Just a bit of sticker residue left but overall happy with the rescue operation…

So let’s get to the record… OK I may be breaking House Hunting protocol here as this record ain’t strictly house and is more in the realm of disco (Ed: DISCO?!!!! WTF THE FK AIDEN?!!) but hold tight and bear with me as this one was an influential New York club hit. The record began life as a composition by visionary virtuoso Arthur Russell with the ‘Wax The Van’ title being a reference to the Sex Wax that Californian surfers used to make their surfboards more adhesive – who in turn were gay icons. However, Arthur was infamous for maxing out studio budgets for NY disco institutions such as West End and Sire due to his inability to finish tracks as he was relentless in his pursuit for perfection. Coming to his rescue was legendary producer Bob Blank famed for his ‘Blank Tapes’ studio and whose prolific production prowess can be heard on iconic record such as Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’, Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ and even on the cosmic soundscape of Sun Ra’s jazz odysseys. Having previously worked together (Dinosaur L’s ‘Go Bang’ and Loose Joints’ ‘Is it All Over My Face’), Bob allowed Arthur to have the studio time he always desired so there were no restrictions to his creative thought and he could conceive more of his avant-garde opuses. Compilation connoisseurs Strut curated the ace ‘Bob Blank – The Blank Generation Blank Tapes NYC 1975-1985’ compendium which is the perfect introduction to Bob Blank’s choice productions – more info on Strut’s website here

The production evolved into a family affair with Bob enlisting his wife Lola on vox (who with her talent in dancing and singing worked with none other than James Brown) and even his seven-year old step-son Kenny (who developed into a mercurial musical prodigy) who interjects with lyrics like “Why, Why?” and “What you doin’ Moma?” adding a childlike quality to the production. Submerged under the echoing vocals are a cacophony of congas and ocean of polywaves that permeate throughout – culminating in a trippy production that really does plunge you in the depths, dive in here…

Though I personally like the idiosyncrasy of the unusual vocal arrangement with Lola shrieking, Kenny calling and even Arthur himself muttering I know it ain’t gonna be for everyone so flip on to the b-side for ‘Jon’s Dub’. The choice mix for many, this version largely dispels the vocals in favour of emphasising and elongating the instrumentation that submerges you even further… Ain’t got a clue who Jon is (one for the DJ History Disco Don’s to decipher?) but his dub on constant repeat proper infectious – those dripping waves of polyrhythms and bass guitar licks proper melter…

Though its initial conception was in ’85 after many renditions it finally saw the light of day in ’87 via Jump Street Records. As it was a favourite of Paradise Garage prophet Larry Levan the record became one of the label’s biggest releases and was even licenced to major Chrysalis. As well as this defining record Jump Street released some killer house/disco records in the late 80s. My choice cuts including Michelle Ayers’ ‘Another Lover’, The Basement Boys’ ‘Love Don’t Live Here No More’, Bipo’s ‘Why?’ and the essential ‘Welcome To The Club’ comp (dedicated to the Garage) featuring Jump St. Man (aka label owner Jonathan Mann and Marshall Jefferson on keys) who contributed with the deep opus ‘B-Cause’ – as Jonathan and the label’s A&R Cynthia Cherry couldn’t license Manuel Gottsching’s ‘E2-E4’ this was their dedication to his masterwork. Also gotta add Jump Street’s offshoot Gertie which released the classic Summer of Love anthem ‘I’m In Love’ by Sha-Lor (aka Dream 2 Science’s Ben Cenac) as featured in House Hunting #6. Check ‘em all out here…





Bringing it back to Arthur Russell and if you’re not so familiar with his work then the ‘World Of Arthur Russell’ LP on Soul Jazz is a great introduction to his celebrated work plus this feature on The Vinyl Factory has revered producers such as Chez Damier, Morgan Geist and Roger Sanchez discuss their choice Arthur Russell compositions. If tracking down originals or paying serious £££’s is too much hard work then Audika Records http://audikarecords.com/ have reissued some of his classic LP’s such as ‘World Of Echo’ and ‘Love Is Overtaking Me’ so well worth checking out. Also if you’re an Arthur Russell aficionado then on Sunday 24th May you gotta check the ‘Arthur Russell’s Instrumentals’ session at Café Oto – tickets on sale now don’t sleep…

Anyway, though it’s been a house-not-house edition this week it’s an apt one as by the time you’re reading this I’ll be in NYC on a crate crusading mission… Hopefully I’ll unearth some more of those Jump Street joints and the genius of Arthur Russell – originals pressings standard…

HOUSE HUNTING HERALD

So the House Hunting residency at London Fields has come to a close as the venue is pursuing a new musical direction however fear not as I’m on the lookout for a new home so hold tight… In the meantime fellow R$N house lyricist Miles “Gherkmaster” Simpson and his partner in crime Joseph Apted bring back my fave London house night THUNDER to the intimate enclave of Dalston den Dance Tunnel this month. Thunder restored my faith in London nightlife as they champion the deeper facets of house hosting revered selectors such as Gene Hunt, DJ Nature, Rahaan, Rick Wilhite, Chez Damier, DJ Sprinkles and Marcellus Pittman – not to mention the residents holdin’ it down themselves.

Anyway, for this month’s flash of thunder they’re jettin’ in none-other than Detroit Don Andrs! Since his initial releases in the late-nineties on fellow kindred spirit Moodymann’s KDJ imprint, producer du jour Andrés has been an influential figure in the Detroit house scene. His unique blending of genres including soul, jazz, funk and disco with the house sounds synonymous with Detroit gained him a cult following in underground circles, though it wasn’t until his eponymously-titled LP’s were released on Moodymann’s Mahogani imprint that more heads took notice – with the launch of his La Vida label cementing his position as a house heavyweight with ‘Second Time Around’ and ‘New For U’ a permanent fixture in many a discernible DJ’s set.

Event details here though advanced tickets sold out so make sure you jet down early doors to guarantee entry. I’ll leave you with his latest joints on La Vida which have that timeless aesthetic and organic laissez-faire vibe that is perfect to jam to. See you down the front…



Aiden d’Araujo

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