House Hunting #37 - Disco-D

So after my NYC crate crusade it’s back to some rack raiding recreation in the UK...

House Hunting #37 - Disco-D

So after my NYC crate crusade it’s back to some rack raiding recreation in the UK...

So after my NYC crate crusade it’s back to some rack raiding recreation in the UK. Though I swerved Record Store Day (I’m one of the guys that will check out a record shop EVERY WEEK) this week’s House Hunting came from a surprising source… I was checking out my Instagram (check out here as you guessed I just instaspam old house records) and came across a shop that was posting a load of long lost house records. However, these weren’t just any old house records but proper hallowed house hot plates – immediately catching my eye were the timeless Frankie Knuckles remixes of Jago and Gallifré so kept this page on my radar as there may be a joint on the House Hunting hit list… On checking again Jesus there was an avalanche of house on there whether some classic Chicago House like E.S.P.’s ‘It’s You’, Lil’ Louis’ ‘Frequency’ and Jaquarius’ ‘Love Is Happiness’, Nu Groove necessities outta NYC like N.Y. House’N Authority’s ‘APT. EP’, Aphrodisiac’s ‘Your Love’ and L.B. Bad’s ‘ The True Story Of House Music’ plus super sought-after LP’s like Farley “Jackmaster” Funk’s ‘No Vocals Necessary’ and Gemini’s ‘In Neutral’ – not to mention multiple choice cuts from house heroes Larry Heard and Armando.

So what record joint am I waxing lyrical about? Well this one is the recently opened 586 Records up in the Tyneside territory of Newcastle. Though there’s the typical stereotypes including the tops off Toon Army, a Greggs on every corner (I have never seen so many in my life…) and bargain boozin’ (buy a round and you get change from a tenner – compared to London prices it’s like buy one get three free!), if you ask 586 Records founder Anthony Daly he’ll tell you that the city has had a wealth of revered house and techno nights for the more discernible dancers. Having moved to Newcastle in 2000, Antony was the co-promoter and resident of ‘Reverb’ booking a host of Techno titans such as Carl Craig, DJ Bone and Vince Watson. However, fast-forward a few years later and after taking a trek over The Pennines to check out Greg Wilson at Society in Sheffield this proved a life-affirming experience and was the catalyst in Antony booking Greg for a one-off party in the unique art décor setting of the Tyneside Cinema for his newly conceived ‘Suono’ night. The party proved to be a hit and a year later evolved into a monthly Sunday session where the weekend warriors and Sunday socialisers soaked up some Balearic bliss to guests like Ashley Beedle, Kelvin Andrews, Moonboots and Mudd. Not content with the Sunday sessions, he and the Suono squad also held bigger events in the city over the next decade bringing over serious selectors such as Danielle Baldelli, Idjut Boys, 2020 Soundsystem and Mark Seven – who’ll be jettin’ over to the UK next month to play for Big Wave at Dance Tunnel proper House Hunting hint! See you down the front…

From the heady nights of house hedonism things took an unexpected turn for the worse in 2012 with Anthony not in a good place physically or mentally with his now negative lifestyle getting him caught in a major police sting – which resulted in him being sentenced to 28 months in prison. Serving time naturally lead Anthony to reflect on his previous unhealthy lifestyle and was the catalyst in him changing his life. Determined to start afresh upon his release, though job prospects were slim he tapped into his entrepreneurial spirit and rack raided at his old haunts to source collectable vinyl he knew he could sell on. This lead to him setting up ‘Seasoned Sounds’ which was a record fair at the Stand Comedy Club where he also invited other vendors to set up stall and sell their vinyl. Next up he got reacquainted with his Discogs account (have a peruse here) so he could utilise for selling records and through his partner at the time managed to rent a space where he could house and sell his burgeoning collection. However, this year has proved the real turning point as with support from Pinetree Trust and Crisis he secured funding to officially open 586 Records. The ‘586’ name has a double-meaning as it was inspired by the opening soundtrack to The Hacienda which was the blueprint for ‘Blue Monday’ and was coincidentally the start of his phone number when residing in his hometown of Peterlee. Now a fully bespoke, fitted record joint, friends, acquaintances and associates rallied to support Antony with donations to increase his inventory and generate income to fund his new venture. This in turn has lead him in to be in a position where he could amass record collections and via a mutual friend managed was put in touch with Andy Barker of 808 State fame who was selling his collection. After negotiating back an forth both parties agreed a price on around 6000 records and Andy himself transported them from Manchester up to Newcastle – legendary!

So, if you’ve copped a collection off 808 State you know within the wave of electro, techno and rave there’s gonna be some house gems waiting to be unearthed – check Antony’s 586 Records Instagram page out to see these jewels and get proper wax envy. Anyway amongst all the aforementioned house classics I scoped a distinctive yellow label of a record that has been on the House Hunting hit list for years – the house Holy Grail of ‘Dance Tracs’ by Disco D aka house forefather Larry Heard! Hang on you what?! A yellow label ain’t that the… REPRESS?!?! I’m gonna get a whole lotta s**t now… Yeah it is the ’87 repress but my excuse is I’m a Larry Heard completest – at just over 40 notes and in near mint condition it had to be copped especially as been previously owned by 808 state some proper house history there! Still… HOW MUCH FOR A REPRESS?!?! Yeah I know, I know but seen this joint go for over £100 countless times on the bay and you know me I like to support the real record shops… Anyway you could argue that it ain’t a repress as speaking to Larry the original white label came out in ’86 before his label name ‘Alleviated Records’ had been conceived so the yellow label was the ‘official release’ – just let me off this week yeah? NERD ALERT: If you check the runouts you’ll notice that the Matrix numbers of BP-3673-A/BP-3673-B are the same indicating that both were pressed from the same metal parts – some proper house trivia there for you!

So let’s get to Larry… Now if you don’t own a Larry Heard record well I ain’t gonna trust you and you better get back to RA... Not just Chicago House hierarchy, Larry’s productions have transcended the usual house fare for decades influencing and inspiring generations of producers, DJs and house heads. However, Larry’s house path was a little more unorthodox… Hailing from the south side of Chicago, Larry was raised in a musical household with both his parents and siblings all musicians. He himself evolved into a multi-instrumentalist influenced by Blues, Rock, Jazz, Soul, Gospel and Reggae, and with his flair for drumming he was in a host of live bands from the late seventies to early eighties as the go to drummer for rock, R&B and contemporary jazz bands – not to mention being in a Yes tribute band and playing in jazz fusion cover group Infinity whose alumni included Adonis.

Fast-forward to ’84 and growing restless in his role as a drummer who was creatively stifled with no artistic input, Larry left the live band scene. He was always intrigued by the keyboards and more electronic equipment in the bands he played with, and with the technological advances of the era with Moog and Oberheim synthesizers being utilised more and more this inspired Larry and was the catalyst in him purchasing his first equipment – the Roland TR-707 drum machine and Roland Jupiter 6 keyboard. One of the first tracks he produced was ‘Mystery Of Love’ and upon hearing it a friend recommended he take it to revered selector Frankie Knuckles. As in the live music scene, Larry was oblivious what was goin’ down on the Near West Side at The Warehouse where under Robert Williams’ direction and with Frankie Knuckles at the controls this night sanctuary is credited as the birthplace of what we know as HOUSE. As The Warehouse was undergoin’ a transition with increased admission naturally leading to a more commercial sound and less edgier clientele, Frankie left to set up The Power Plant and this is where Larry experienced house in a club setting as well as Ron Hardy at The Music Box. Larry presented Frankie and Ron with an acetate of ‘Mystery Of Love’ and this proto-house production was such a hit that both Frankie and Ron both passed it off as their own joint! Upon hearing you can hear why with ‘Mystery Of Love’ proving to be the blueprint for Larry’s production ingenuity – there was only ever three acetates of which only Larry, Frankie and Ron had. Gotta have been life-affirming hearing this out for the first time – here’s a house flashback transporting you to the Music Box back in ’84 where Ronnie dropped it this will make you melt away proper…

With Frankie and Ron claiming the track was theirs Larry took this as compliment and was the seal of approval that encouraged him to endeavour in producing more tracks in his inimitable style. ‘Mystery Of Love’ went on to sell 20,000 copies, spawning two later incarnations that were released on Larry’s own Alleviated Records imprint and Rocky Jones’ house institution DJ International which included Robert Owens on vox. Prior to releasing the ‘Mystery Of Love’ re-recording for DJ International Larry met Robert Owens via a mutual friend and found in Robert a kindred spirit who shared his creative thought process. The first day they hooked up they collaborated on a prototype which turned out to be ‘A Path’ which was also released on DJ International. Though Larry’s initial alias was ‘Loose Fingers’ (a name Larry’s brother gave him with his tendency to fake his ability on an instrument with his fingers fast’n’loose) which was modified shortly after to ‘Mr Fingers’, with Robert’s involvement they altered this to ‘Fingers Inc.’

Also bringin’ in Ron Wilson to the mix, the newly formed trio produced and released one of the most influential house LP’s. Titled ‘Another Side’, the LP showcases the full majesty of Larry’s advanced production prowess in tandem with Robert and Ron’s etheric vox taking you to a higher plane… Sounding like nothin’ else (still to this day) ‘Another Side’ never ceases to amaze – I still get goosebumps every time I put the needle on the record… Hard to pick a favourite (changes on every listen) but whether it’s the otherworldly opuses of ‘Never No More Lonely’ and ‘Distant Planet’ (featuring the platonic poetry of Harry Dennis) with Robert Owens’ vocal soaring into space, the deep serenades of ‘Bye Bye’ and ‘So Glad’ or the more straight up jackin’ of ‘Music Take Me Up’ and ‘Bring Down The Walls’, the LP is a genre-defining and genre-defying work that I’m sure will influence and inspire the generations to come. Here’s a selection of my choice cuts from the LP plus the unreleased long lost joint ‘Love & Happiness’ that’ll hopefully be released on record one day – lose yourself here…

As well as Fingers Inc. Larry had a series of side project on the go and inspired by George Clinton recorded under an array of aliases. This included deviating to techno terrain with the harder-edged ‘Play It Loud’ and ‘Big Bang Theory’ EPs on the UK’s Black Market Records (who he continued to be affiliated with in the 90s), bringin’ some Balearic bliss with ‘Twilight’ under his Trio Zero moniker with Ten City, hookin’ up with Harry Dennis to form ‘The It’ (kickin’ off with the jilted anthem ‘Donnie’) and as Blakk Society with David Hollister produced the mournful melter ‘Just Another Lonely Day’. He was also a mainstay on Brett Wilcots’ Gherkin Records (a House Hunting fave) with a series of productions and remixes – admitting in later life he was behind the ‘Gherkin Jerks’ guise that released the raw, acid-drenched ‘Stomp The Beat’ 12” and  Detroit styling of the ‘1990’ EP. All these projects showcased Larry’s versatility yet were still innovative as ever – here’s a few of my choice joints here along with some of that Gherkin flavour…

However, it was under his ‘Mr. Fingers’ moniker in what he is best known for and where he’s probably had most acclaim. As well as ‘Mystery Of Love’ one of his first other prototypes was ‘Washing Machine’ which first appeared on Larry Sherman’s Trax Records. Also on the EP was ‘Beyond The Clouds’ and the seminal ‘Can You Feel It’ which from its initial inception on a cold Chicago winter of ‘85 nearly 30 years later it still elicits euphoria when dropped on the dancefloor – that phat Roland Alpha Juno-2 baseline reducing grown men to tears… If you’re ever trying to articulate to someone what house is all about then no words needed just put this record on and it’ll all make sense… As well as his debut for Trax, as Mr Fingers Larry released the sought-after ‘Slam Dance’ EP (which includes the cosmic composition ‘Stars’) and continued to be an ever-present on Damon D’Cruz’ Jack Trax stable who reissued the ‘Slam Dance’ EP and ‘Can You Feel It’ (the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Spoken Word version) plus released the coveted ‘Ammnesia’ and ‘Love & Justice’ EP’s – not to mention also producing the ‘Let The Music Use You’ LP by Ricky Dillard of The Night Writers fame. In ’88 Jack Trax compiled all his Mr Fingers productions on the ‘Ammnesia’ LP and allegedly was released without Larry’s consent – typifying record label practices of the era. His sound continued to evolve with more complex compositions and harmonies, resulting in the spine-tingling face-melter ‘What About This Love’ – definitely one for a Balearic sunset pure paradise… Come the early nineties and having been signed up by label major MCA his Mr Fingers material took a different direction goin’ back to his roots with jazz influences on his LP and on an R&B tip with the sensuous melodies of ‘Back To Love’. Here’s some of those Mr Fingers faves here…

Putting his Mr Fingers guise on sabbatical in ’94, Larry started to record under his own name and over the last two decades has continued to astound with his adaptability and relevance through LP’s like the lush soundscapes of ‘Sceneries Not Songs Volume One’, ‘Ice Castles’ and ‘Genesis’, the filmic sci-fi flourishes of ‘Alien’, the more house-orientated ‘Dance 2000’ LP’s plus the deep machine warmth of ‘Love’s Arrival’ and ‘Where Life Begins’. As well as his own productions Larry has turned in a range of revered remixes that are always buy-on-sight (hard to choose a fave but think his Space Mix of ‘Manhasset’ by Club Ice is the one) plus continues to run his Alleviated imprint where as well as featuring his own productions (also under his ‘Loosefingers’ pseudonym) is bringin’ other artists to the fore such as Mr. White, Ben Jenkins and most recently Ken Gill with the lush ‘Love Moon’. Here’s a few of my choice compositions of his over the last two decades that are pure Larry… 

OK I better sign off as I gotta submit this piece at some point! I could do a house HND on Larry… Anyway I’ll leave you with this week’s House Hunting find… Forget the primitive BPM tracks on the A-Side and head straight for the deep majesty of ‘Beat It’ which has that ethereal feel and timeless aesthetic that is synonymous with all Larry’s other classic compositions – ‘High Noon’ ain’t bad either! I’ve scoped that discernible dealer Japhy has got the same pressing I’ve copped if you fancy sourcing that otherwise if you ain’t a trainspotter and a cop-out then you can get the repress that was released last year. Right time to beat it…

AIDEN D’ARAUJO

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