So during London rush hour when it’s commuter chaos most heads seek solace in their mobiles, right? I’m one of those heads too, but instead of subjecting myself to another sweet fix of Candy Crush or gettin’ my head around Twitter (I just retweet the s**t outta it) I turn to my eBay app for some house hunting heaven… Yeah I know being an online vinyl vulture just ain’t the same as havin’ some rack raiding recreation however I can browse endlessly on eBay as you’ll never know what hallowed house you’ll come across at a potential bargain basement price – yeah Discogs may provide emergency relief but it’s the safe, easy option which doesn’t have the thrill of an auction…
Anyway, as ever when perusing I navigated through all the artists and labels on the House Hunting hit list methodically in alphabetical order – OCD help me now! My train was pulling in to Highbury & Islington so was gonna lose my 4G connectivity when suddenly on scoping ‘Nu Groove’ I clocked a Nu Groove collection on sale. Before losing my connection I got the description up so could have a proper gander when on the tube. On reading it there was a proper stack of Nu Groove wax with 31 records in total for sale. These included some of the Nu Groove necessities such as 33 1/3 Queen’s ‘Volume One’, Metro’s ‘$1.15 Please’ and the ‘Rydim #1’ EP by Rydims aka Bobby Konders – not to mention a load of the obscurities which house a load of the B-side bombs. The price was £160 for the lot so not bad but I sensed a Dickinson’s Real Deal on the cards so time for a House Hunting hustle... My opening gambit was £100 which I knew wasn’t gonna get accepted but considering last month NYC rinsed me outta some serious $$$’s I went in with a cheeky offer to gauge what reaction I’d get – would the seller be open for negotiation or tell me to f**k off?
Lucky for me, having read my column and being a fan he came back with very kind offer of £120 plus postage – I countered £120 all in which he agreed. So that ain’t bad for a mint collection of Nu Groove with labels clean and shrink intact on the majority of ‘em pure House Hunting heaven… So overall it works out approx. £4 per record which considering the condition of them (they all look unplayed) is a super deal – check out the receipt here for the full inventory:
NG-009 – Lake Eerie – ‘Sex 4 Daze (I Want It, You Can Get It)’ NG-010 – Massive Sounds – ‘She Say Kuff’
NG-017 – Bas Noir – ‘I’m Glad You Came Me’
NG-023 – Frankie “Bones” & Lennie “Dee”– ‘Looney Tunes Volume One’
NG-035 – Metro – ‘$1.15 Please’
NG-039 – DTR – ‘How Many Times (Unity)’
NG-040 – Vandal – ‘The Laws Of Chants Volume One’
NG-042 – Asia Love – ‘You Should Be Here’
NG-043 – Code 6 – ‘Forgotten Moments’
NG-044 – Critical Rhythm – ‘It Could Not Happen’
NG-045 – Joey Negro – ‘Do It, Believe It’
NG-046 – Lost Entity – ‘Bring That Back (One More Time)’
NG-047 – Tracer – ‘Love Fantasy’
NG-049 – Tech Trax Inc. – ‘Tech Trax Inc.’
NG-050 – Frankie “Bones” & Lennie “Dee”– ‘Looney Tunes Volume II’
NG-052 – Major Problems – ‘The Effects Can Last Forever’
NG-053 – 33 1/3 Queen – ‘Volume One’
NG-054 – Rydims – ‘Rydim #1’
NG-057 – Vandal – ‘The Laws Of Chants Volume Two’
NG-059 – Camacho’s Project Featuring Regina Wilson – ‘Slave’
NG-060 – Project “86” – ‘Industrial Bass’
NG-061 – Open House Featuring Pace – ‘Keep With The Pace’
NG-064 – Rhythm Masters – ‘Virgin Eyes’
NG-066 – The Sound Vandals – ‘Feel It’
NG-067 – Transphonic – ‘Club Tools’
NG-068 – Major Problems – ‘City Under Siege’
NG-076 – Kenny ‘Dope’ – ‘Powerhouse 3’
NG-077 – Dee Gorgeous – ‘Better Than Sex’
NG-083 – New Grooves – ‘Vol. II’
NG-085 – Groove Committee – ‘I Want You Know’
NG-086 – How & Little – ‘Summer Slams I’
Some serious joints there – here’s some of my choice cut that been on repeat at House Hunting HQ…
So a proper House Hunting haul from my main man Claytz. Hailing from Manchester and 46 years young, buying records became a total obsession for Claytz from an early age. He was still knockin’ about at school when he first started saving his paper round money to cop a couple of records from HMV every week.
When Manchester vinyl institution Eastern Bloc Records opened, this proved to be a sanctuary for Claytz and his crew who had a place to hang out, listen to and buy the very latest US imports – making the pilgrimage every Saturday where his spare cash was rinsed on vinyl thus becoming a vinyl junkie. On hearing House and Garage for the first time, he knew this was going to be something very special and proved influential in his record-buying taste. The guys in the shop shared the same passion for the music and they would often put a bag of the latest 12-inches to one side so he along with the store’s regular clientele wouldn’t miss out on anything hot. Claytz estimates at a rough guess that between ‘87 and ‘92 he bought about thousand records with most of them comin’ outta Eastern Bloc.
Fast-forward over twenty years later and he still get the same buzz and excitement when he hears THAT track for the first time – “there is nothing like it, I feel it.” However, though there are certain records he will never sell he like many others has succumbed to the digital realm and purchases downloads to use for his mixes. This has ultimately led him to decide to thin his collection out which in this case I’ve seized upon – he’s got more in the vinyl vaults so watch out I may score some more hallowed house hauls in the near future… So let’s get on to my choice NYC stable Nu Groove… Founded in ’88 by Frank Mendez and Karen Kahn along with Judy Russell, Nu Groove was an influential institution in the New York house scene and went on to release over 100 records in just 4 years – that’s a release every two weeks proper pressing plant pressure! Yeah to some heads the label released a lot of s**t with some best left to gather dust in the depths of a bargain bin but it also released some of the most defining records of the early 90s house era from mainstay marvels such as Bobby Konders, Joey Beltram and of course the prolific Burrell Brothers – Rheji & Ronald. Let’s delve into a bit of their history and influence on the label…
I gotta kick off with Bobby Konders as no-one drops a bassline quite like him (Tonya loves those Brooklyn basslines too) which have been the backbone of his iconic records on Nu Groove. Prior to producing he spun at Greg Daye and Timmy Richardson’s Wild Pitch parties along with revered residents such as Victor Rosado, Kenny Carpenter, fellow Nu Groove alumni Basil Hardhaus 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 with the meltin’ pot of dub, reggae, disco, house and hip-hop that he concocted for the more discernible dance diaspora, he captured that flavour on his classic ‘House Rhythms’ EP on Nu Groove with choice joints including ‘The Poem’ and ‘Nervous Acid’ – both never fail on the dancefloor…
He also released under his Massive Sounds and Rydims guises for Nu Groove plus recorded as Brooklyn Massive (on Big Beat), Freedom Authority (on XL Recordings) and as Jus’ Friends and Dub Poets on his own Nu Groove offshoot Massive B. He later formed the Massive B Sound System with his partner Jabba bringin’ some Caribbean spirit to NYC. Though goin’ back to his reggae roots on a dancehall ting his Sound System still goin’ strong though to me it just sounds like an afternoon at Leicester’s Caribbean carnival in a haze of skunk, Red Stripe and Aba-ShantI – I’ll stick with the house… Lose yourself to those basslines and his killer Kiss FM Mastermix from way back in ’90 here…
Joey Beltram is another House Hunting fave and shouldn’t need any introduction with his ubiquitous techno anthem ‘Energy Flash’ influencing and inspiring a generation. Word on the street is that the track was gonna be submitted to Nu Groove until Belgian behemoth R&S moved in when Joey was touring there and released it in tandem with Derrick May’s Transmat imprint. The following year under his Second Phase alias along with Mundo Muzique he released the massive ‘Mentasm’ which became ingrained in rave culture as it gave birth to the ‘Mentasm riff’ – spawning many imitators in prevalent scenes of the era including Dutch/Belgian hardcore and early UK breakbeat (later drum & bass). However, though less influential I prefer his Nu Groove records like his Lost Entity and Code 6 EP’s – rave on here…
However, it’s The Burrell Brothers who most associate with Nu Groove. Before releasing records they taught Kung-Fu at Rutgers University and through that came into contact with all the Newark house heads which naturally led them to check out all the local New Jersey club sanctuaries including hallowed house institution Zanzibar. Their love of dancing was a source of inspiration for their primitive productions recorded in their Mum’s basement with their friend Tim D always recording to his boom box so he could play out at the local record joint Sound Express in Plainview, New Jersey. Their tracks caught the attention of Karen Kahn and her partner Frank Mendez (the future husband and wife team who founded Nu Groove) who recognising their potential shopped their demos about to seek a record deal. Also hearing the potential was WBLS Timmy Regisford who played one of their now more polished demos on air which was the catalyst in securing a deal with Virgin. The finished article was ‘I Really Like’ and though their eponymous ‘Burrell’ LP was on an R&B tip joints like ‘Trust In The Music’ and ‘Gonna Make You Dance’ were precursors to the house flavour that’s synonymous with their dizzying discography on Nu Groove.
Things turned sour when there were politics between the UK and US division of the Virgin – reneging on their deal for a scheduled second LP. When recording the LP they were laying down demos of rawer, more house-orientated tracks with their prolific production prowess showing no signs of abating. Sensing an opportunity with these side-projects, Frank Mendez approached them in forming a label as an outlet for their tracks and thus, Nu Groove was born. The label proved to be perfect vehicle for their inimitable productions – through Karen they hooked up with Tommy Musto of Fourth Floor fame and on the first day in his studio they produced ‘The Booty Dance’ (as K.A.T.O on NG 002) and ‘Angel Of Mercy’ (as Metro on NG 005). Not bad for a day’s work...
They continued to release an armada of records under an array of aliases with Ron recording as Aphrodisiac, Equation and K.A.T.O. and Rheji’s guises including N.Y. House’N Authority, Metro, Tech Trax Inc. and The Utopia Project. A lot of their classic Nu Groove EPs have been repressed to death over the last year so you can easily cop ‘em in your nearest house stockist – 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 which you can hear via Gerd Janson’s killer mix dedicated to them here. If like me you’re a Nu Groove nerd you probably got all the Burrell EPs – really hard to pick a fave but whether it’s the ethereal ecstasy of Rheji’s ‘Apt. 3’ or ‘Brownstone’Express’ or Ron’s otherworldly ‘Song Of The Siren’ they all take me straight to paradise…
We’ll leave the Burrell Brothers there and have a quick round up of some other Nu Groove heads. Like Joey Beltram, Frankie “Bones” and Lennie “Dee” soundtracked many a long lost M25 orbital mixtape with their heavy drum breaks, hypnotising rhythms, otherworldly synths and sampling ingenuity on their ‘Looney Tunes’ EPs thrusting them into the UK rave scene. Frankie has resurrected his legendary early 90s event STORMrave for Red Bull’s takeover of NYC which is goin’ down tomorrow – this Thump feature is recommended reading on the part Frankie played in the emergence of rave in New York along with his Brooklyn record joint Sonic Groove. Another notable mention is ‘The Prince Of Dance Music’ L.B. Bad who with his The True Story Of House Music EP has produced one of the most hunted house hot plates on the label – the ‘The New Age Of Faith’ may sound familiar as Andrew Weatherall ripped it off for ‘Smokebelch II’ under his Sabres of Paradise pseudonym which whether you view as a compliment or controversial it further emphasised the label’s influence… Of course there was Peter Daou of The Daou fame (who’s a political advisor now mental..) whose killer keys added another dimension to a lot of Nu Groove releases and was a feature on many of Bobby Konders’ productions. Another Nu Groove necessity that needs unearthing outta anonymity is Shardé by The Vision aka Edwin Maduro which is a dedication to his daughter – proper B-side bliss…
I still ain’t covered half of it and there’s still all the Nu Groove subsidiaries! As well as Bobby Konders’ Massive B, Kenny Dope was another Nu Groove alumni with his Powerhouse EPs and branched out with his Dopewax imprint – releasing dope jams under his Total Madness alias and the Dopewax anthem ‘Jam The Mace’ as House Syndicate. Another division was Rhythmic Rage which explored more of the rave territory though I think leave that one there and instead scope out the other sister label Jazzy Records which released some choice cuts from house heroes such as Pal Joey, Norty Cotto and Ronald Burrell himself. Let’s have a listen to some of those sub-label sounds here…
OK I’m Nu Grooved out! I’m sure I’m missed a load of your faves whether it’s Groove Committee, Major Problems, Project 86or Sound Vandals but that’s what I love about the label there’s so much varying house flavour that everyone gonna have a different choice cut. After four years Frank ceased the label – co-founder Judy Russell set up Citi Records which carried on the spirit of Nu Groove with the Burrell Brothers representing and later found Kerri Chandler’s spiritual home Downtown 161 which is still goin’ strong as a label and distributor. They also set up the Nu Groove reissue label ‘Tu Chicks’ which rereleased some of the rarer Nu Groove joints – also worth checking is DJ Spun’s Tu Rong imprint (an offshoot of Rong Records) which released remixes and re-edits of some of the more coveted releases.
Anyway we’ll leave it there loads of the label’s lasting legacy for you to nerd out over… I’ll leave you with this mini-doc for a reminder on how influential the label was with excerpts from the Burrell Brothers, Bobby Konders and Joey Beltram along with co-founder Frank Mendez – f**k me Nu Groove records changing hands for £100 you serious? Check it out here.
HOUSE HUNTING HERALD
A few of the joints I copped from the Nu Groove collection I already got so instead of speculating on Discogs with these doubles I now have a House Hunting rack in my local record haunt The Little Record Shop in Hornsey, London! Got a few other Chicago classics (all original pressing standard) for sale so if you’re in the area worth checking out amongst shop owner David’s superior selection of rock, reggae, jazz, blues and hip-hop in his vinyl vaults… We just set up a Facebook page so give us a like if you want to be kept updated on the latest stock touching down… Prices very fair (we consider all offers too) and if we like you enough David will get the beers in so what you waiting for jet down for a deep dose of dusty fingers…