House Hunting #41 - Hanson & Davis

Aiden once more finds himself with dusty fingers...

House Hunting #41 - Hanson & Davis

Aiden once more finds himself with dusty fingers...

So after another epic epilogue featuring a host of house holy grails from some choice curators and serious selectors it’s back to normal proceedings this week as wax withdrawal takin’ hold – as I had a hiatus from a deep dose of dusty fingers a house hunting session was long overdue…

I got a house hunting hint off my main man and Thunder groupie Rob that there was a trainer shop on Shoreditch High Street that had a back room with some of that Chicago and NY flavour I’m always longin’ for so was added to my rack raiding radar. A month or so past since Rob’s recommendation and I hadn’t had a chance to check out this outpost however I was meetin’ up with my main man Terry Farley (picked up a very HOUSE tee for him in NY) and he suggested we hook up in Shoreditch and grab a slice at pizza joint Voodoo Rays – had to have the ‘Hot Mix 5’ standard! Anyway after regaling me with tales of house hedonism at the Sound Factory in the early 90s and reminiscing about recording the video to his house hit ‘Shout To The Top’ (under his Fire Island guise with partner in crime Pete Heller) in Chicago with the legendary Loleatta Holloway, this stirred my house hunting sensor and yeah you guessed it after saying out goodbyes it was time for another crate crusade…

I jetted first to Flashback Records but as predicted flickin’ through proved fruitless as just a load of speculator specials so thought I’d take a jaunt to my fave Hoxton wax haunt Love Vinyl for some second-hand solace. However, as walkin’ towards the station I suddenly remembered about that trainer shop Rob waxed lyrical ‘bout so I deviated to Shoreditch High Street to see if I could scope it out… As I walkin’ up the street I came across an emporium called ‘Sneakersnstuff’ which though had loads of trainer flavour with the Swedish minimalism there def ain’t gonna be any records housed in their stockroom – just felt like a middle-class Foot-Locker with all those f**kin’ fluoro Nike’s the masses are droppin’ get me outta there…  Anyway, a few doors down I clocked another trainer shop called the ‘Sneaker Box’ which judging by the exterior definitely had potential. On entering this was definitely more my flow as looked like an old-school NY sneaker joint straight outta the East Village with original rare pairs of Air Max, Shelltoes and Pumps – all the kicks I used to wash cars to save money for in my youth… As well as trainers the shop has a killer collection of 80s sweats and jackets proper throwback threads. These weren’t thrift prices though and I ain’t as cool as when I was in my childhood clobber so I ventured to the back of the shop where there was a lil’ vinyl vault waiting for me…

So in this back room there were records displayed on the wall and to my surprise they were the latest house records that the RA generation worship including Levon Vincent and Paranoid London – I would have thought with the b-boy styling of the shop it’ll be hip-hop then again ‘deep house’ SO HOT right now... However, there were 3 cases of records in the middle of the room stating ‘3 records for £10’ so this is where I sought some second-hand solace… Within the first few records I already pulled out a Jump Street sleeve and on flickin’ further I scoped a load of killer disco and boogie joints (for example the soul-drenched ‘Working Up A Sweat’ by Full Circle) and some Chicago House courtesy of Da Posse’s ‘Is Large’ LP on Republic Records.. One of the counter lads popped his head around and to my surprise said it was Craig Richards’ record collection so knew these boxes definitely had house hunting potential… I delved a lil’ deeper and as I was comin’ to the end of the last box I clocked a distinctive record sleeve with the word ‘FRESH’ emblazoned on the front of it so knew this was a 12” on the legendary NY imprint. The record was definitely fresh as still had its shrink intact complete with original promo sticker but was it gonna be house or hip-hop? On inspecting further this wasn’t one of the many hip-hop releases that were prevalent on the label but to my joy the Hanson & Davis ‘Can’t Stop’ 12” which is that NY house flavour I can’t get enough of… I just took that record to the counter and was charged only a few quid for it so a nice lil’ bargain – for once Tonya wouldn’t be fearing how much I rinsed on a mint original house holy grail!

So let’s get to the record… Hanson & Davis were NY session singers and a duo comprising of Aaron Hanson and Edward J. Davis. Their first record was ‘Tonight (Love Will Make It Right)’ which Timmy Regisford edited – the proto-house flavour reminiscent of all the killer 80s productions he released with fellow kindred spirit Boyd Jarvis such as the Prelude classic ‘The Music Got Me’ as Visual and ‘Release The Tension’ under their Circuit guise. Anyway, this Hanson & Davis production with its post-disco, garage styling that was prevalent at club sanctuaries like The Paradise Garage was a major record. Though the vocal version more chart-friendly it’s all about the fierce dub with THAT breakdown – a b-side bomb that’ll devastate dancefloors… I copped a mint copy of the 12” at Greenpoint joint Co-Op 87 Records & Tapes on my NYC crate crusade a couple of months back for just a few dollars – a proper bargain bin belter have a listen to both versions here along with the dub being dropped live in Manchester’s Moss Side back in ’86…

The record was the debut release of newly-incepted label Fresh records and was a subsidiary of Arthur Russell’s influential institution Sleeping Bag Records with co-founder William Socolov launching Fresh. The label’s next release was on a hip-hop tip with T La Rock’s ‘He’s Incredible’ EP. The ‘Breakdown’ track got a lot of airplay on the NY airwaves and this shifted the label’s attention towards the burgeoning hip-hop scene of the city with artists such as Just Ice and EPMD aka Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith becoming mainstays of the label. However, with the visionary Kurtis Mantronik at the helm of A&R there were some deviations with some house flow coming courtesy of house hero Todd Terry as The Todd Terry Project. The Brooklyn beatsmith’s brand of sample-heavy house on Fresh were ubiquitous club hits whether the Arthur Russell collaboration ‘Bango (To The Batmobile)’ (which incidentally samples ‘Go Bang’ by Dinosaur L), ‘Just Wanna Dance’, ‘Weekend’ and ‘The Circus’ – not to mention his ‘To The Batmobile Let’s Go’ LP. Also appearing on the label is Eddie “Love” Arroyo and John “Boy” Maldonado of Citi Records fame (Judy Russell’s Nu Groove reincarnation) who under their El Barrio alias dropped the hot salsa jam ‘Across 110th Street’ that was an underground hit. Check it out here along with all the Todd Terry tracks – get your anorak on and see if you can trainspot all the samples…

Bringin’ it back to Hanson & Davis and their next 12” features Fresh A&R Mantronik who on ‘Hungry For Your Love’ turns in one of his signature electro workouts that’ll get the b-boy’s breakin’ – complete with the duo’s longing lyrics adding a bit of boogie and soul to the mix. However, the choice cut on the EP is ‘I’ll Take You On’ that features none-other than Paradise Garage prophet Larry Levan on the mix. Leave the club version and head straight to the killer dub that’s reminiscent of some Boyd Jarvis dub styling that is pure house hunting flavour. A year later in ’87 they released ‘Come Together’ in which Timmy Regisford is back on board and delivers a driving dub that’s the highlight of the EP – I do love vocal house joints but man all the Hanson & Davis dubs are on another level proper mind-trips… The same year they released their ‘Can’t Stop’ LP on Fresh which predominantly consists of their previous releases on Fresh with a few additional tracks that ain’t too much to shout about – my advice get all the EP’s so you got all the mixes including that dub pressure…

Their next record on Fresh was ultimately their last release before they disbanded. Enlisting another production powerhouse this time in the form of hip-hop and house marvel Marley Marl, he turns in some more of that freestylin’ proto-house styling that is synonymous with all Hanson & Davis records. Yet again the dub wins out however the version on this 12” a vocal dub with more emphasis on the vocal in contrast to the previous EP’s so a happy medium that showcases all the duo’s strengths. Though this was their last record they have left a short but lasting legacy which you can check out on the recently released Fresh Records anthology which forms part of the Sources series that harks back to the defining labels of 80s/early 90s New York including Easy Street, P&P, Sam, Sleeping Bag and Streetwise – all curated by DJ History’s music polymath Bill Brewster so you know a serious selection! Anyway, I’ll leave you with this week’s house hunting choice find that takes you back straight to 80’s NYC…

AIDEN d’ARAUJO

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