House Hunting #48 – Movin’ Records

Aiden's back to his daily dose of black crack...

House Hunting #48 – Movin’ Records

Aiden's back to his daily dose of black crack...

So work had taken over last week to the degree I didn’t even get a chance to check out a record shop (I know I’m slacking) but House Hunting is back outta hiatus as wax withdrawal was kickin’ in and there's only so long I can go without my daily dose of black crack... On my day off I was busy with my hometown graf hero Boyd sprayin’ up a House Hunting mural down in Brixton so you knew I was gonna play diggin’ deviant... I checked out the local haunts including Roots stronghold Music Temple and got some authentic Brixton flavour in the Reliance Arcade where the latest addition to the Brixton wax web is Pure Vinyl. Both worth checkin’ out as proper record shops in the old-school sense but my rack raiding radar didn’t detect any house on this crate crusade so mission incomplete...

As well as jetting south of the river, I was in Islington the other day where me and the Mrs went for some dinner – you knew I had a hidden house agenda as Flashback Records in the area so as ever puttin’ on a positive spin “Why don’t you check out Planet Organic next door while I’ll quickly check out some records?”. This seemed to work so I descended to the Flashback basement for a quick flick to see if I could unearth any house hotplates. Just as I was gettin’ down to diggin’, Tonya showed up (“that was quick!”) so time for a swift session. No surprises on this occasion - though I did clock Mondee Oliver’s ‘Newsy Neighbours’ for a fiver which I would have copped had it not been for a big stamp and pen marks ruining that Gherkin flavour – you know that House Hunting clean label policy! I also scoped that Sha-Lor 12” for £35 (you what?!) which they’ve transferred from their Shoreditch branch to try their luck with the Islington jet-set – I picked this up for eight quid in Crazy Beat recently so it ain’t a speculator special, they’re just tryin’ it on - don’t f**kin’ pay that!

So I left empty-handed from there too. Things were looking a bit bleak, especially as I was working all over the weekend so no house hunting or bank holiday boogie for me... Instead I sought solace in my eBay app to see if I could scope out a bargain, but even flickin’ through all my usual saved search engines and dependable dealers proved fruitless... I remembered I had a Gumtree app – Jesus we really are entering last chance saloon now... It’s not something I get my groove on with often so thought I’d check it out as I'd exhausted my other options. On initially perusing, things weren’t looking good as every listing just looked like a record collection from Ransom Note’s very own hard house saviour and dance messiah Tonka so I was gettin’ a serious dose diggin’ déjà vu – forget Tidy Trax and Nukleuz, I want TRAX AND NU GROOVE! Anyway, just as I was losing the will to live I clocked a listing that stated ‘Over 350 US press house records mostly 89-93 – Garage, Deep, Hip Acid etc’ so, as a faint glimmer of hope, I checked it out. In the photos I detected labels like Nu Groove, Movin’, Supertronics so definitely house hunting potential... The price was £350 – not bad at a quid a record but usually with these bulk collection sales it’ll be littered with bargain bin fodder with no doubt a s**t load of Strictly Rhythm. I probed further and the seller gave me a more detailed list which included House Hunting faves such as legendary NY stables Easy Street, Fourth Floor and Underworld with most in shrink and in NM condition. This sealed the deal for me so wanted to snap ‘em up quick – I offered £200 straight up no messing, thinking he’d wanna negotiate, but he just wanted to get rid of them to free up some space so I just sent him the £££’s via Paypal and got straight on sorting the courier out straight away - nice one!

We arranged for them to be delivered on my day off as I didn’t want to miss these... So, as I was house-bound waiting for the records, I was on domestic duties as I thought this would appease Tonya when she walked in to a max stax of wax takin’ over the lounge. After what felt like an eternity, my vinyl void was finally filled when UPS delivered ‘em in the afternoon. So, time to give my feminine physique a workout – a top floor apartment ain’t the one when hauling a load of back-breakers. Anyway, as soon as I got ‘em all in the flat I wasted no time in tearin’ those boxes open – my heart skipped a 4/4 beat when, upon opening the first box, my eyes met a Sleeping Bag sleeve and it was love at first sight... After ripping ‘em all open I didn’t know where to start. On havin’ a quick flick through there’s some Nu Groove necessities, some Smokin’ joints, some NY freestyle flow on Sleeping Bag and Supertronics, some obscure allure as I clocked a couple of Ben Cenac releases and... a s**t load of Strictly Rhythm (ha!) though house hunting points as a load of test pressings with original promo sheets – anoraks anonymous! Have a listen to some of my fave finds so far here...

However, there’s one label outta New Jersey where there’s a few in this house haul so, though the five boroughs dominates this collection, we’re gonna head a few miles west to East County to check out influential institution Movin’ Records – a nice change of scenery as I’m always waxing lyrical about NYC and the Chi... I also feel compelled to feature Movin’ as I read a great piece published on Mixmag earlier this week by The Black Madonna entitled ’20 Women Who Shaped The History Of Dance Music’ which celebrates the influential role women have in dance music culture. So it only feels right to talk about Movin’ this week as it was founded by legendary New Jersey A&R queen Abigail Adams.

Let’s delve a bit deeper in the influential role Abigail and Movin’ had on the New Jersey scene... Prior to setting up the label, Abi was a model and keen skater who used to skate at The Roxy in Manhattan. As there was nowhere to buy a pair of skates in her home environ, Abi sensed an opportunity so opened the Movin’ Skates store which specialised in building custom skates and skate rentals – f**k talkin’ about this has got me reminiscing about those times in my youth I used to skate in my Bauer quads at the roller rink in Leicester’s Granby Halls (RIP), miss those days... Anyway, with the store hittin’ it off from the get-go, Abi’s skate sanctuary was a base for the urban kids of the local neighbourhood (Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah used to frequent there in their youth) and with the burgeoning skate scene Abi opened another store in her spiritual home of The Roxy. However, come ’83 and with interest in skating starting to wane, the owners of The Roxy focused on putting on nights and she looked after a breakdance posse. This is where she met Danny Krivit who was the resident DJ and schooled her on music.

As well as hookin’ up with Danny she met Larry Levan through her friend who was the manager of The Roxy and dating renowned record producer and engineer Ron St. Germain – who at the time was helping Larry mix his renditions of Jeffrey Osborne’s ‘Plane Love’. Larry became a friend and, though Abi was a Paradise Garage regular, Larry gave her a gold card which would guarantee her entry. So through experiencing NYC nightlife via The Garage and frequenting her home haven Zanzibar, naturally Abi got more clued up in the underground sound spun in these club sanctuaries – listening to Tony Humphries on Kiss FM and Timmy Regisford on WBLS also proving influential. As her boyfriend at the time had a pair of 1200’s in the back of her skate shop, she would frequent choice vinyl joints in New York like Downstairs, Downtown and Vinylmania so she could play the nightlife sounds of NYC in her shop. When they’d put the records on in the shop everybody was asking what they were so tapping into her entrepreneurial spirit she’d go see Frankie Ramos at Downtown and Charlie Grappone at Vinylmania, cop a load of records and sell to her regulars in the skate shop for a quarter or 50 cents more. This took off to the point that Movin’ started to evolve from a skate shop to a record store with Abigail buying direct through her connections with Danny Krivit and Larry Levan plus all the major players in the record pool like Judy Weinstein and David Morales of Def Mix fame.

In ’85 she was approached to become a Billboard reporting store and chart records by the majors which led to a load of exclusive in-stores with the likes of Sylvester and The System making guest appearances when in town – ultimately giving Movin’ further exposure. The store became a hub for all the Zanz rezzies like Tony Humphries, Larry Patterson and Tee Scott to hang and get their wax fix. The Hump in particular played a significant role in the store’s ascendency as when he was droppin’ promos and breakin’ new tracks on his Kiss show or in Zanzibar, customers would come in to Movin’ with their recorded cassettes or singing what they heard. As with Larry Levan, the Paradise Garage and Vinylmania, a similar relationship had organically formed between Tony, Zanzibar and Movin’ Records putting New Jersey on the house map. Check out this ace lil’ doc...

It was a natural progression that Abi would release a record and in ’87 she launched her label Movin’ Records. The first 12” was inspired by checkin’ out her idol Timmy Regisford spinnin’ at a club called Kamikaze behind The Roxy and seeing production powerhouse Boyd Jarvis (of Visual fame) playing live with him droppin’ overdubs and live synths over the records being played. After introducing herself they became friends and with Boyd havin’ a prolific production output they agreed on releasing a track on Abi’s newly incepted imprint. The finished result was ‘I’ve Got The Music’ which with the warm bass, killer keys and synth flourishes is a typical Boyd Jarvis joint that sounds like an unofficial sequel to his earlier hit Prelude production ‘The Music Got Me’ under his Visual guise. Coming complete with Tony Humphries and Blaze mixes, little did they know this Jersey jam would kick-start a whole sound synonymous with New Jersey…

Abi was only gonna release the one record but with all the talent coming through in the city, plus The Hump bein’ able to break the records via Kiss and Zanzibar, it was only natural to release more records. Next up was the Smack-produced ‘Don’t Turn Your Love’ by Park Ave. with Better Days alumni and Zanzibar resident Tee Scott (Rest In Paradise...) turnin’ in a couple of remixes (all about ‘Tee’s “O” Mix) with a couple of Blaze mixes on the flip. The following year Movin’ released one of its biggest hits with ‘Reachin’ by Phase II aka Blaze – comprising of Kevin Hedge, Josh Milan and Chris Herbert. Kevin spent all his spare time in the Movin’ shop soakin’ up everything he could whilst also religiously attending the Paradise Garage every weekend to study the evangelical Larry Levan. Meanwhile, Josh was torn between pursuing secular and non-secular music as he played organ at the Church where Chris also attended and naturally he had loyalties to the Church with his religious upbringing. He opted for the former, founded Blaze with Kevin and Chris and the rest is history… They had already released records on Ace Mungin’s Ace Beat Records which lay down the foundations of the Jersey Sound and were mainstays on Curtis Urbina’s Quark imprint. However, it was the Jersey anthem ‘Reachin’ that would transcend the usual house fare with Dave Lee aka Joey Negro licensing it for his Republic stable in the UK and even getting Burrell brother Rheji to lay down a remix. The next 12” is my choice Movin’ find in this collection I copped – ‘Not Gonna Do It’ by Vicky Martin. For this release Abi called on the Chicago House hierarchy with Marshall Jefferson producing in his inimitable style with this one reminiscent of the deeper, more ethereal style he was forming (in essence he was the forefather of ‘Deep House’) that you could hear on the LP’s he was producing for Ten City, Kym Mazelle and Cabaret Voltaire – not forgetting of course his mystical masterclass ‘Open Our Eyes’ on Big Beat. The track retains the spirit and flavour of New Jersey with a twist of Chicago coming in the form of remixes courtesy of Bam Bam and Mike Dunn. Check out all these early Movin’ joints here…

A few releases later and Vicky Martin returned with the Chris Paul produced ‘Nowhere To Run’ complete with a video – you know how addicted I am to '80s house vids! Another fave is ‘My My Lover’ by Dee Dee Brave which is one of Kerri Chandler’s early joints (another local who lived just down the street on Central Avenue) and this punchy production was the precursor to his signature style which is often imitated but never duplicated… I applaud Parisian stable My Love Is Underground for exposing to the new generation some of the forgotten house heroes such as Nathaniel X and Jerzzey Boy but Jesus the label’s NJ aesthetic spawned a whole host of copycats that diluted the spirit of the Jersey Sound with a load of Kerri rip-offs – thank f**k that’s passed… Anyway, as well as Vicky and Dee Dee, Movin’ put the women with the gospel roots at the forefront with further releases from LaChandra, Valerie Ingram, Libby Jones and Jasmine. At the turn of the decade Boyd Jarvis returned with another EP and more local legends such as Immaje (aka Jerzzey Boy) and Cassio Ware contributed with a couple of EP’s – not to mention Acid auteur DJ Pierre releasing ‘I Might Be Leavin’ U’ with his muse LaVette which sounds like a very early prototype to his Wild Pitch formula. Here’s some of those choice Movin’ releases…

As well as the label, Zanzibar was the perfect vehicle for the ‘Jersey Sound’ and to push it further in ’89 Abi, Tony and Zanzibar owner Shelton Hayes joined forces and focused on exposing the raw talent and sounds comin’ outta New Jersey. They curated a series of parties in NYC including the Jersey Jams event at the New York Seminar which was a massive success. Also, with all the interest in the UK via Pete Tong and Dave Lee wanting to licence some of the records this put Movin’ on the transatlantic house map – Abi took Phase II, Vicky Martin and LaChandra to play in London at the Brixton Academy. Man, how amazing would that have been! The Hump’s mythical Kiss mastermixes already had put him in house folklore and after guest appearances at Shoom and High On Hope he secured his renowned residency at the Ministry Of Sound and got us hooked on the Jersey Sound…

I don’t think Movin’, both in terms of the label and shop, has got the accolades it has deserved - especially as it spawned a whole new genre and sound so props to Abi with her vision and influence. The sound of New Jersey could have been very different... Her daughter was born in ’92 and though she tried to juggle the shop, label and her newborn, naturally family commitments took over and the shop shut down soon after with the label also winding down. However, it’s left more than a lasting legacy – don’t talk to me about the Jersey Sound if you ain’t got a Movin’ joint in your collection as this is the real deal! Right I’ll leave you with another '80s house vid – give it up for the New Jersey house heroines…

Aiden d’Araujo

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