House Hunting #51 – Soho

Aiden ventures into Hackney... "So who’s behind the Soho record? Well, it’s cult NY house pioneer Pal Joey aka Joseph Longo who I still think is one of the unsung heroes of house. "

House Hunting #51 – Soho

Aiden ventures into Hackney... "So who’s behind the Soho record? Well, it’s cult NY house pioneer Pal Joey aka Joseph Longo who I still think is one of the unsung heroes of house. "

So after the house overflow with the ‘House Hunting Hot Week’ a few weeks back it’s back to normal proceedings with another deep dose of diggin’ tales... Typically just as I’ve got loads to wax lyrical about the laptop decides to die so my fingers been itchin’ to lay down some of my choice crate crusades of late. I think this week I’ll share my Hackney house haul that I scored last month in the house hideaways of Hackney...

I clocked that the Hackney Record Fair was returning to Dalston – if you ain’t been before it’s well worth checking out for some Sunday rack raiding recreation... However, prior to checking that out I first took a jaunt up the Hackney Road to check out the latest addition to the Hackney vinyl empire – Cosmos Records. This is a sister-branch of their celebrated Canadian outpost in Toronto and houses a serious selection of carefully curated collections whether it’s soul, jazz, funk, disco, rare groove, rock or hip-hop. In terms of house only a small selection though when havin’ a quick flick I clocked a KMS sleeve and on inspecting the label was surprised to see it was Chez Damier’s tribute to Ron Hardy with ‘Badd Minded’ under his Ontoni guise (all about the ‘Still At The Box’ mix proper floor punisher) – check out my love letter to Chez and KMS from the house hunting archives. Anyway, I copped this (think it was a tenner so on the higher end of the spectrum but y’know original pressing, sleeve and all...) and the guy behind the counter said more house would be touchin’ down soon. He casually pulled out a near mint original of Jesse Saunders’ slice of house history ‘On And On’ from behind the till but wouldn’t sell it – man why tease? Anyway, though some of the prices in speculator special territory this vinyl boutique definitely one I’ll add to my house radar...


So after my voyage deep in the Cosmos I jetted to Dalston to my planned platter perusing at the Hackney Record Fair. However, en route I deviated around the corner to check out another of Hackney’s vinyl emporia – Eldica Records. I hadn’t been to this bijou Aladdin’s cave for time but was due a visit to see what wealth of wax jewels I could unearth in this treasure trove... Eldica is run by Andy Westbury and is one of London’s more under the radar record joints but the more discernible diggers seek it out for some second-hand solace with a choice collection of soul, jazz, funk, disco, hip-hop, dub and reggae – complete with some vintage hi-fi and retro homeware! I immediately went for the new arrival racks and unbelievably after I just done my Sleeping Bag Records special there were a load of Sleeping Bag and Fresh joints in the rack (coincimental!) – all US original pressings in shrink with hype stickers on house hunting quota met I need help... So I picked up a Todd Terry triptych on Fresh including  the ‘Just Wanna Dance’,and ‘Bango (To The Batmobile)’ EPs plus his ‘To The Batmobile Let’s Go’ LP, and the Indian Ocean odyssey ‘Schoolbell/Treehouse’ by Sleeping Bag co-founder and disco deity Arthur Russell. Littered in the racks was a load of NYC necessities on legendary labels like Jump Street, Pow Wow, Prelude, Salsoul and Smokin’ but I needed to save some £££’s for the record fair... Considering all mint condition £35 for the lot a decent deal – as paid in cash the kind lady knocked me off a few quid as well that’s how you get the regulars through the door I’ll be back for sure...



So now time for my final destination... For those who ain’t been the Hackney Record Fair it’s housed on Stoke Newington Road just a few minutes’ walk up from Dalston Junction/Dalston Kingsland Overground stations and is a bi-monthly affair held in the multipurpose EPIC events hall that also holds regular parties, live events and art & flea markets. As well as vinyl vendors also representing are independent record labels, vintage hi-fi dealers, and stalls selling collectable cassettes, sought-after books and fanzines – not to mention some rack raid relief in the form of a beer bar and café couture you don’t wanna get too delirious diggin’ deep... Though on the previous occasion I checked out the fair there wasn’t a whole lotta house, this time when doing a lap I scoped that there was far less kraut-rock and psyche and more disco, boogie and house so sensing house hunting potential was time to get down to it... Jerome Hill of Super Rhythm Trax had a stall again with some choice house, hip-hop and electro in the racks. I scoped some Nu Groove and choice Chicago cuts including the ‘Falling’ EP by 3 2 6 on the late Armando’s Muzique Records which you don’t see every day. However, on clockin’ a few Trax joints complete in their original sleeves I had to cop one and as opposed to the obvious ones he had some obscure allure in the form of ‘Take Me’ by Kamia – happy to pay a fiver as has been on my wax wantlist for a while love that pure power vox...


Andy from Eldica was also representing – he had Tee Scott’s Movin’ joint ‘Don’t Turn Your Love’ but the label covered with writing (I know get a life...) and house hero Sweet D’s Full House anthem ‘I Remember’. Other than that though nothing on my house radar and I’d already spent a fair few £££’s in his shop so moved on to the back of the fair where I had to do a double-take as I clocked my main man Chris Energy was there armed with his arsenal of vinyl – you can read more about Chris’ crates in the Kool Rock Steady edition of House Hunting. There were that many crates he had all his house stacks on the chairs so after chattin’ (house what else?) I got down on my knees and methodically went through each one. As usual, his crates overflowin’ with some Trax, DJ International, Nu Groove, Strictly Rhythm... However I saw a mint Apexton sleeve (shrink intact!) indicating it was an Underworld release and though I thought it’d be another volume of Frankie Bones’ ‘Bonesbreaks’ EP’s (he’s got loads of them) upon closer inspection it was actually ‘The Movement’ by Movement aka Tommy Musto of Northcott Productions and Fallout fame! Knowing Chris he can ask for proper dizzy prices – he proposed £15 and I countered a tenner which he agreed on so happy with that for this dope NY house joint...


On diggin’ further, keeping with the Underworld theme I pulled out a sealed record on the label’s subsidiary United Sounds Of America. I thought if I was lucky it maybe the L.B. Bad 12” or the Dreamhouse EP but nothing prepared me for the house factor goin’ to 11 when it was the super sought-after Soho joint! As was sealed it wouldn’t have surprised me if Chris had quoted fifty-quid but he asked for £20 which I thought not bad but always after the house haggle got him down to £15 so a proper Hackney house haul. Not bad for a day’s work...

So who’s behind the Soho record? Well, it’s cult NY house pioneer Pal Joey aka Joseph Longo who I still think is one of the unsung heroes of house. Hailing from Queens, Joey grew up on disco and the emerging hip-hop scene – immersing himself in the B-boy culture of the 80s era. His first foray into production was in the form of making pause-button tapes with these primitive edits used for some boombox battlin’, and he also started DJing whilst studying as the State University Of New York. After graduating, he got hold of a four track reel-to-reel tape recorder and drum machine so he could start experimenting in the realm of production. However, he had a chance encounter where he saw someone construct a medley of various tracks with a razor blade and tape which was a more advanced form of his cassette craft with the pause tapes – ultimately influencing his b-boy styling and sample heavy take on house. He enhanced his studio skills by interning at Power Play Studios which was home to hip-hop heroes Run DMC and EPMD. Initially helping out with odd-jobs like repairing equipment such as headphones and tape machines, it wasn’t long before he was promoted from being the maintenance man to the second engineer – meaning he’d be in the studio everyday further honing his craft.

To supplement his income, when not spending any spare hour at Power Play in Queens you could find Joey behind the counter at Charlie Grappone’s legendary West Village wax institution Vinylmania – check out this video in-store back in ’92...


He was at the controls during the mid-to-late eighties, when New York was a hotbed of fresh, emerging genres whether it was post-disco, italo, electro, boogie, hip-hop or house. With club sanctuary the Paradise Garage only a few blocks away, Vinylmania was where the Garage disciples would source there dose of black crack after Larry Levan served ‘em up the night before – who would also get his weekly wax fix from Joey. Working here naturally schooled Joey and his influence as being a prime purveyor at Vinylmania would get the artists and producers in the Power Play Studio seeking his advice whether their joints hot enough to sell in the shop. He also at the time had a residency in choice NYC joint Nell’s which was a hark back to the supper clubs of the bygone era and counted serious selectors such as Basil Hardhaus among its alumni.


Having worked in Vinylmania for a few years and his production prowess in the studio sharpening, after doing edits of ‘I Shot The Sheriff Deputy Of Love’ by The Castle Beat (aka Larry Joseph), Joey released his first records in ’89. This included his remix of ‘Love Is The Message’ by MFSB over on the flip of the Big Apple Production Vol. IV EP on J&T Records which was a proto Pal Joey joint with the b-boy drums complete with a rough’n’raw aesthetic but with that soul’n’swing that would be synonymous with his later releases. He recorded this under his Pal Joey alias in which he’s best known for – a nod to his Italian-American roots with his Dad being a Sinatra fan and taking cue from the Broadway play which starred Sinatra as the star character on the big screen. Back to the records and in the same year he released the ‘Underground Classic’ EP on Reynald “Crazy Frenchman” Deschamps’ Kool Groove Records – which would prove to be the defining record that would perfectly showcase his splice’n’dice production flow. On the A-side under his Soho guise is ‘Hot Music (Jazz Mix)’ which features on this week’s house hunting find and as the title hints is a jam-hot joint. Kickin’ off with a three-key piano chord (which for the trainspotters samples Wynton Marsalis’ ‘Skain’s Domain’) along with heavy b-boy drums and jazzy percussion, intermittent chants of “Hot”, “Music” and “Jump” come into play complete with a clarinet solo that will get those jazz shoes burnin’ hot. Over on the B-Side is another one of his armada of aliases this time being Earth People with the legendary disco joint ‘Dance’ which again showcases his sampling ingenuity as he samples Carl Bean’s ‘I Was Born This Way’ and Chic’s ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ into an infectious disco loop that many imitate but never duplicate – we could be here all day schooling on the samples proper anoraks anonymous... Anyway, both these Pal Joey jams are timeless tracks that perfectly capture the spirit of NYC in the vein of a classic Todd Terry or MAW production – the perfect introduction to his dizzying discography. The Kool Groove pressing you don’t see everyday but ‘Hot Music’ was later released on Reynald Deschamps’ United Sounds Of America stable plus was licensed to Outer Rhythm outta the UK whilst ‘Dance’ was licensed to Apexton arm Underworld plus Champion which commissioned Kerri Chandler to supply a remix in which he stretches the original’s criminally short 4-minute length into a 10-minute house homage. Have a listen here for some sample spotting and disco detecting...




The success of this 12” catapulted Joey and he began to flourish with his productions. At the turn of the decade in ’90 he released a succession of killer records whether it was retreading his same successful formula with ‘Reach Up To Mars’ as Earth People or taking a deeper direction with the dripping Dream Mix of Dreamhouse’s ‘Jump & Prance’ and the Peech Boys sampling ‘Tonight I’m Going To Love You’ – both of which were precursors to the deep house he helped form none of those current house fallacies that mask themselves as ‘deep house’ (if there was ever an overused term) proper diluted s**t... His deeper excursions would form the template of his legendary label Loop D’Loop which housed his more house flow and splicin’ sample styling – easily identifiable by the b-boy blowin’ bubblegum logo and the hashtag-numbered titles. Have you seen the Pal Joey Loop D’Loop tees? They’re ace and produced by airbag craftworks so you know decent quality – proper club couture check ‘em out here and nearer to home think Kristina and Phonica have in stock. As well as Loop D’Loop Joey also launched Cabaret Records (love the throwback artwork!) which houses the Beautiful People 12” where he hooked up with the Tokyo kats like Manabu Nagayama who also features on the La Ronde EP on King Street’s Japanese subsidiary BPM complete with Pal Joey’s ‘Harmony’. Let’s get all into these here...







Let’s not forget all the revered remixes he turned out during his house heyday. These include his delicious dub of Deee-Lite’s ‘How Do You Say... Love’, his lucid trippin’ ‘Cumulonimbus Mix’ of the Orb’s ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ and his downtempo interpretation of Sade’s ‘Cherish The Day’ – all showcasing his full repertoire in the studio.  As well as his own productions and remixes, Joey also went back to his roots and was called upon by the hip-hop hierarchy such as KRS-One’s Boogie Down Productions who he was a production mainstay with producing various joints off their last LP ‘Sex And Violence’ including ‘Duck Down’ and co-producing ‘Love’s Gonna Get’cha’ – he even gets a cameo in the video for this as Rob the shady neighbourhood drug dealer! Check ‘em all out here...






If trackin’ down all his records too much hard work then you can cop his ‘Somewhere In New York’ LP which features all choice cuts or BBE’s tribute to him via their ‘Hot Music’ comp which you buy directly from the label here – both these anthologies the perfect introduction to his inimitable house flow. Leaving a lasting legacy, Pal Joey is one of the true house heroes with his timeless compositions still sounding fresh as ever – be sure you make time to check out his website with his full discography complete with some amazing images of his old flyers! I’ll leave you with his recent reinterpretation of the Chicago House anthem ‘It’s You’ by E.S.P. aka House Hunting main man Tommy Thumbs which is pure Pal Joey flavour– CHI x NYC!
AIDEN d’ARAUJO

heart

Enjoy this article? Want more?

You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.

Become a friend of Ransom Note

COMMENTS